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Brookings Now

What Brookings Experts Are Saying about the Charlie Hebdo Attack in Paris

Fred Dews

On Wednesday, armed gunmen attacked the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo—a satirical newspaper that often lampooned Islamic terrorists—killing 12 people, including ten journalists and cartoonists with the paper, and two police officers. French President François Hollande has called it a terrorist attack.

Nonresident Fellow H.A. Hellyer writes that “Whether the magazine was offensive in its satire is irrelevant; the dastardly nature of these murders is established beyond doubt.” In this piece, he writes that:

The world faces a radical, extremist ideology that has a number of aims. The killing and murdering of innocent people in France is a facet of that. The killing of others within the Muslim world is another; the creation of a cultural war between Muslims and non-Muslims is yet another; and the deterioration of civil liberties within France and elsewhere is another still. The international community at large must recognise all of those facets and be clear: we won’t play the terrorists in a game where they make the rules. What they did in Paris, as they do in Yemen and elsewhere, is criminal – and the full force of the law must be brought to bear upon them. We must not sacrifice one iota of the ethics that underpin our societies. That is what they are really trying to get us to do. We must not let them succeed.

Nonresident Senior Fellow Jonathan Laurence reflects on the effect the attack will have on France’s far-right nationalist party, the National Front, led by Marine Le Pen. “[I]n the wake of this week’s attack,” he writes, “there is no obvious limit to how high the National Front could rise.”

Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at Brookings, puts the attack into the context of the wider ideological war in the global jihadist movement between the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Philippe Le Corre (@PhLeCorre), a visiting fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, calls the deadly attack “a case for national unity in France” and explains why Charlie Hebdo is “part of the French tradition of political cartoons.”


Brookings experts have been offering their thoughts on Twitter as the events and investigation unfold. Follow @hahellyer, @Charles_Lister,@tcwittes, @will_mccants, @ShibleyTelhami, @shadihamid, and @Salman_Shaikh1 for more.

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