It’s been called the city of light and love, but darkness and hate were on display in Paris when masked gunmen stormed into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and shot to death 12 people and wounded at least a dozen more. The magazine is known for its lampooning of religion and religious leaders of all faiths, including Islam. One of the assailants, all three of whom escaped the scene, was captured on video shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
Condemnation of the terrorist attack poured in from around the world, including from the Arab League, the French Muslim Council, and al-Azhar, one of the premier Islamic institutions of the Sunni Muslim world; from Russia, India, Britain, Germany, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, the United States and others.
President Barack Obama called the attack “cowardly,” and “evil.” He offered the French government any assistance it may need going forward, and pledged to stay vigilant in hunting and bringing to justice the perpetrators of this attack and rolling up “the networks that help to advance these kinds of plots.”
“The fact that this was an attack on journalists,” said Mr. Obama, “underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press.” But, he insisted, “The values that we share with the French people, a belief, a universal belief in freedom of expression, is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke about the attack in Paris as an attack on the fundamental right to free expression:
Act: “Free expression and a free press are core values. They are universal values -- principles that can be attacked but never eradicated, because brave and decent people around the world will never give in to the intimidation and the terror that those seeking to destroy those values employ. I agree with the French imam who today called the slain journalists martyrs for liberty.”
Mr. Kerry spoke directly to the people of Paris and all of France: “Every American stands with you today… We stand with you in solidarity and in commitment both to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause which the extremists fear so much and which has always united our two countries – freedom.”