A rally in Paris in support of victims of the Charlie Hebdos shooting in 2015 (Valentina Calà/Flickr)

The French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo reprinted the provocative cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that were cited as the reason for a deadly attack on its headquarters in 2015. The move coincides with a trial today, September 2, of 14 alleged accomplices in the terrorist attack.

On January 7 of 2015, two masked gunmen stormed Hebdo’s offices in Paris and killed 11 of its workers, including the magazine’s editor in chief and some of its leading cartoonists. About 11 additional people were injured.

The two attackers, French-born brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, identified themselves as Al-Qaeda members. Two days after the attack, Amedy Coulibaly, who was connected to the Kouachi brothers, took hostages and killed four people at a kosher supermarket in the city. Police killed the three gunmen.

The shootings drew international outrage; worldwide, protesters at rallies embraced the slogan #JeSuisCharlie (“I Am Charlie”) to express solidarity with the victims. However, many criticized the cartoons as excessively offensive.

Most of the caricatures republished this week were first printed in 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten, triggering wide protests by members of the Muslim community. Hebdo republished them later that year, including one that shows the Muslim prophet carrying a bomb in his turban. In 2011, the paper’s offices were attacked with a petrol bomb, and its editorial staff was permanently placed under police protection.

In a special edition this week, Hebdo’s director Laurent Sourisseau named all of the victims of the 2015 attack.

“Rare are those who, five years later, dare oppose the demands that are still so pressing from religions in general, and some in particular,” Sourisseau wrote.

The 14 defendants who stand to trial today, some in absentia, are charged with aiding the three attackers, including providing them with weapons and financing.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, sent a conciliatory message on Tuesday in an attempt to prevent another outbreak of violence.

“The freedom to caricature is guaranteed for everyone,’’ Moussaoui told the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “Nothing can justify violence.’’

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

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