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#CharlieHebdo attack: Twitter extends support to freedom of speech

social media Updated: Jan 08, 2015 17:09 IST
Tania Goklany
Tania Goklany
Hindustan Times
charlie hebdo

Promises to fight terror, questions about Islam and the limits of freedom of expression filled up Twitter after gunmen shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting "we have avenged the Prophet Mohammad" when they attacked the newspaper, which has a history of poking fun at popes, presidents as well as the Prophet Mohammad. It was France's deadliest terror attack in at least two decades.

Within hours of the news, tweets tagged #CharlieHebdo and #JeSuisCharlie, which means I am Charlie in English, were trending on Twitter in a sign of solidarity for victims.

"Strange world. People with guns are targeting people with pens and children with books. Is this what terrorists fear?", @jhunjhunwala tweeted.

The magazine's offices were firebombed in November 2011 after it published a spoof issue that "invited" Mohammad to be its guest editor and put his caricature on the cover. "Mohammad isn't sacred to me," the magazine's cartoonist, who goes by the name Luz, told The Associated Press in 2012.

Did the magazine cross the line? Twitter saw people raising questions about how much satire is perhaps tolerable:

While on the other hand, the much stronger dialogue on Twitter was in defence of the right to freedom. The pen must remain mightier than the sword:

A person who tweets as @HillelNeuer gave words to what he perceived were the thoughts of the attackers: "If journalists dare to suggest there's an issue of violence in the name of Islam we will murder them in the name of Allah."

Another user @mojorojo tweeted that "Islam, you need to teach some people in your house how to have a conversation".

With Islam being criticised for the terror attack, the actions of a few people cannot be equated with the ideology of the entire community. @LibyaLiberty refused to apologise for being a Muslim and demanded justice for the victims:

@iyad_elbaghdadi tweeted that killing in the name of religion is unacceptable:

The rise of Islamic hardliners, especially in West Asia, has sent a wrong message about the religion: