At Least 12 Die In Shooting At Magazine's Paris Office; Suspects Named
Maureen Cavanaugh: Our top story on Midday Edition, the French nation as well as journalism outlets across Europe are on high alert after today’s deadly attack on the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. KPBS will keep you up-to-date through the day on the search for the three gunmen wanted in the Paris attack. Right now though, we want to focus on what these and other attacks maybe doing to our freedom of expression. Today’s massacre in Paris which killed ten journalists and two policemen was not the first attack against cartoonists, reporters or editors because of what they write. And those attacks have not all come from one group or ideology. Joining me is Dean Nelson, he is director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University. And Dean welcome to the program. Dean Nelson: I’m happy to be here, Maureen. Thank you. Maureen Cavanaugh: David Rolland is editor of San Diego CityBeat. Dave, hi. David Rolland: Hi Maureen. Maureen Cavanaugh: And Batton Lash is a San Diego based cartoonist, published on the website BigHollywood.com. Batton, thanks for coming in. Batton Lash: Thanks, Maureen. Maureen Cavanaugh: Now Dean, from the reporting surrounding this attack there seems little doubt that the gunmen targeted these victims because they worked for the satirical newspaper. Is this the worst attack on journalists because of their work that you’ve heard of? Dean Nelson: It may be the worst in one singular moment that I’m aware of in recent history but journalists get targeted by many different groups for many different reasons and there’s clearly been accumulative killing of journalists more so in the last few years than you would think. Maureen Cavanaugh: Now journalists, cartoonists have been targets of threats and many of them have been threatened for their writings or their drawings of the Prophet Mohammed. So even though we are shocked should we be surprised by this attack? Dean Nelson: All right, I think anytime someone kills someone for expressing an idea or even being satirical about a religion, yeah I think you should be shocked. Maybe not surprised on the one hand but this is a shocking thing and it’s a terrible thing. Maureen Cavanaugh: Dave, I’m wondering do these journalists especially in countries that have had repeated threats from extremists, should they know that what they are engaged in is risky business? David Rolland: Yes, I think a few years ago we had the Danish publication that published provocative cartoons on Islam extremists. So I think yeah, if you’re paying attention you need to be concerned about what you publish. I mean here in this country it hasn’t been, looking for wood to knock on here, hasn’t been that much of a danger. This morning when I heard about it, it kind of makes you turn white a little bit and sort of snaps you back into a certain reality that you don’t, that we here I don’t confront. I’m lucky that I don’t have to make the commitment to die for journalistic freedom. So it’s scary and yeah people should be on alert. Maureen Cavanaugh: And yet Batton there is a cartoonist from the Seattle area who actually is in, I believe she changed her identity. Batton Lash: Her is Molly, her name was Molly Norris and she was under the foolish assumption that we had free speech here and after the South Park episode where they poked fun at Mohammed and Comedy Central censored any image of Mohammed she was a little outraged and said, hey let’s do Draw Mohammed Day. And there was a jihad put on her and the FBI told her this is serious, you got to go into hiding. This is very little reported, as far as I know she is still in hiding. I’m a little shocked and ashamed with the American press that they have not followed up on this as much as they should because as we’ve seen what happened today in France the pen is mightier than the sword and we should all double down and say we’re not going to put up with this and let consequences be damned. Maureen Cavanaugh: Now Dave, in this business we all have editorial staff meetings. And this came apparently was targeted at an editorial staff meeting that this magazine had at a precise time during the week, when you hear about that it’s really chilling, isn’t it? David Rolland: Well sure, and Batton talks about we should double down and not take this and fight back and that gets a little bit dicey when you’re talking, it depends on who you are as a journalist and what your publication is, what the intention of the publication is. A lot of people don’t go into the business to become a martyr and especially people who worked for on the advertising side or in the production department, I mean you could possibly be putting more than yourself and more than your editorial team if you discussed it and talk about that, you could be putting everybody at risk. Maureen Cavanaugh: And Dean, just for clarification and context, I think that it’s important to point out that French satirical magazines have a tendency to be a bit more daring than most US publications. Isn’t there a tradition in France of really biting satirical writing? Dean Nelson: I think there is a tradition all throughout Europe that is much more biting and what we would consider to