Terrorism in Paris

Jan 20, 2015 - by Marilyn Z. Tomlins - 0 Comments

Charlie Hebdo attack

(Photo AP)

While protests in Muslim countries against France are increasing rapidly, the French president, government and people continue to support the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo whose editor and several members of its staff were gunned down by two Islamist terrorists this January 2015. Also gunned down on the same day but at a kosher supermarket were four Jewish men. Meanwhile, Paris’s stores, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and museums are deserted  while 5,000 policemen and 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to guard government buildings, synagogues, mosques, Jewish and Muslim schools, and shopping malls and department stores like Galaries Lafayette.

By Marilyn Z. Tomlins 

Parisians woke on the morning of Wednesday, January 7, 2015, to an icy fog descending over the rooftops.

Two days previously, on Monday, the children had returned to school after the Christmas vacation, their parents having returned to work too. All already having had to cope with crowded buses and underground rail cars, and bumper to bumper road traffic for 48 hours, the fact that the weather was not looking so good, did not cheer anyone.

Worse was to come.

At around 11:45 am news began to circulate through the City of Light that a terrorist attack had just a few minutes earlier taken place at the offices of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo.  Several people had been shot: some might be dead.

The perpetrators -- it was not certain how many there were -- were hooded and dressed in black, and had shouted Allahu Akbar (Arabic for "God is Great") as they ran to a parked car and sped from the killing scene.

At the end of the day the death toll would stand at 12.

The following day -- Thursday, January 8 -- someone else would be gunned down, and the day after that -- Friday, January 9 -- another four people would be gunned down.

The total of dead having risen to 17, the three-day terrorist attack would be the worst terrorist attack France had suffered in 54 years. The worst was on Sunday, June 18, 1961, when a paramilitary organisation (the OAS - Organisation de l’armée secrete) opposed to the independence of the French colony of Algeria had detonated a bomb on a packed Strasbourg-Paris train killing 28 people and injuring over a hundred.

In June 1961 France and Algeria were at war -- the Algerian War (1954-1962).

In January 2015 France was not at war with any country. France was in armed conflict, yes, with the various radical Islamist groups, among these, ISIL, ISIS, IS, Boko Haram, Daesh and also al-Qaeda although it had been silent since the death of its leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011. And France was resisting through trial and imprisonment those in the country who either verbally or with acts of violence supported such radical Islamist groups.

But France was at peace.

Festive Season lights were still flickering along the boulevards and there was a bonne année -- a happy new year -- to look forward to.

Shattering that peace

At 1 p.m. on that Wednesday, January 7, the fog having lifted and a cold but bright sun shining, the news of the terrorist attack having broken, an atypical silence fell over Paris. The Parisians were scared. Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, in office since April 2014, had announced that France’s already existing Vigipirate anti-terror surveillance plan had been raised to its highest level of alert attentat -- terror alert.

The terrorists -- it still was not known if two or three gunman had attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices -- were on the run. They were dangerous and were not to be confronted. A number to call was given should they be spotted.

The story was that two gunmen had burst into a room where the satirical weekly was having its first editorial meeting of the year. The journalists in the room that included the editor, Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, 48, and in the post since 2009, having heard something which they had interpreted as Christmas fire-crackers going off outside in the corridor, thought that the two men in black, masked and wearing bullet-proof vests, and brandishing firearms was a prank the staff was playing on them. Then, one of the gunmen had called out the editor’s name and when Charb responded, the gunmen had shot him in the head.

Shot dead in that room were not only Charb but eight of his editorial staff. One was a woman, Elsa Cayat, 54, a psychoanalyst and columnist. Also dead in the room was Charb’s bodyguard, police officer Franck Brinsolaro of the Police Protection Service, 49, who had been assigned to protect Charb 24/7 when in 2013 al-Qaeda had put him on its list for assassination.

Also shot dead was a maintenance worker, Frédéric Boisseau, 42, from the company Sodexo, who was sitting at the reception desk when the two killers had burst into the building. It was the shot fired at him which the editorial staff had heard.

The two gunmen, their murderous work done, had then run from the building to a small black parked car and in the police chase which had followed the two gunman, having jumped from their car, had shot dead a police officer, Ahmed Merabet, 42, a Muslim of Algerian descent.

