Charlie Hebdo attack: World press united in defiance

Photo taken in Rennes on January 8, 2015 shows the front pages of French newspapers after the attack by gunmen on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption French front pages on Thursday

Newspapers around the world have united in defiance against the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In Arab countries, some papers wonder whether the West has done enough to counter the spread of such terror attacks.

Some papers in Muslim countries fear an anti-Islam backlash in Europe.

'Real war'

The French press is united in abhorrence and defiance.

Alexis Brezet writes in the conservative Figaro of a "real war waged not by soldiers but by dark assassins... whose calm savagery chills the blood". He calls on readers not to deceive themselves that this is an attack on France alone, but rather the targeting of "our civilisation, in which women are equal to men, freedom of thought is non-negotiable, and freedom of expression is an absolute imperative".

The left-wing Liberation says the answer is to make the attackers face trial according to the law of the land. "All republicans... will identify the adversary as terrorism not Islam" and see their Muslim compatriots as "the first victims of fundamentalism, who are with us in this ordeal".

The editor of Le Parisien writes that "our only weapon against savagery is to repeat together and clearly that we will never let anyone assassinate our freedom and our values".

'Danger within'

German newspapers express solidarity with France. The headline of the conservative Die Welt says the reaction to the attack will "decide the future", and calls for a united defence of "freedom in the face of the assault by gangs of idiots".

The Berlin tabloid B.Z. reproduces Charlie Hebdo covers on its front page, with the headline "Long live Freedom!" in French. The paper says "we don't all find everything they drew or wrote funny... but defending the freedom to say, draw and write what you think is our most important task".

The liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung wonders whether Germany might face an attack on a similar scale from "the danger within", quoting security officials to the effect that "it is only a matter of time". The paper concludes: "This warning applies to the whole of Europe."

'Firm response'

Elsewhere in Europe, the theme that Western civilisation itself is under attack also comes through.

Image copyright El Pais
Image caption Spanish newspaper El Pais condemned the attacks on its front page

In Spain, conservative El Pais condemns the "loathsome murder of our colleagues" as an "assault on the fundamental rights of our democratic European societies".

Liberal El Mundo says "we are facing a well-organised movement with very clear objectives: to destroy the democratic values that embody the West... the attack on our principles deserves a firm response".

Italy's Corriere della Sera also calls it an "attack on freedom - everyone's freedom".

In Russia, liberal Novaya Gazeta republishes Charlie Hebdo's last cover and urges French-speaking readers to subscribe to the magazine as a practical sign of solidarity.

Other Russian commentators criticize the French response. Maxim Yusin in the Kommersant business daily sees the attack as a "watershed" in France, comparable with the 9/11 attacks on the United States, and accuses the authorities of being "helpless in the face of those who organised a massacre in the centre of the capital... and escaped unpunished".

Igor Maltsev in pro-government Izvestia says France has allowed a "situation where grenades and bullets are the reply to satire... where people are killed for a picture."

Image copyright Sabah
Image caption Turkish newspaper Sabah featured the attack (top right), describing it as "Massacre at the magazine"

Turkish newspapers in general join in the condemnation of what many dub the "9/11 of the press". The leading centre-right daily Hurriyet is representative in speaking of a "world in shock", while pro-government Sabah's front-page cartoon shows a caricaturist writing in his own blood "It was a joke".

The pro-Islamist Yeni Akit, on the other hand, refuses to condemn the attack unambiguously, saying it was a predictable response to anti-Muslim "insults". Columnist Ali Karahasanoglu also speculates that the West will now "increase pressure on Muslims as it did after 9/11".

'Threat to whole world'

Arab newspapers widely report their governments' condemnation of the attack, but often see it as a global rather than a European threat. Several commentaries accuse the West of having nurtured terrorism in the first place.

In Lebanon, the liberal daily Al-Nahar sees a "fresh attack on freedom of expression", but expresses confidence that "the written word remains a time bomb that will explode in the face of terror and terrorists".

In a "gesture of solidarity" in the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, exiled Syrian artist Youssef Abdelke prints an image of two cartoonists, one blond and the other darker, both run through with a spear, under the bloodied banner "Equality".

Bahrain's Al-Watan condemns the use of violence to express differences as "clear and abhorrent terrorism... regardless of geography".

Egyptian papers also emphasize the global dimension of terror. Al-Yawm al-Sabi says "terrorists in France and Europe have managed to overcome security and intelligence barriers... to brainwash young people raised in democratic societies", and sees the threat as an "international menace that requires massive confrontation, for no-one is safe".

Image copyright Echourouk
Image caption Algerian paper Echourouk declares, 'Massacre... and terror amidst French Muslims'

Al-Watan is explicit in accusing France of having "contributed to the growth and spread of terrorism" that "could strike at any other country and is hitting Arab countries every day".

Abdulrahman al-Rashed accuses "extremists from our Muslim community" over the attack, in the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat London daily. He says they are the same extremists who "cause havoc in our region... and have made it a threat to the whole world", drawing parallels with Islamic State atrocities in Iraq and Syria.

The London Arab nationalist paper Al-Quds al-Arabi condemns the attack unequivocally, but fears the possible "persecution of innocent Muslims" during security measures, not to mention an "expected wave of racist attacks on mosques and Islamic centres".

Algeria's Echourouk is also apprehensive of a backlash, noting "horror among the Muslims of France" over the attack.


Iranian editorials see the attack as part of a wider agenda, and some air the conspiracy theories common to the country's media.

Conservative Hemayat wonders how the attackers left the scene "so easily", and sees this as "important evidence" of co-operation between the extremist group Islamic State and Israel in pursuit of "that regime's goals throughout the world".

Pro-reform Sharq asks "how the terrorists could reach the centre of Paris with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons in their hands", and advises the West to avert similar incidents by "reviewing its policies towards the Islamic world and the Middle East".

Hardline Javan raises the spectre of "Islamophobia" in the wake of the "terrorist attack", saying the incident "will help strengthen right-wing extremism ahead of the 2017 elections and heat up the debate against Muslim immigration to Europe". The official daily Iran also highlights the increase in "Islamophobia" in neighbouring Germany.

Newspapers in Pakistan reflect the general international horror at the attacks. Urdu-language papers differ from the English-language press in noting the "blasphemous" nature of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in their headlines.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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