be really sensitive issues than there is in the US. The Danes for instance, or the Dutch, Scandinavians in general, the French yeah they can be vicious, but I mean that’s been part of their communication history. I mean we do it to a certain degree in this country. We celebrate Monty Python and the Life of Brian for instance and there were some religious depictions in a lot of their work that, I mean some Christians were offended, I’m a Christian but I wasn’t offended, I thought they were hilarious. But the French take it up a notch clearly and have a rich history of that that goes back to the 1700s. Maureen Cavanaugh: So you have that that tradition in France and in much of Europe of this really biting satire and on the other hand there seems to be this lack of tolerance for this growing intolerance of it. We’re talking about Muslim extremists but also I just want to put in that we just have this issue from North Korea where North Korea threatened to a terrorist attack apparently because of a movie making fun of their leader. Dean Nelson: Right. I’m not sure there are more people who are intolerant, I think there’s been hundreds of years obscuring of sacred images and sacred cows and now though there seem, I’m not sure there are more people who are intolerant I wonder if the means by which they show their intolerance have just gotten more vicious. Maureen Cavanaugh: Dave, what do you think about that? David Rolland: About what in particular? Maureen Cavanaugh: About the idea of, do you think that there’s a sort of squeeze happening, that the level of satire is being ratcheted up and the amount of intolerance is increasing? David Rolland: It’s hard for me to say, I mean I’m not a historian when it comes to these things. I only have sort of a brief window of watching, it does seem people, the tension to me seems to be ratcheting up all the time but I can’t say if that’s just my prism that I’m looking through or what? Maureen Cavanaugh: Now, Batton you are a cartoonist. David Rolland: Yes. Maureen Cavanaugh: Cartoonists have been singled out by threats. Does that make you think twice about what you draw? Batton Lash: I’ll tell you the truth. As Dean mentioned that about the French having a higher level of satire and could be very biting and here we could be biting too but maybe with a little TLC involved. But at the same time the French they’re bombed and over here we’re just shunned. I mean I find the current climate of micro aggression a form of censorship where you don’t even know if you’re insulting someone. So I have to admit in the back of my head when I do my strips, even my non-political stuff I think, oh am I insulting someone indivertibly but then I have to say, slap myself and say forget it, come on, a cartoonist’s job as far as I was concerned growing up with MAD magazine and Monty Python and all that good stuff is nothing sacred. Now we’re finding out well something is sacred and I don’t buy it. Maureen Cavanaugh: Have you ever been threatened or gotten really hostile reaction to one of your cartoons? Batton Lash: I’ve gotten hostile reaction, my collaborator was actually threatened. I used to do cartoons for Breitbart, BigHollywood.com and BigGovernment.com and we would just do these things about the Obama Administration and his cabinet and they were fluffed but we did one and I distinctly remember my collaborator James Hudnall who wrote the cartoons sent me one and apologized and said I know this joke is kind of lame but we’ll do better next week. Well, that was the one that hit the fan and my wife and I were both in the isle of storm for two days, we got threatening phone calls, I shouldn’t say threatening just hate phone calls and hate mails, Hudnall was actually threatened with his life. And I was called a racist and I was called all these ugly things and it was just a silly cartoon about what I saw as a double standard that the Obama, that wasn’t even political. Maureen Cavanaugh: Dean, why do you think is these images, it seems to be images that really set people off? Dean Nelson: Yeah, that’s a great question. If you believe that there is the kind of– if you do any kind of an image of the Prophet Mohammed or God that apparently some view it as blasphemy and you take your religion to that level then you just have to say well the Quran or the scriptures of the holy writings demand that I respond this way. I think that’s outrageous actually and can’t imagine any other aspect of society where just the drawing of an image, I’m thinking of the Jewish tradition or the Christian tradition that people have been securing different faiths for centuries but this one in particular seems to draw the most extreme response. Maureen Cavanaugh: And David? David Rolland: Yeah, I mean killing for religion is to me it’s psychotic. I mean people say oh this is cowardly what they did and that’s sort of a political term, political rhetorical term that people use but really I mean I would describe it is as psychotic, it is a mental illness to me. And there is so much mental illness in the world, in this country, everywhere. And you just have to be, I mean my first reaction is to want to fight back. As a journalist my first inclination is to almost maybe be well just first stand in solidarity with somebody a journalist who is attacked for presenting ideas but they didn’t even just sort of and want to be offensive for being offensive’s sake but that’s when you got to go, wait a minute you got it. First of all you got to have a good reason and you have to be careful because you are not just playing with your own life, you are playing with the lives of people around you. Maureen Cavanaugh: I just want to make the point that there is certain headline grabbing political element to the fact that these journalists seems to have been targeted by what it apparently Islamic extremists and these attackers were caught on videotape so the world can see it but there have been deadly attacks on journalists say in Mexico, in Central America across the world that hardly get any publicity. David Rolland: Exactly and this was my original point when we first started this conversation is that journalists have been dying at an alarming rate in Mexico and in the rest of Central America for trying to report on drug cartels or corruption in government. If you want a death sentence put on you in Russia start talking about corruption in the Russian government and with the oil companies. Russia and Mexico are two of the most dangerous places to be journalists in the world right now. There’s a very, very serious in my view movement about shooting the messenger literally shooting the messenger that has accumulated some very, very high numbers in recent years. I’m not trying to minimize what it’s happening in France, this is a horrible tragic outrageous thing that happened in France but a lot more than 12 journalists died last year in Mexico trying to report about the drug problems. Maureen Cavanaugh: Batton, I’m going to let you have the last word. Batton Lash: Okay. And along those lines I mean it’s all well and good that we’re opening up dialog with Cuba but Cuba has been horrible towards political cartoonists and there are still prisoners I mean they were taking their pens away and throwing into jail. Maureen Cavanaugh: We’re all trying to still make sense of this and as I said KPBS is going to be following this story through the day. I want to thank you all for speaking with me about it in this early stage. Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University. David Rolland is editor of San Diego CityBeat and Batton Lash is a San Diego based cartoonist. Thank you all very much. Batton Lash: Thank you Maureen. David Rolland: Thank you. Maureen Cavanaugh: Coming up more humane cages boost the price of eggs in California, it’s 12:21. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition.
At least 12 people were killed during a shooting at the headquarters of the satirical Charlie Hebdo weekly in Paris, police say.
The authorities have been hunting three suspects who left the scene of the attack; they were reportedly identified by police late Wednesday.
The Kouachi brothers, both in their 30s, are said to be French citizens; there's no word on the nationality of Mourad, 18.
Police have conducted operations related to their investigation in Paris as well as Reims, some 90 miles to the east.
Speaking to reporters at the scene of today's attack, President Francois Hollande said this was a "terrorist operation" in which journalists were "cowardly assassinated."
"France today faced a shock," Hollande said, according to a BBC interpreter. "Today I'm thinking about the victims."
Many in France gathered in the streets Wednesday evening, holding up signs reading "Je Suis Charlie" — I Am Charlie — in a show of respect toward those slain and defiance toward the attackers.
"There is a feeling of togetherness," says NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who visited a large vigil at the Place de la République. "Everyone out there was chanting, 'We are all Charlie.' "
ISimilar gatherings are being held outside the country — including Germany, Britain, and the U.S. The phrase also became a top-trending hashtag on Twitter.
Several large French media companies united to send a letter of support to Charlie Hebdo's staff, offering to help them continue publishing and stressing the importance of "preserving the principles of independence and liberty of thought and expression."
In a televised briefing, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said "at least two" gunmen entered the offices of the magazine at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Paris time.
NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that the men first shot and killed a police officer stationed at the magazine, then walked up to the second floor newsroom and opened fire.
Four of the magazine's founding cartoonists were killed in the attack. Eleven other people were injured, four of whom are in critical condition.
One video broadcast on French television shows two masked men leaving the building and then trading fire with a police officer. The officer is injured and one of the men stands above him and kills him at point-blank range. Eleanor says during the exchange, one of the men shouts, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad."
Authorities have not yet determined a motive and no organization has taken responsibility.
Of the 12 killed, two were police officers and eight were journalists, said Molins.
The gunmen then got into a black vehicle to escape. They went to a Paris suburb where they abandoned their car and jumped into another.
A massive manhunt ensued in the Paris area, with some school trips canceled and some metros closed. France has also beefed up its security, which Hollande said would help apprehend those who perpetrated the attack.
Charlie Hebdo is a magazine that has faced threats over its content in the past. Back in 2011, the weekly printed a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Afterward, its offices were destroyed in a firebomb attack.
This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time. Refresh this page for the latest.
Update at 6:43 p.m. ET: Suspects' Names
Multiple French media outlets, citing a police bulletin, say the suspects are two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, and a third man, Hamyd Mourad.
The Kouachi brothers are believed to have been born in Paris. According to journalist Elijah J. Magnier, one of the men left his ID card in a car they abandoned today.
According to the AP:
"Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency, and sentenced to 18 months in prison. During his 2008 trial, he told the court he was motivated by his outrage at television images of torture of Iraqi inmates at the U.S. prison at Abu Ghraib."
Update at 4:53 p.m. ET: Three Suspects In Attacks Reportedly Identified
French police have reportedly identified the suspects in Wednesday's attack. And filling in a key detail that has been in flux today, the authorities say they're hunting three fugitives (some earlier reports had cited two gunmen).
News outlets in France and the AP are reporting those developments.
Update at 2:05 p.m. ET. A Day Of Mourning:
In a speech to his country on Wednesday night, French President François Hollande said that Charlie Hebdo represented a message of freedom.
Today, Hollande said, he was promising that "France would keep defending that message on their behalf."
"France has always defeated its enemies when it rallies around its values," Hollande said, according to a BBC interpreter.
Hollande declared Thursday a day of mourning and asked the French to hold a minute of silence at noon.
Hollande did not update the country on the investigation, but promised that "everything will be done to capture the perpetrators" and bring them to justice.
Update at 1:39 p.m. ET. Can't Let 'These Bastards Win':
In an interview with Radio France, Philippe Val, the former director of Charlie Hebdo said he had lost all his friends today.
"Our way of rendering justice is to not to stand by quietly, it is to continue," he said holding back tears. "One cannot do otherwise. I hope that this tragedy, which is irreparable, will change things, that we will not let the bastards win. It is necessary to have a forceful and realistic discussion on this rising danger, which is real and that has been denounced for years. We have not listened. Today you have to listen to us, do not leave us alone."
Update at 12:38 p.m. ET. 'Cowardly, Evil' Attacks:
In a statement from the White House, President Obama called the attacks "cowardly" and "evil."
He said this attack is not only an attack on Paris, but also an attack on people who hold core values — like free expression and a free press — dear.
"We will stand with the people of France through this very, very difficult time," Obama said.
Update at 12:25 p.m. ET. Shouted 'Allahu Akbar':
In televised briefing, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said "at least two" gunmen entered the offices of the magazine at about 11:30 a.m. Paris time.
They killed a police officer guarding the building and quickly moved to the second floor and found the meeting room where the editors were gathered.
They opened fire, killing eight journalists. Molins said witnesses said the men yelled, "Allahu Akbar" and said they had "avenged the Prophet Muhammad."
Molins said at the moment authorities are still looking for the men and the French anti-terror cell has been mobilized.
Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Top Editor, Cartoonists Killed:
According to France 24, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today the top editor at the newspaper, Stéphane Charbonnier, was killed during the attack.
According to the Journal, top editors were gathered for an editorial meeting when the gunmen burst into the office.
The Times reports:
"A lawyer for the newspaper said that a number of prominent editors and cartoonists had been killed on Wednesday, including the cartoonists Stéphane Charbonnier, known as 'Charb,' and Jean Cabut, who signs his work 'Cabu.' He said that the cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac were also among the victims."
In reporting his death, the French newspaper Le Monde points back to an interview with a defiant Charbonnier, after the paper had received threats.
"It's perhaps a bit pompous, what I'm about to say, but I would rather die standing than to live on my knees," Charbonnier told the paper.
Charbonnier's last drawing featured a shabby-looking militant. It said, "Still no attack in France." The militant responds, "Wait! We can send best wishes until the end of January."