 Officer Merabet’s killing was filmed from the window of an apartment overlooking the scene.

Shown on television and on-line he was seen lying, already wounded, on the sidewalk, holding up his left arm in a pleading gesture as one of the gunmen aimed and fired an AK-47 at his head.

A short exchange of words between the gunman and the officer was recorded as follows:

Gunman: “Did you want to kill me?”

Officer Merabet: “No, it’s good, chief.”

The scene of the actual shooting of the officer was cut from the visual report, but it later circulated on-line causing a degree of debate because there was no damage to the officer to be seen, not even blood, and gun experts pointed out that a shot from an AK-47 would blow anyone’s head into pieces.

There were also reports which were later dropped that Officer Merabet had identified himself to the gunman as being a Muslim.

Office Merabet lying lifeless on the sidewalk, the two terrorists, had run back to their car, calling out, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We have killed Charlie Hebdo!”

Incredible as it will appear, the gunmen, their car in no way powerful, had then thrown off the chasing police vehicle and having abandoned their car a while later, they had hijacked another, forcing the driver out at gunpoint, and had disappeared into the late winter afternoon.

In the night which followed dozens of shocked Parisians holding lit candles or flowers stood as near to the Charlie Hebdo building as the police would allow them:  officers from the police’s forensics sector were inside and around the building gathering evidence.

As for the other Parisians and the few Festive Season tourists still in the city, they stayed indoors. They feared another attack because military experts had pointed out that the killers must have received military training somewhere, perhaps in Syria or Iraq, because they had carried out their killing with military precision, and that they were bound to attack again. One military expert pointed out that there must be a third gunman who had waited in the car.  “They would not have left the car unattended,” he said.

By then the two terrorist gunmen had been named: one of them had either deliberately dropped his identification card in the car or it had fallen from a pocket without him having been aware of it.

The two were brothers: Chérif Kouachi, 32, and Saïd Kouachi, 34. Both were French-born of Algerian descent.

Another name was released. Mourad Hamyd, 18, was said to have been either with the two gunmen and had waited for them in their car, or he had given them logistic assistance.

At midnight Hamyd accompanied by his father walked into a police station: he was at school while the killing was going on and this was corroborated by his teacher and the pupils in his class. He was in his final year at school, and there being no reason for his arrest, he was released.

As for the two Kouachi brothers, at 10 o’clock on the morning after their attack on Charlie Hebdo they would pull up at a gas station 30 miles north of Paris. Holding up the attendant, who would describe them to police, they demanded gas and food from its small self-service and left with the cash the man had.

 Je suis Charlie

That day -- Thursday, January 8 -- Parisians began to hold up a white-on-black slogan Je suis Charlie - "I am Charlie."  They were doing so not only in sympathy for the victims but also in deviance to show that France was a democracy.

Television networks adopted the slogan too.

The slogan was created by Joachim Roncin, an artist and music journalist with the free magazine Stylist.

When even France’s Prime Minister, Manuel Vals, carried a sign with the slogan into an emergency meeting of the cabinet at the presidential Élysées Palace, Roncin told the media that he had created the sign because, “I just got the idea because I’ve been reading the series of children’s books created by the English illustrator Martin Handord with my son.”

He had tweeted the slogan already at 12:52 p.m. the previous day.

The series of children’s books he was referring to is titled Where’s Wally? in the United States and in Canada as Where’s Waldo? Here in France the series is titled Où est Charlie? -Where is Charlie?

Charlie Hebdo got its name in November 1970 after the then French government had banned a satirical magazine entitled Hara-Kiri which had joked about the death of the World War Two hero, General Charles de Gaulle, who had held the office of President of France twice in the period from 1959/1969. Some of the Hara-Kiri staff had then launched another satirical magazine under the title Charlie Hebdo. The "Charlie" derived both from the cartoon character Charlie Brown from Peanuts and from General Charles de Gaulle. Hebdo is short for hebdomadaire -- weekly.

Further killing

The Parisians despite not admitting it when foreign reporters pushed microphones into their faces continued to be certain that there were going to be further terrorist attacks in their city. Announcements in the Métro underground rail network, in French and in English, to report suspicious behavior and parcels which looked abandoned, did not calm their nerves.

