Seattle journalists, politicians respond to deadly attack on French cartoonists

The Society of Professional Journalists assembled a graphic showing its support of a satirical newspaper in Paris where 12 people were gunned down. (Graphic courtesy Society of Professional Journalists.)
The Society of Professional Journalists assembled a graphic showing its support of a satirical newspaper in Paris where 12 people were gunned down. (Graphic by Tony Peterson, courtesy Society of Professional Journalists.)

The Seattle area reacted this week to the deadly attack in Paris on the offices of satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” on Wednesday, with vigils and statements expressing sadness over what many saw as an attack on freedom of expression.

Two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, accused in the deadly attack were killed Friday after three-day manhunt that ended with two simultaneous hostage situations outside Paris, according to BBC News.

Wednesday’s shooting killed 12 people, including several cartoonists and the magazine’s editor Stephane Charbonnier, and Ahmed Merabet, a police officer protecting the magazine who also was Muslim, according to reports. Eleven others were injured. According to an NPR report, witnesses say the gunmen shouted “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”

The newspaper had been targeted before. Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed in 2011 after satirical depictions of Muhammad. Depicting the Prophet Muhammad is considered offensive by many Muslims.

People all over the world showed their support of the slain journalists, including several in Seattle.

On Wednesday night, a vigil was held outside of the French embassy on the Seattle waterfront.

Several locals reacted to the news with sadness on Twitter:

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray also issued a statement via Twitter:

Gov. Jay Inslee also spoke with reporters at a press conference on Thursday about the events in France.

“Freedom of speech does not exist in real terms without a free press,” he said. The attack “brings home not only the importance of protecting that freedom of speech, and that your profession is fundamental to democracy.”

Nationally and internationally, the Grand Mosque of Paris and other Muslim organizations spoke out against Wednesday’s attacks, according to The Huffington Post.

Muslim American advocacy organization CAIR condemned the attacks, and the Sacramento chapter held a vigil and the Los Angeles chapter announcing an education event.

The attack on the satirical newspaper also drew statements from Seattle journalists.

The Society of Professional Journalists national president Dana Neuts, who lives in the Seattle area, issued a statement on behalf of the organization, calling the acts “barbaric.”

“Extremists feel emboldened to attack and kill journalists anywhere in the world for lampooning religion or reporting on political and governmental activities. Such outrageous attempts to silence journalists will not be tolerated or successful,” her statement read.

The organization also released a graphic, showing the logos of journalism organizations also supporting freedom of the press, including the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Poynter Institute, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and others, along with several Seattle-area magazines, including 425 Magazine and South Sound Magazine.

The Stranger posted a banner declaring “Je Suis Charlie” on its website on Wednesday.

Kitsap Sun and Skagit Valley Herald editorial cartoonist Milt Priggee spoke to KING 5 News about his anger over the attack, and Seattle Times illustrator Gabriel Campanario also weighed in with his own cartoon.

Seattle cartoonist Matthew Inman, who pens The Oatmeal web comic strip, reposted one of this cartoons on Facebook that questions religious extremists of a variety of branches, asking in one panel, “Are you so dangerously extremist that even a silly web cartoonist can’t draw your prophet without fearing for his life?”

Inman’s question recalls the situation of Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris, who went into hiding in 2010 after threats to her life. Norris, who worked for the Seattle Weekly and City Arts magazine, accidentally launched “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” with a cartoon that went viral describing a fictional event. The cartoon was a reaction to the censorship of a “South Park” episode. Norris changed her name and moved away from Seattle after a Muslim cleric ordered her death.

Tags: .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.