It’s not easy to people outside France about the role in contemporary French society of a press organism such as Charlie Hebdo, and the immense sadness and fury of countless citizens when they see that a team of celebrated cartoonists has been decimated by dumb cunts armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, followed by the slaughter of innocent Jewish shoppers in Paris buying Shabbat supplies. Judging from world reactions to these tragedies, I gather though that countless observers in other nations realize fully what a shock this has been inside France. Some strongly symbolic images have reached us from abroard. In particular, there was Barack Obama visiting the French Embassy in Washington and finishing his written statement with Vive la France!
The slain cartoonists would have been greatly amused by this image of Times Square:
And this solemn tribute from the United Nations headquarters:
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was plunged into darkness as a sign of respect.
Among the 17 innocent victims, there were two in particular, Charb and Cabu, who had become the celebrated champions of satirical cartooning in France. We looked upon them as talented and lovable individuals, and it was unbearable to learn that they had died in such a stupid and brutal fashion.
Charb’s illustrations of Mahomet had maddened the Islamic killers, who were far too coarse and brutish to understand, let alone appreciate, our everyday concepts of satire.
The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo never ceased to make fun of pompous adepts of the three so-called monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The cartoonists considered—and it was their right to have and express such opinions—that the pages of the so-called holy books would make good toilet paper.
But I was always immensely impressed (as a keen student of the history of Judaism and Christianity) by the perspicacity of Charb’s awareness of the fine points of the subjects that he satirized, particularly in his albums on Mahomet (created with the assistance of a lovely lady named Zineb El Rhazoui).
A few months ago, I had contemplated contacting Charlie Hebdo to see if I might be able to collaborate upon the translation of the Charb/Zineb albums into English. Today, I believe more than ever that English editions of these albums should be published.
Today, throughout France, the proportions and intensity of public reactions to the horrible events of the last three days have been overwhelming. Never before has there been anything like it in France. And tomorrow, in Paris, the spectacle is likely to be utterly gigantic… with the presence of many foreign heads of state.