Indeed, when early on Thursday morning news came that there had been another fatal shooting, they were sure that they were in for a very rough time.

Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 27, a trainee policewoman from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, was attending a minor traffic accident in the community of Montrouge southwest of Paris when a man dressed in black and wearing a bulletproof vest but who was not masked, jumped from a small car and while running towards her blasted her with what an eyewitness described as “not a big gun because he held it with just one hand.”

As the policewoman was with the municipal police she was unarmed. (Municipal police fall under the local town halls and they are mainly traffic controllers and keepers of the peace, having to summon the state police when a situation looks as if it going to get out of control.)

The wounded policewoman on the ground, two male passersby tackled the shooter as he was running back to his small car. One of the men, a street sweeper, was in turn gunned down.

In the confusion which followed, the shooter raced off, the car to be found abandoned later in the day.

The seriously-wounded policewoman and street sweeper were rushed to hospital. The life of the latter could be saved. The policewoman’s life could not.

The confusion which had been at the killing scene -- a bystander had described it as “panic” -- continued, the police trying to establish whether the shooter had been involved in the car accident to which the policewoman had been summoned, and indeed whether there had been more than one shooter. The police could not or would not say whether there was a connection between the Charlie Hebdo and the Montrouge shootings. Media reports did however describe the Montrouge shooter as of “African origin.”

On the morning of Friday, two days after the fatal Charlie Hebdo shooting and 24 hours after that of the policewoman, a cell-phone call to the police alerted them to a shooting and hostage taking at a kosher supermarket, the Hyper Cacher, on the eastern border of Paris at Porte de Vincennes. The caller was in the store and had grabbed the opportunity to call the police when the attention of the man who had just then burst into the store had been averted.  The man, dressed in black trousers and a short-sleeved gray t-shirt and wearing a bullet-proof vest but was not masked, was brandishing several firearms. He was of African origin.

Instantly, the Paris police unit RAID (Recherche, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion - Research, Assistance, Intervention, Deterrence), who had also been called out to the two previous shootings, were on site, and also the FIPN (Force d’intervention de la police nationale -- Intervention Force of the National Police). They blocked off the road, halted public transport running through the area, locked down the schools, and ordered all shops in the area to close. The police also ordered all shops in Paris’s Jewish quarter, the Marais, to close.

Earlier that morning Paris’s Préfecture de Police (Police Headquarters) had issued a Call For Witnesses. The police were looking for two individuals: a man and a woman, considered armed and dangerous. They were wanted in connection with the shooting in Montrouge.

The two were Amedy Coulibaly, 33, of Malian descent, and Hayat Boumeddiene, 27, of Algerian descent. Boumeddienne was Coulibaly’s common-law wife: the couple were religiously married, but in France a marriage is only legal if it had been performed by a mayor at a town hall, so French law did not consider the two legally husband and wife.

Soon the police confirmed that the man holding the people hostage in the store was Coulibaly. The latter had identified himself as such to those he was holding hostage. Whether Boumeddienne was in the store with him the police again could not, or would not, say. 

The police reported that at least one person had been shot dead when the assailant had burst into the store which was busy in the wake of the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

No sooner had the news been reported that another terrorist attack was under way in Paris, than news broke that the two Kouachi brothers had been involved in a shoot-out with police and that the two were holed up in a printing warehouse in the small community of Dammartin-en-Goële (8,000 inhabitants), 22 miles northeast from Paris and six miles from Charles de Gaulle International Airport -- and not far from where they had held up the gas station. Saïd, the younger of the two, had been slightly wounded in the neck.

 The two were holding one or two hostages according to reports.

At 5 p.m., night having fallen, a cold wind sweeping over the countryside and the temperature hardly above freezing, heavily-armed police stormed both the printing warehouse in Dammartin-en-Goële and the kosher supermarket in Paris.

Some reporters said later that the order to the police to attack was a joint decision of President Hollande, Prime Minister Vals and Interior Minister Cazeneuve and they had made the decision because the two Kouachi brothers had burst from the warehouse’s entrance, guns blazing.

For the Dammartin-en-Goële attack the militarized Gendarmerie was in charge, its GIGN (Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale -- National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) in action. The GIGN is the Gendarmerie’s equivalent of the state police’s RAID. Assisting the GIGN was the FIPN already in action in Paris at the Porte de Vincennes.

The Kouachi brothers went down under a hail of fire and in Paris the moment the police stormed the kosher supermarket making an ear-splitting noise with explosions, Coulibaly, in full battle dress, an AKS-74U assault rifle in his hands, sprinted to the glass doors of the entrance, but went down instantly under FIPN fire.

Inside the store four hostages, all Jewish men, lay dead. Coulibaly had shot them when he had burst into the store that morning.

Some of the survivors had hidden in a walk-in freezer in the basement having been led there by one of the store’s employees, Lassana Bathily, 24. The latter a Mali immigrant, and a Muslim, is today a hero because having seen the hostages safe in the freezer which he had switched off, he crawled through a tiny service exit and ran to the police who at first thought he was a terrorist and hurled him down to the ground, sitting on him to handcuff him. He told the police what the interior of the shop looked like and even drew maps of the interior for them.

Bathily has for some years been trying unsuccessfully to obtain French nationality. He has now been given French nationality and his new passport will be handed to him in a short televised ceremony.

“Following the acts of bravery by Mr. Bathily during the hostage taking in the Hyper Casher market on January 9, the Interior Ministry has fast-tracked his request for citizenship,” read a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

One hostage Bathily had led to the basement had his baby with him. Another had his young child with him.

A few days after their ordeal, having recovered slightly, some of the hostages spoke to the media. Those who had been in the basement freezer told of how they had all desperately tried to keep the two children from crying so as not to alert the gunman of their presence. They also told of how Coulibaly had, on entering the store, asked one of the store’s customers what his name was. The man had obligingly told Coulibaly his first name. Coulibaly then said that he wanted to know his surname and when the man told him, he cold-bloodedly shot him in the head.

On the same day as the Charlie Hebdo attack the non-fatal shooting of a jogger in a park outside the community of Fontenay-aux-Roses, southwest of Paris, had received little media attention. At 8 that night the jogger, 32, had knocked on the door of a house and had asked the homeowner to summon the police because he had been shot: he was shot in the shoulder and he did not know his assailant but he told the police that he was un type européen -- white. Because of that description the police did not link the shooting to the two Kouachi brothers, and indeed not later to Coulibaly. Now though the shooting has been linked to Coulibaly because ballistic tests conducted on five bullet cartridges found at the site in Fontenay-aux-Roses matched the Russian automatic Tokarev pistol which Coulibaly had used in the supermarket and which he had left behind along with the arsenal of firearms and firebombs he had in his possession.

Therefore, the Fontenay-aux-Roses assailant is still being sought by the police.

Boumeddienne, Coulibaly’s common law wife, was also nowhere to be found, but she was soon traced to Istanbul airport. On Friday, January 2, the airport’s short circuit spy cameras had filmed her and a man checking through customs after having arrived on a flight from Madrid, Spain. The two -- he has been identified -- are now thought to have made their way from Istanbul to join ISIS in Syria.

Reasons

While the French are asking themselves why some young first generation French hate them so much, the family backgrounds of the two Kouachis and Coulibaly receive much media attention.

Coulibaly, born just outside Paris, was the only son to a Malian immigrant family of 10 children. At the age of 17 he had started off on a life of armed robbery and drug dealing for which he had gone to jail, having met Chérif Kouachi during one of his incarcerations, then becoming friends also with Saïd Kouachi.

In a video released on-line on the morning of Sunday, January 11, he pledged allegiance to ISIS -- Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -- and claimed that the attacks had been coordinated by himself and his “brothers” in “retribution” for what is done to “Palestinians in Gaza and Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”

He said, rather incomprehensibly: “What we are doing is completely legitimate given what they are doing. You cannot attack and not expect retribution so you are playing the victim as if you don’t understand what’s happening.”

He continued: “The brothers of our team were split into two groups. I went out a bit against the police. If we did things a bit together and a bit separately it was to have more impact.”

The two Kouachis, born in Paris’s working-class 10tharrondissement (district), had a youth of smoking pot, drinking beer, making and dancing to rap music, and of dead-end jobs and jail for hold-ups. In jail Cherif, the younger brother, had become radicalized with resulted in another jail term when he was arrested on his way to Charles de Gaulle Airport to fly to Syria. Saïd too had become radicalised, but he got married and fathered two children.

