AS FRENCH police shot dead the men suspected of killing 12 people during the savage Charlie Hebdo terror attack, Woking’s Muslim community added their voice to worldwide condemnation of the tragedy on Wednesday last week.
The siege on free speech – which has been associated with radical Islam and was sparked by the satirical publication printing a cartoon depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad – sent shockwaves across France and the rest of the world.
The deplorable travesty, which claimed the lives of the magazine’s editor and senior cartoonists as well as two police officers – one of whom has been identified as Ahmed Merabet, himself a Muslim – reached a conclusion on Friday when police killed the gunmen, now named as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.
Speaking on behalf of his family, Ahmed’s brother Malek said: “My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists – false Muslims.
“Islam is a religion of peace and love. As far as my brother’s death is concerned it was a waste. He was proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the police and of defending the values of the Republic – liberty, equality, fraternity.”
Following a stand-off with police, the terrorist brothers ran straight into the gunfire of soldiers and officers. Just 12 minutes later police brought a dramatic end to a hostage situation at a Jewish grocery store that stemmed from the authorities’ pursuit of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.
Commandos rushed the store and killed an Al Qaeda-linked suspect named Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who was holding 15 hostages at gunpoint. He had previously been reported to be demanding the safe release of the Kouachi brothers.
Four hostages were reportedly killed in cold blood by Coulibaly, who on Thursday also murdered a police officer.
Woking Ahmadiyya Muslim Community President, Hameed Ahmad, was just one of many to offer his condolences to those who have suffered during the terrible saga.
He said: “We condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo and are deeply shocked by this atrocity, which has taken 12 lives and injured many more. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and all those left bereaved.
“It is a great source of regret that such violent acts and terrorist activities continue to be associated with Islam – despite the fact they have nothing to do with Islam’s true teachings.”
The day after the Charlie Hebdo attack, members of Surrey Police gathered in Woking’s Jubilee Square to respect a two-minute silence in memory of the victims. Constables and detectives based in Staines, Guildford, Epsom & Ewell, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede and Mole Valley joined their colleagues in the silence, which was observed across Surrey at 10.30am on Thursday.
The world’s press salute Charlie Hebdo
NEWS publications across the globe were united in their fight for free speech last week.
In tribute to those who died in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris – and to simultaneously condemn the actions of the terror suspects – publications filled their front pages with the same cartoons that sparked the tragic scenes in France.
Some, such as Belgian newspaper De Tijd, instead opted to publish an empty front page, depicting a world without free speech.
The title carried only a barcode, edition date and number, and the legend ‘Je suis Charlie’ – the banner behind which a backlash to the barbaric attacks has mounted.
But the tributes were not without further incident. On Sunday it was reported that the offices of a German newspaper, the Hamburger Morgenpost, were subjected to an arson attack.
A spokesman for Surrey police said an incendiary device was thrown in the night and documents inside the building were lost to the fire that resulted. Fortunately, no staff were present at the time.
Two suspects seen behaving in an unusual manner were arrested near the scene. German police said the state security services are investigating whether the attack was connected to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons siege.
TRAGEDY – the attacks sparked outrage