Charlie Hebdo is written near flowers and candles left at the Place de la Republique at midday in solidarity with victims of yesterday's terrorist attack on January 8, 2015 in Paris, France. Photo: Getty Images
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Charlie Hebdo: what we know so far

Police in France are still tracking the three men responsible for killing 12 people yesterday at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Mass vigils are held around the world.

Police are still attempting to track down the three suspects believed to be responsible for yesterday's attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Meanwhile, people and organisations around the world have condemned the murder of 12 people, with many cities seeing spontaneous vigils where pens were held aloft in celebration of the right to satire and free speech.

French police have released the names of the 12 victims from the attack. They are:

  • Frédéric Boisseau, maintenance worker
  • Franck Brinsolaro, police officer
  • Jean "Cabu" Cabut, cartoonist
  • Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, editor-in-chief
  • Elsa Cayat, psychoanalyst and columnist
  • Philippe Honoré, cartoonist
  • Bernard Maris, economist and shareholder in Charlie Hebdo magazine
  • Ahmed Merabet, policeman
  • Moustapha Ourad, proofreader
  • Michel Renaud, festival organiser
  • Georges Wolinski, cartoonist
  • Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, cartoonist

Clockwise, from top left: Jean "Cabu" Cabut, Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, Stéphane "Charb" Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski. Photo: Getty Images

The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo have said that they intend to print the magazine as normal next week, with an estimated print run of a million copies (compared to a usual run of around 60,000). The Guardian reports writer Patrick Pelloux saying that "stupidity will not win". Google has donated 250,000 to the magazine, while the staff have accepted an invitation from Libération magazine to use their office for work.

Three suspects have been named by French police: brothers Saïd Kouachi (32) and Chérif Kouachi (34), who are alleged to have carried out the attack, and 18-year-old Hamyd Moura, who was named as the driver of the getaway car. However, Moura reportedly handed himself into police immediately, with classmates claiming he was in school with them throughout the day of the shooting. At the time of writing, police are going door-to-door through the village of Corcy, northeast of Paris, believing the two brothers to be hiding somewhere in the area.

Reactions from around the world to the attacks have ranged from shocked to defiant. Many major cities, including London, Berlin, Moscow, Tunis and Rio de Janeiro, saw main squares and streets filled with candlelit vigils - and many people have stood while holding pens or pencils aloft, in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims:

A vigil in Lyons. Photo: Getty Images

The vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

Cartoonists from every corner of the planet have also responded to the events in Paris yesterday.

However, there have already been several reprisal attacks reported by AFP against mosques across France. Early this morning a street cleaner and a police officer were also both shot in southern Paris, with police treating it as related to yesterday's attack.

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The failed French presidential candidates who refuse to endorse Emmanuel Macron

While the candidates of the main left and right parties have endorsed the centrist from nowhere, others have held back. 

And breathe.

At 8pm on Sunday night France, Europe, and much of the West let out a huge sigh of relief. After over a month of uncertainty, scandals, rebounds, debates and late surges, the results of the first round of the French Presidential Election was as predicted: Emmanuel Macron (24 per cent) will face off against Marine Le Pen (21 per cent) in the second round of the election on the 7 May.

While polls have been predicting this face-off for a while, the shocks of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump had thrown polling predictions into doubt. But France has a good track record when it comes to polling, and their surveys are considered some of the most reliable in the world. The irony is that this uncertainty has meant that the polls have never been so central to a campaign, and the role of polling in democracies has been a hot topic of debate during the election.

The biggest surprise in many ways was that there were no surprises. If there was a surprise, it was a good one: participation was higher than expected: close to 80 per cent – on par with the Presidential Elections of 2012 – whereas there were concerns it would be as low as 70 per cent. Higher participation is normally a bad sign for the extremes, who have highly motivated voters but a limited base, and who often do better in elections when participation is low. Instead, it boosts the traditional parties, but here instead of the traditional right-wing Republican (Fillon is at 20 per cent) or Socialist parties (Hamon at 6 per cent), it was in fact the centre, with Emmanuel Macron, who benefited.

So France has so far not succumbed to the populist wave that has been engulfing the West. The contagion seemed to be spreading when the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi lost a referendum on reforming the constitution, but the fightback started in Austria which rejected the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in its Presidential election and voted for the pro-European, former-Green independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen. Those hopes now rest on the shoulders of Macron. After having dubbed Angela Merkel the leader of the free world during his farewell tour of Europe, Barack Obama gave his personal blessing to Macron last week.

Many wondered what impact Thursday night’s shooting on the Champs-Elysées would have. Would it be a boon for Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration platform? Or even right-wing François Fillon’s more traditional law and order approach? In the end the effect seems to have been minimal.

In the second round, Macron is currently predicted to beat Marine Le Pen by more than 60 per cent of the vote. But how does Le Pen almost double her vote in the second round, from around 20 per cent to close to 40 per cent? The "Republican Front" that saw her father off back in 2002, when he received only 18 per cent of the vote, has so far held at the level of the two traditional political parties. Both Hamon and Fillon have called to vote for Macron in the second round to stop the Front National - Hamon put it nicely when he said he could tell the difference between political opponents, and opponents of the Republic.

But not everyone is toing the line. Sens Commun, the anti-gay marriage group that has supported Fillon through thick and thin, said that it will not call to vote for either party – a thinly veiled invitation to vote for Le Pen. And Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a conservative, Catholic and anti-EU right wing candidate, whose 5 per cent is the reason Fillon didn’t make it to the second round, has also abstained from calling to vote for either. It is within this electorate that Le Pen will look to increase her vote.

The other candidate who didn’t call to vote for anyone was Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who fell back on a demagogic position of saying he would follow the wishes of his supporters after having consulted them. But as a spokesperson for the FN pointed out, there are remarkable congruities between their respective platforms, which can be categorised as a populism of the left and a populism of the right.

They in particular converge over the question of Europe. Aping Brexit, both want to go to Brussels to argue for reform, and if none is forthcoming put membership of the Eurozone to the electorate. While Le Pen’s anti-Europeanism is patent, Mélenchon’s position is both disingenuous and dangerous. His Plan A, as he puts it, is to attempt reform at the European level. But he knows fine well that his demands, which include revoking the independence of the European Central Bank and putting an end to austerity (the ECB, through its massive programme of quantitative easing, has already been trying to stimulate growth) will not be met. So he reverts to his Plan B, which is to leave the European Treatises and refound Europe on a new basis with like-minded members.

Who those members might be he hasn’t specified, nor has he explained how he would leave the EU - at least Le Pen had the decency to say she would put it to a referendum. Leaving the European Treatise has been in his programme from the beginning, and seems to be the real object of his desires. Nonetheless, having set himself up as the anti-Le Pen candidate, most of his supporters will vote for Macron. Others will abstain, and abstention will only help Le Pen. We’ve been here before, and the last thing we need now is complacency.

 

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