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Church State Issues

Muslims murder French cartoonists for mocking Islam

Jan 7, 2015

Arizona Republic

One good reason to keep government and religion separate!!!! Well, make that 12 good reasons!!!


Manhunt on for gunmen in Paris terrorist attack that killed 12

Associated Press 11:48 a.m. MST January 7, 2015

Reports say gunmen opened fire in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and injuring 11.

Masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a weekly newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, methodically killing 12 people Wednesday, including the editor, before escaping in a car. It was France's deadliest postwar terrorist attack.

Shouting "Allahu akbar!" as they fired, the men also spoke flawless, unaccented French in the military-style noon-time attack on the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, located near Paris' Bastille monument. The publication's depictions of Islam have drawn condemnation and threats before — it was firebombed in 2011 — although it also satirized other religions and political figures.

President Francois Hollande called the slayings "a terrorist attack without a doubt," and said several other attacks have been thwarted in France in recent weeks. Fears have been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis returning from conflicts in Syria and Iraq will stage attacks at home.

France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, holding aloft pens and papers reading "Je suis Charlie" — "I am Charlie."

Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.

Amateur video shows the moment gunmen flee from a Paris newspaper where at least ten journalists were killed and then shoot dead a wounded police officer at point-blank range. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left four people critically wounded, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.

Clad all in black with hoods and carrying machine guns, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.

The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper's editor, Stephane Charbonnier — widely known by his pen name Charb — killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video and a man who watched in fear from his home across the street.

The witness, who refused to allow his name to be used because he feared for his safety, said the attackers were so methodical he first mistook them for France's elite anti-terrorism forces. Then they fired on the officer.

"They knew exactly what they had to do and exactly where to shoot. While one kept watch and checked that the traffic was good for them, the other one delivered the final coup de grace," he said. "They ran back to the car. The moment they got in, the car drove off almost casually."

The witness added: "I think they were extremely well-trained, and they knew exactly down to the centimeter and even to the second what they had to do."

Eight journalists, a guest and two police officers were killed, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. Among the dead were Bernard Maris, an economist who a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Berbard Verlhac, better known as Tignous.

"Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo," one of the men shouted in French, according to a video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other video showed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great"— could be heard among the gunshots.

The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly. One even bent over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, the prosecutor said, and they hijacked a Renault Clio. There were conflicting accounts of whether the manhunt was for two or three attackers.

Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al-Qaida. In an interview with the newspaper l'Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes, and she hid under a desk.

The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, "from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result."

Both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State's leader giving New Year's wishes. Police officers and firemen gather outside the French

Police officers and firemen gather outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015.(Photo: Associated Press)

Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of its founder.

Another cartoon, released in this week's issue and entitled "Still No Attacks in France," had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying "Just wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year's wishes." Charb was the artist.

"This is the darkest day of the history of the French press," said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.

In the winter 2014 edition of the al-Qaida magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: "Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on."

In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled "France the Imbecile Invader."

An al-Qaida tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack "inspiring."

President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression. He offered prayers and support for France, which he called "America's oldest ally."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France,

"We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values," Cameron said in the House of Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a "cynical crime," and pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism.

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel, "The Satanic Verses," drew a death edict from Iran's religious authorities, said all must stand with Charlie Hebdo "to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity."

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the "hateful act," and urged Muslims and Christians "to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism."

On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.

The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for the weekly and for journalistic freedom. The weekly's website collapsed earlier Wednesday but was later restored.


Source

French weekly has history of angering Muslims with cartoons

Associated Press 11:55 a.m. MST January 7, 2015

PARIS — The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo's staple is to be provocative — poking fun at popes, presidents as well as the Prophet Muhammad.

The satirical weekly attacked Wednesday by gunmen, killing at least 12, has a history of drawing outrage across the Muslim world with crude cartoons of Islam's holiest figure. The magazine's offices were firebombed in November 2011 after it published a spoof issue that "invited" Muhammad to be its guest editor and put his caricature on the cover.

A year later, the magazine published more Muhammad drawings amid an uproar over an anti-Muslim film. The cartoons depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses. As passions raged, the French government defended free speech even as it rebuked Charlie Hebdo for fanning tensions.

The small-circulation weekly leans toward the left and takes pride in making acerbic commentary on world affairs through cartoons and spoof reports.

"We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it's a paper and pencil," the Muhammad cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, told The Associated Press in 2012. "A pencil is not a weapon. It's just a means of expression."

Editor Stephane Charbonnier, among the 10 journalists killed Wednesday, also defended the Muhammad cartoons speaking to The AP in 2012.

"Muhammad isn't sacred to me," said Charbonnier, who used the pen name Charb. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Quranic law."

Islam is not alone in being singled out by Charlie Hebdo's satire. Past covers include retired Pope Benedict XVI in amorous embrace with a Vatican guard; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy looking like a sick vampire; and an Orthodox Jew kissing a Nazi soldier.

The magazine occasionally publishes investigative journalism, taking aim at France's high and mighty.

Charlie Hebdo has come under pressure ever since its 2011 Muhammad issue. Its website has been hacked. It faced a lawsuit over the prophet cartoons. Riot police once guarded its offices. Charb lived under police protection — and his bodyguard was killed Wednesday along with another officer.

Charb told Le Monde newspaper two years ago: "I'd rather die standing than live on my knees."

One of his last cartoons, published in this week's issue, seemed an eerie premonition.

"Still no attacks in France," an extremist fighter says. "Wait — we have until the end of January to present our New Year's wishes."

Shortly after the attack, Charlie Hebdo's website went down. Hours later, it was back up with the slogan "Je Suis Charlie" emblazoned against a black background.

A click on the rallying cry of solidarity — which went viral on Twitter — brings up the same message in several languages, including Arabic.