 The police having somehow decided that the two brothers were no longer a danger to society when Saïd got married and fathered two children, had stopped keeping on an eye on them.

 It has now been reported that in the time when police were no longer watching them they had set off for Yemen where they had received military training, training which they had made use of in their attack on Charlie Hebdo.

According to some media reports during the attack on the magazine they had said that they were with “al-Qaeda in Yemen.” It is thought that they were referring to another Islamist movement - AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) which has after the death of Osama Bin Laden been under the control of Nasser al-Wuhayshi, 38, of Yemen. (http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/08/aqap_emir_also_serve.php)

AQAP has since confirmed in a video entitled “A message regarding the blessed battle of Paris” that it had through the two Kouachis carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Said one of its leaders, Nasr al-Ansi, in the video: “We, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of Allah.”

That the two Kouachis were linked to al-Qaeda while Coulibaly was linked to ISIS, yet they had coordinated their terrorist attacks, has confirmed that the various Islamist groups despite being rivals do work together. They are rivals in that all are competing for the same funding sources and are vying with each other to win followers among the same nationalities.

Police are still investigating who had filmed the Coulibaly video, but as he referred to the shooting of the policewoman, and indeed to the Charlie Hebdo attack, it was filmed after those attacks. In other words on or around Thursday night.

The French and religion

Since France’s 1789 Revolution and its Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen – "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen," freedom of religion has been guaranteed French citizens. Reinforced in 1905 with the "Separation of the Churches and the State" law it means that in France the Church has no right in State affairs and the State has no right in Church affairs. The Church in question is the Roman Catholic Church, which along with Judaism, were the only religions practised at the time of the French Revolution.

France is therefore a secular country: here in France the word laïque is used. This means that France’s laïcite -- separation of church and state -- allows French citizens total freedom regarding religion.  

Therefore, today in France a child receives religious instruction only if the child attends a Catholic or Jewish or Muslim school. In fact, if a teacher in a State school speaks to a child of God the teacher can be dismissed. It also means that France’s head of state is not allowed to deliver a eulogy or sermon in any place of religion - Catholic church, Protestant temple, mosque or synagogue.

Also because of the country’s laïcité excessive signs of religion -- like a woman wearing the hijab -- are forbidden in France.  This is something France’s Muslims find difficult to understand and obey.

(Despite that the classification of people by their religion, or the color of their skin, is also not allowed, a 2011 survey showed that Christianity is the dominant religion in the country with 44 percent of the French being Christian. Of these 41 percent are Roman Catholic, 1 percent Protestant, and the remaining 2 percent belongs to the other Christian churches like the Greek or Russian Orthodox churches. The percentage of agnostics is 29 percent and the percentage of atheists is 13 percent. Two per cent is Muslims and 1 percent is Buddhist, and 1 percent is Jewish, and the remaining 10 percent are French who say that they are not one thing or another.)

Of the Muslims of whom there are about 6 million, 75 percent are believers but only 41 percent practice their religion.  (France had experienced an influx of Muslims after the independence of her African colonies which had begun in the 1950s.)

No one knows what percentage of the 41 percent thinks that Charlie Hebdo should have be silenced. In other words the government should have banned it. Or ban it now.

Always had only a small following

Charlie Hebdo has been losing money for some time. A few months ago it even appealed to its readers -- a measly 60,000 -- for donations in order to keep going. Having started publication in 1969 it already had to close for lack of funds in 1981 but had managed to restart publication in 1992.

Never popular, often disliked, the weekly featured cartoons and jokes, no individual and no religion, untouchable.

In 2014 Charlie Hebdo had a go at President François Hollande after the French gossip magazine Closer had published on its cover photos of him visiting a French actress at night when he had a live-in lover, the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, known then as France’s “First Lady” and she receiving an allowance from the State as such.

Closer had snapped the President riding pillion on a scooter to an apartment he and the actress were using as a love nest and he was wearing a crash helmet as the law required and which conveniently made it possible for him to hide his face from passersby when out on his nightly love shenanigans.

Charlie Hebdo’s cover showed a cartoon of a topless Trierweiler holding up a banner that read phallocratie -- male chauvinism -- and over her naked torso were written the words "Fuck the Macho."

