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January 15, 2015

“Je suis Charlie” a sign of support for free speech

“Je suis Charlie” a sign of support for free speech

Illustration by Maxx Steinmetz

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring controversial cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes, was attacked by terrorists Jan. 7, 2015, presumably in response to a number of controversial cartoons it published of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. In total 12 people were killed in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo.

After the attacks, the phrase “Je suis Charlie,” (French for “I am Charlie,”) was adopted by supporters of free speech, press and freedom of expression who were reacting to the shootings. The phrase identifies a supporter with those who were killed at the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and by extension, a supporter of freedom of speech and resistance to armed threats. Many journalists have embraced the expression as a rallying cry.

The newest edition, published Jan. 13 as scheduled, depicts the Prophet Muhammad looking sad and holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign. The cover headline reads “Tout est pardonne,’’ which translates as “All is forgiven.”

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