The international press has expressed its unanimous support for the principle of freedom of expression, which was struck at its core by the attack in Paris on 7 January. EURACTIV France reports.
Media companies the world over paid tribute to the French paper Charlie Hebdo following the terrorist attack on their offices on 7 January. Television stations and websites from South Africa to Argentina, and Australia to the United States, broadcast the paper’s famous satirical cartoons.
The front pages of the daily papers in France all carried a reference to Charlie Hebdo, many with black backgrounds, caricature drawings, banners or the slogan “Je suis Charlie”.
France and the French media in mourning
Libération ran the headline “They’ve killed Cabu!” a nod to the past headline “They’ve killed Jaurès” from 1914. The headline of Le Figaro simply read “Freedom assassinated”. The MEP Patrick Le Hyaric, who is also the editor-in-chief of l’Humanité, said it was time, now more than ever, for France to “assert itself as an indivisible, tolerant, secular and social republic”.
The front page of 20 Minutes shouted “Barbarism”, while the Catholic paper La Croix spoke of a “grieving France” with a picture of an ink pot spilled over press freedom. La Tribune’s landing page showed a collection of Charlie Hebdo’s controversial satirical cartoons with the headline “They died for this!”.
International press united
The front page headline of the Berliner Zeitung reads “Vive la liberté”.
Varied ethical responses
The Guardian mourned “An assault on democracy”, while The Independent printed a caricature of a bleeding middle finger, raised in defiance.
The Danish newspaper Politiken left one page blank, except for a picture of broken pencil, and Das Bild condemned the “cowardly murder” on its front page.
American media companies chose, for ethical reasons, not to publish caricatures from the French publication. They did not, however, shy away from publishing images of a French police officer as he was murdered by one of the terrorists; a subject boycotted by the French media. The New York Times told Agence France Presse that “after deep reflection, the New York Times decided that a description of the caricatures would give sufficient information for the readers to understand the situation”.
Even the Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun, the most widely-read paper in the world, with a circulation of 10 million, led with the Paris massacre.
In total, the front pages of at least 72 newspapers published on 8 January were dedicated to the shooting.
National mourning in France
The French President, François Hollande, announced a day of national mourning on Thursday, and called for national unity. Manuel Valls described the assembly of over 100,000 people in France on the evening of 7 January as “extraordinary”.
Residents of Sydney, New York, Washington and Brussels also turned out in force in a show of solidarity with France. The hunt for the three terrorists, two of whom have now been identified by the police as brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, continues.