Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2015 Contents The French satirical magazine Charlie
Hebdo has been attacked by gunmen,
who have killed 12 people at its Paris
offices. It is the worst attack on a
magazine which has been hit by violence
In 2006 many Muslims were angered by
Charlie Hebdo s reprinting of cartoons of the
Prophet Muhammad. They had originally
appeared in a Danish daily, Jyllands-Posten.
The magazine s offices were fire-bombed
in November 2011 when it published a cartoon
of Muhammad under the title "Charia Hebdo."
One of the latest tweets on Charlie Hebdo s
feed was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant
group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, had been
under police protection, having received death
threats. He and three other cartoonists were
among those killed by the gunmen in the mas-
The BBC s Hugh Schofield in Paris says
Charlie Hebdo is part of a venerable tradition
in French journalism going back to the scandal
sheets that denounced Marie-Antoinette in
the run-up to the French Revolution.
The tradition combines left-wing radicalism
with a provocative scurrility that often borders
on the obscene, he says.
Back in the 18th Century, the target was
the royal family, and the rumour-mongers
wrought havoc with tales---often illustrated---
of sexual antics and corruption at the court
Nowadays there are new dragons to slay:
politicians, the police, bankers and religion.
Satire, rather than outright fabrication, is the
weapon of choice.
But that same spirit of insolence that once
took on the ancien regime---part ribaldry, part
political self-promotion---is still very much
on the scene.
Charlie Hebdo is a prime exponent. Its deci-
sion to mock the Prophet Muhammad is
entirely consistent with its historic raison
d etre, our correspondent says.
The paper has never sold in enormous num-
bers---and for ten years from 1981, it ceased
publication for lack of resources.
But with its garish front-page cartoons and
incendiary headlines, it is an unmissable staple
of newspaper kiosks and railway station book-
Drawing on France s strong tradition of ban-
des dessinees (comic strips), cartoons and car-
icatures are Charlie Hebdo s defining feature.
Over the years, it has printed examples which
make its representations of Muhammad look
like mild illustrations from a children s book.
Police would be shown holding the dripping
heads of immigrants; there would be mastur-
bating nuns; popes wearing condoms---any-
thing to make a point.
As a newspaper, Charlie Hebdo suffers from
constant comparison with its better-known
and more successful rival, Le Canard Enchaine.
Both are animated by the same urge to chal-
lenge the powers-that-be.
But if Le Canard is all about scoops and
unreported secrets, Charlie is both cruder and
crueller---deploying a mix of cartoons and an
often vicious polemical wit.
True to its position on the far left of French
politics, Charlie Hebdo s past is full of splits
and ideological betrayals.
One long-standing editor resigned after a
row about anti-Semitism.
Most of the staff---cartoonists and writers
alike---go by single-name noms de plume.
Before yesterday s attack the team was led
by Charbonnier---known as Charb---and anoth-
er cartoonist called Riss. But everyone knows
their real names.
The paper s origins lie in another satirical
publication called Hara-Kiri which made a
name for itself in the 1960s.
In 1970 came the famous moment of Char-
lie s creation. Two dramatic events were dom-
inating the news: a terrible fire at a discotheque
which killed more than 100 people and the
death of former President Gen Charles de
Hara-Kiri led its edition with a headline
mocking the General s death: "Bal tragique a
Colombey---un mort", meaning "Tragic dance
at Colombey (de Gaulle s home)---one dead."
The subsequent scandal led to Hara-Kiri
being banned. To which its journalists promptly
responded by setting up a new weekly---Charlie
The Charlie was not an irreverent reference
to Charles de Gaulle, but to the fact that orig-
inally it also re-printed the Charlie Brown
cartoon from the United States.
and its place in French journalism
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Colleagues and friends of
Whitney Houston gathered
Tuesday night to screen
Whitney, a new telefilm
about the beloved enter-
tainer s triumphant career,
often troubled life and tragic
But Houston s family was
conspicuously absent from
the premiere, which took
place at the Paley Center for
Media, located just blocks
away from The Beverly
Hilton hotel, where 48-
year-old Houston drowned
in her guest room in Febru-
The official coroner s re-
port listed heart disease and
cocaine as contributing fac-
tors in her death. Angela
Bassett, the Oscar-nomi-
nated actress marked her
with the biopic.
The production was not
allowed to use Houston s
original recordings. So, to
deliver something approxi-
mating Houston s remark-
able voice, Bassett hired
singer Deborah Cox, Hous-
ton s one-time label mate,
recording partner and long-
The biopic debuts January
17 on the Lifetime cable net-
Continues on Page A34
Family absent from premiere of Whitney biopic
Dutch political cartoonist Ruben L
Oppenheimer's cartoon recalled
imagery of the Twin Towers.
Charb had strongly defended
Charlie Hebdo's cartoons featuring
the Prophet Muhammad.
"Muhammad isn't sacred to me,''
he told the Associated Press in
2012, after the magazine's offices
had been fire-bombed.
A cartoon from Le Plus, "#CharlieHebdo C'est
la liberté qu'on assassine"---"Murderous
attack at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo."
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