Update at 11:49 a.m. ET. #JeSuisCharlie:
Demonstrations in solidarity are planned throughout France. Le Monde links to this map, showing where and at what time.
Parisians will march at the Place de la République for "freedom of the press, democracy, and the Republic."
Meanwhile, on the Internet, Twitter has been innundated with posts tagged with #JeSuisCharlie, or I am Charlie.
Most express their support for freedom of expression and of the press. Others have posted pictures or drawings of their pens and pencils.
Update at 11 a.m. ET. 'Every American Stands With You':
"Every American stands with you today," Secretary of State John Kerry said moments ago from Foggy Bottom.
Kerry said that France is a symbol of democracy that has "sparked many revolutions of the human spirit."
"Today's murders are part of a larger confrontation," Kerry said, "between civilization itself and those who are opposed to a civilized world."
Despite today's attack, Kerry said, civilization — with its core values of freedom of expression and a free press — will prevail.
"Brave and decent people around the world ... will never give in to those seeking to destroy core values," Kerry said.
Update at 9:46 a.m. ET. Muslim Group Condemns Attack:
The French Council for the Muslim Faith, which is often acts as a liaison between the French government and the Muslim community, issued a statement condemning the attack.
"In an international context of political tensions fueled by delusions of terrorist groups taking advantage unfairly of Islam, we call on all those committed to the values of the Republic and democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to throw fuel to the fire," the group said. Faced with this tragedy, "... we call the Muslim community to exercise the utmost vigilance against possible manipulations from groups referred to extremists of any kind."
Update at 9:30 a.m. ET. Three Gunmen:
During a press conference, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was perpetrated by three gunmen. This is one more than the two previously reported.
"All means will be carried out... in order to ensure as quickly as possible that we can identify the actors and arrest them so they are punished," Cazeneuve said, according to a translation by CNN.
Update at 9:23 a.m. ET. 'Outrageous Attack':
President Obama called the attack in Paris "outrageous." In a statement released by the White House, Obama added in part:
"France is America's oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice."
Update at 8:15 a.m. ET. What The Magazine Printed:
In January of 2013, Charlie Hebdo published what it called "The Life of Muhammad."
According to the magazine editors, this was a non-satirical look at life of the prophet. But others took umbrage.
Al Jazeera reported at the time:
"A senior political advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the work as a deliberate provocation.
"'To transform the life of the prophet of Islam into a cartoon is in itself a mistake,' Ibrahim Kalin wrote on his Twitter account.
"'Whatever the people at Charlie Hebdo say, this is a provocation.'"
Hebdo's last tweet, by the way, showed a cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State.
Update at 7:53 a.m. ET. The Scene:
Video being shown on French television shows a chaotic scene as people reacted to shots being fired in the middle of Paris.
One video shows two masked gunmen trading fire with a police officer. The officer is injured in the exchange, falls to the ground and one of the gunmen then stands above him and shoots him at point-blank range. The gunmen then jump into a black car to get away.
Update at 7:49 a.m. ET. Live Coverage:
If you're interested, France 24 has live, English-language coverage of the shootings.
Update at 7:39 a.m. ET. The Magazine Was Being Protected:
"This seems to be the terrorist attack that France has been bracing for."
That's the word from NPR's Eleanor Beardsley who is now at the site of the shooting.
Eleanor tells our Newscast unit that France has been warning of this kind of attack for a while now, especially since it joined the U.S. effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Eleanor says that because of previous threats, the magazine's office was protected, but it's not clear how the gunmen managed to get past the extra security.
She describes Paris as being in shock. She says people from nearby office buildings have gathered just outside the police cordons trying to make sense of what's just happened.
Update at 7:35 a.m. ET. Death Toll Rises:
Reuters just moved this alert:
"Twelve people including two police officers were killed in a shooting at the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, a police spokesman said in an update on the death toll."
Update at 6:58 p.m. ET. France Raises National Security Level:
During a press conference, President François Hollande said the country had raised its security profile to apprehend the people who perpetrated the attack.
Hollande said France would protect basic tenets of French society, including protecting a free press.
Hollande said that police had thwarted other terror plots in recent weeks.
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