France, Charlie Hebdo Commemorate One Year After Attacks
By Abby Shamray
January 7 marked the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack, the first of a string of terrorist strikes across France in 2015. In memory of the seventeen who died at Charlie Hebdo’s offices that day and two days later in a related attack at a kosher supermarket, as well as the November 13 attacks that killed 130, the satirical magazine published a 32-page special edition that covered Islamic extremism, organized religion, government-rooted issues, and intelligence failures, which the magazine argues all contributed to the violence. The magazine’s publishing director Laurent Sourisseau, known by his pseudonym Riss, illustrated the cover and wrote an editorial about surviving the attacks.
The cover features a bearded figure representing God with bloodied robes bearing an automatic weapon over his shoulder. The headline reads, “One year later, the killer is still at large.”
According to CBS News, almost all those believed to be responsible for perpetrating the attacks in January and November are thought to be dead, although the staff of Charlie Hebdo asserts the opposite throughout the memorial edition. The cover and inside features imply that more violence is to come in the future, and that it is not just the attackers who are the “assassins” but also the many other elements that led to the success of the attacks.
In his editorial, Riss stood firmly in favor of secularism as the solution to curbing the epidemic of violence and reminisced about the days when “France was seen as a secular island where you could joke, draw, and have fun without worrying about dogma and crazies.”
Riss concluded that the “convictions of atheists and secularists can move more mountains than the faith of believers.”
Eric Portheault, financial director of Charlie Hebdo, told Agence-France Presse that the staff of the magazine has felt isolated despite the outpouring of support: “We had hoped that others would do satire, too. No one wants to join us in this fight because it’s dangerous. You can die doing it.”
Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based non-profit, released a report on January 4 entitled “Jihad Against Journalists” that summarized how groups such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabab have used violence to silence journalists and, by extension, repress the societies that they cover.
Christophe Deloire, the organization’s secretary-general, wrote in a statement accompanying the report that, “As the Charlie Hebdo massacre showed, we are entering a period in which this threat is becoming globalized.”
The report stated that ISIS and Al-Qaeda were responsible for 40 percent of journalists’ deaths in 2015, and that the top two countries in which the deaths occurred were Syria and France.
French President Francois Hollande participated in five commemorations from January 5 to 10 in honor of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, as reported by the Irish Times. Hollande and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled plaques outside the former Charlie Hebdo offices, the place where the fleeing assassins gunned down a Muslim policeman, and the kosher supermarket.
In his New Year’s Eve wishes, Hollande said, “We haven’t finished with terrorism. What happened has changed us.”