Cartoonists react: The pen strikes back

Cartoonists react: The pen strikes back
Illustrators around the world draw reactions to the massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
3 min read
08 January, 2015
Cartoonists worldwide have used mockery and defiance in their reactions to the murder of satirists and journalists at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Two masked gunmen carrying assault rifles attacked the magazine's editorial floor on Wednesday. Hebdo's chief cartoonist and four other illustrators were among the twelve people killed.

The magazine has stoked religious tension with the repeated publication of cartoon caircatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims believe to be a provocative insult against their religion.

Cartoonists were united that perceived insult was no justification for murder.


The Independent newspaper in the UK summed up the mood of defiance.

Many others showed pencils and pens as weapons.

Charlie Hebdo has proven a divisive publication with a small audience but the attack appeared to be designed to intimidate anyone who believed in free speech.

In a country which produced Voltaire's famous assertion, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it",  the attack is being portrayed as an attack on Frenchness itself.

Some cartoons from western artists bordered on Islamophobia. But many managed to mock the attackers and their ideology.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) and other like-minded militant groups took to social media to celebrate the attack.

Hashtags in Arabic such as #OurRevengeForTheMessenger, #ParisIsBurning and the #LionsOfTawheed [monotheism] were all extensively posted on Twitter. 

#KillAllMuslims gathered similar levels of traction.

Conversely, amid a climate of hostility and division, messages of empathy and concord have also proliferated.

The Union des Organisations Islamiques de France condemned the killings and has called on all imams to speak out against the violence.  

Muslims from around the world have used Twitter and the hashtags #NotInMyName and #JeSuisCharlie to express their condemnation of the bloodletting in Paris.

In London, Muslims posted messages of solidarity and support with the people in France on the gates of its embassy. 

Similarly, many French people have been quick to differentiate the violent extremism of the attackers and the reality lived by most of the nation's Muslims. 

"The Muslim community has to face the fanatics," Matthieu Ecoiffier, deputy political editor of French newspaper Liberacion told the UK's Channel 4 News. "And also they are facing this climate of intellectuals and writers who are saying Muslims are intruders in French society, which is totally wrong." 

At a mass vigil in central Paris a lit up sign read "Not Afraid".

Before the attack, an issue of Charlie Hebdo could expect to sell 65,000 copies. They are printing a million for the next edition - and expecting to sell them all.