Attack outside former Charlie Hebdo office: “This endless threat to free speech is an abomination”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by today’s knife attack outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Rue Nicolas Appert in Paris, in which two employees of production companies Premières Lignes and Bocode were injured.

Update from September 30: The national antiterrorist prosecutor in charge of the case confirmed on Tuesday 29 September that it was indeed a terrorist attack targeting Charlie Hebdo. The alleged perpetrator of the attack Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud was unaware that the satirical weekly's office moved and his plan was, according to the prosecutor"to enter the premises of the newspaper (...) with a hammer, or to set them on fire with white spirit". When he arrived to Rue Nicolas-Appert and saw the victims, he thought they worked for Charlie Hebdo and decided to attack them.

The attack came after Charlie Hebdo was the target of new threats following its decision to republish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark the start of the trial on 2 September of those accused of complicity in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shootings.

“It is really tragic to again see images of an attack on Rue Nicolas Appert five years after the one on Charlie,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said. “This violence is a danger to us all, in France and elsewhere. And this threat that constantly weighs on the freedom of expression throughout the world is an abomination.”

When calls for violence and condemnation by senior religious officials spread after the republishing of the Mohammed cartoons on the eve of the start of the Charlie Hebdo trial, RSF deplored the lack of an adequate response to these new threats and appealed to all the world leaders who took part in the historic march in Paris on 11 January 2015 to respect and promote respect of the law, which protects freedom of expression.

Around 100 media outlets published an open letter on 23 September calling for action in support of freedom of expression and Charlie Hebdo. A few days before that, Charlie Hebdo human resources director Marika Bret had to be moved from her home because of threats regarded as serious.

France is ranked 34th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 30.09.2020