1. The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
  2. Systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal.

At 11:00am (CET) on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 staff at the offices of the popular satirical French Satirical Magazine, Charlie Hedbo, acclaimed for publishing images of the Islamic Prophet, Muhammad –which is strictly forbidden in the practice of Islam, were labouring hard to meet the publication deadlines for their next issue.

Around 11:30am (CET), two men entered the Charlie Hedbo office armed with automatic weapons and opened fire on the staff.

This unanticipated assault – the deadliest of its kind mounted in France since 1961 – claimed the lives of 12 innocent people and raised the ire of the world.

Charlie Hedbo does not discriminate. Rather, the self-described satirical publication pokes fun at religious leaders of all persuasions, as well as politicians.

Those slaughtered in the massacre included Editor-in-Chief, Stephane Charbonnier; co-founder and cartoonist Jean Cabut; Deputy chief editor, Bernaud Maris; cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac and Philippe Honore; columnist, Elsa Cayat; proof-reader, Mustapha Ourrad; Michale Renaud, who had been invited to attend the weekly editorial conference; maintenance worker, Frederic Boisseau; police officer assigned to protect Charbonnier, Franck Brinsolaro; and Muslim police officer shot by the gunmen when fleeing the scene, Ahmed Merabet.

In the wake of this bloody massacre, journalist voiced their concerns in voluminous columns regarding the influence of this attack on freedom of speech and self-censorship over religious satire, particularly that of Islam, while cartoonists released images in memoriam of their fallen colleagues and vehement opposition to terrorism.

Citizens also took to the streets brandishing signs emblazoned with “Je Suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie”, further demonstrating their support for freedom of the press and collective opposition to terrorism.

Following the attacks, the ABC reported on the alleged offence caused by Charlie Hedbo to the Muslim faith, quoting Parisian Imam, Hassan Chalghoumi stating “We don’t agree with Charlie Hedbo. [Fight a] drawing with a drawing, but not with blood, not with hate.”

There is no doubt this callous terrorist attack was used to intimidate, offend and to generate

fear, but who and what did the two attackers genuinely represent?

In their wake, they have claimed the lives of 12 innocent people and left an indelible mark on the lives of their families and friends and people worldwide.

We, at VIVA! Communications send our deepest condolences to those directly affected or traumatised by the Charlie Hedbo massacre and as professional communicators, stand by our ongoing democratic right to freedom of speech.

Vive le Charlie Hedbo.