Another 2014 Charlie Hebdo cover after Closer’s revelation showed President Hollande in a suit but his penis in the air and the penis saying, “Moi, Président” referring to how during his presidential campaign in 2012 he had always begun speeches with, “Moi, Président” -- When I am President.

The news weekly Nouvel Observateur had then asked its readers whether the satirical magazine had not gone too far and its readers had massively replied “oui” - yes.

The Prophet Muhammad and Islam were however Charlie Hebdo’s pet subjects for ridicule.

In July 2013 the magazine’s cover showed the Prophet Muhammad holding the Koran in front of him for protection against bullets being fired at him but a bullet hitting him all he same. Written on the red cover were the words, “Tuerie en Egypte” and “Le Coran c’est de la merde” and “Ça n’arrête pas les balles” an arrow under the last pointing to the Koran meaning that the Koran could not stop bullets. (Translation: "Death in Egypt, The Koran is Shit, and This Doesn’t Stop Bullets.”)

Christianity also received its fair share of ridicule. As recently as December of 2014, the cover showed a spread-eagled Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus under the heading, “Le veritable histoire du Petit Jésus” - The True story of Little Jesus.

In 2011, because of such cartoons, the magazine’s offices were firebombed and in 2012 its website was hacked and when the magazine republished the cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten the Great Mosque of Paris and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France failed in their bid to sue the magazine for blasphemy, the French court having ruled that the cartoons had not incited religious hatred.

Now, after the attack on Charlie Hebdo and on Hyper Kosher and a great show of solidarity manifested on Sunday, January 11, when 3.7 million people and 50 world leaders, 1.5 million of the people in Paris, had marched in France holding up Je suis Charlie signs, a few voices are beginning to be heard and they ask if Charlie Hebdo had not gone too far with its cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad: If there is not a point where satire stops and disrespect begins.

Burial and a new issue of Charlie Hebdo

Those who had lost their lives have been laid to rest.

The Jews were buried in Israel. The Charlie Hebdo staff in their respective villages or towns. The policemen in theirs: they had been awarded France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur -- Legion of Honor.

In the darkness of the night of Friday, January 16, Saïd Kouachi was buried in the cemetery of the town of Reims where he had lived with his wife and two children. His wife and mother were at the graveside: both had condemned his act.

Chérif Kouachi was buried on Saturday, January 17, in the cemetery of the Paris community of Gennevilliers, the last place where he had lived. He was also buried after night had fallen. Not one of his relatives or friends had attended his funeral.

Neither the mayor of Gennevilliers or of Reims wanted the two terrorists buried in their communities but French law forces a mayor to allow someone who had lived in the community to be buried in its cemetery.

The two graves will remain unmarked to prevent them being vandalised or from becoming Muslim shrines.

No one knows where Coulibaly will be buried, but there is a rumor that his body will be flown to Mali to be buried there.

Charlie Hebdo’s post-attack edition, published on Wednesday, January 14, sold out within 10 minutes of its appearances on the shelves at 6 in the morning. The magazine’s surviving staff had printed one million copies for French distribution only and these having been sold out immediately they had another two million printed. When those had also sold out within hours of being put on the shelves, it was announced that another four million in five languages will be printed. The magazine is selling for €3 ($3.50).

The magazine yet again had a go at the Prophet Mohammad. He is on the green cover, crying and holding up a Je suis Charlie sign. Above him is written, "Tout est pardonné"- All is forgiven.

On Sunday, January 18, France’s Sunday paper Journal du Dimanche reported that in a poll they had held 42 percent of French people thought that cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad should not be published. However, 57 percent thought that they should. One per cent had no opinion.

Respecting France’s 1789 "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" the paper did not give a breakdown of the religion of those they had polled.

And now?

While mosques and synagogues, and Jewish schools, are guarded by heavily-armed police and soldiers, kosher and halal shops are not and they are being vandalised. The words "sale juif" --dirty Jew - have been painted on some of the kosher ones and cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on some of the halal ones. A doctor known in his village as a Muslim but who is married to a Catholic woman even found a pig’s ear on their front lawn. He told a television network that their little daughter cries at night because she is scared that terrorists will come to kill them.

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