Why this artist will draw Muhammad every day for the next year

One artist is adding a digital pen to the millions who have declared #JeSuisCharlie (#IamCharlie) in the wake of the attacks last week in Paris, France.

Posting under the reddit handle IDrawMuhammad, the cartoonist plans to post one image of the Muslim prophet every day for the next year to a thread of the same name. The first drawing was a simple depiction of the Islamic prophet and thus far the drawings have all be fairly tame — especially when compared to Charlie Hebdo’s incendiary cartoons.

The American artist tells in an email interview he or she was inspired by the attacks in France last week that left 20 dead, including three terrorists, to starting drawing the prophet. The intent isn’t to offend Muslims — for whom depictions of their prophet can be quite offensive — but to make the point “art and speech should not be censored in anyway.”

The anonymous cartoonist (verified through the original reddit account) is keeping his or her identity close, but explained in an interview the gesture isn’t intended to be malicious but an expression of freedom of speech:

What was the moment when you decided you wanted to draw Muhammad every day for a year? Was there a tipping point in the coverage of what happened at Charlie Hebdo?

I just saw the international reaction to the attack through comics, blog and reddit posts which inspired me to start doodling a picture of Muhammad. It wasn’t until I was about to post it did I decide to do it every day for the rest of the year.

Do you make your living as an artist?

I incorporate graphic design in what I do to some extent but I am not a paid artist for anything. I have done some freelance work. It is mostly what I do in my spare time.

Where are you from?

I am from the United States.

Are you being censored by Reddit?

I have not been censored on Reddit nor have I seen any posts censored as of yet. They do place a NSFW tag on pictures of Muhammad out of respect for Muslims. I have not considered posting on any other boards but I do plan to create my own website as a means to post my drawings daily. I have already reserved the domain It should be up shortly. (Editor’s note: as of posting, the site was not yet live. The artist has since created IDrawMuhammad Twitter and Facebook accounts.)

Have you ever done an online art project like this before?

I have posted goofy images that I made before but none that were significant in any manner except to get a laugh out of people. I am not very political or religious and have never used art for anything outside of personal interests and as part of a hobby.

How do you respond to people who say because cartoons of Muhammad are offensive to Muslims, newspapers and other media shouldn’t print them?

From what I understand, it is offensive for practicing Muslims to depict Muhammad, since they could never be able to depict him accurately. I am not a practicing Muslim and I want to show I can exercise my freedom of expression without being censored by anyone’s beliefs. I respect any media outlet that wishes not to offend Muslims by refraining from showing images that depict him but they should be doing so out of respect and not out of fear.

Why do you think this is an important expression of freedom of speech?

Art and speech should not be censored in any way. Any individual, company or organization has the right to be offended but they do not have the right to try to censor anyone outside of their realm of control. It is my right to create and post whatever images I desire within my own capacity. It is Charlie Hebdo’s right as a satirical publication to publish whatever they wish. Muslims have every right to be offended or to speak out against the publication but for extremists to use violence and death to try to scare the world into abiding by their beliefs is something the world can not and will not stand for.

How do you respond to people who say what you’re doing, or what Charlie Hebdo does, is racist because it attacks a minority in French society (and all of Western society)?

It is not intended to be a prejudiced response against a group of people. It is to show we will not be scared into censoring anything that we wish to say. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical publication. Offending and pushing buttons is what they do. They do not have to answer to anyone or respect anyone’s beliefs. I am sure any religious or political person would be offended by some of their content no matter what they were affiliated with. You have to allow the rest of the world to say and believe what they want. You cannot censor them or retaliate with violence because you disagree with them.

The cartoons so far show Muhammad sort of as an average guy, in funny situations. Do you expect this to be the case for the whole year or will you pursue themes or respond to big news stories?

For now, I am just going to put Muhammad in boring situations as an average guy. I am not a writer or satirist but I may try to inject some humor into it at some point. I may also depict him in different ways using different art styles. I will not always be able to dedicate enough time every day to make it polished, but I will fulfill my promise in drawing him at the very least. Another user photoshopped his face onto Mario’s body, creating Mariomadd, which is pretty funny. My follow-up comic left the caption blank and let users post funny captions, so I may take that route and just let others add the humor for me.

Charlie Hebdo heroes were Muslims themselves: ‘Madness has neither colour nor religion’

AP photo

As Parisians gathered in solidarity against the deliberate terrorist targeting of cartoonists, editors and Jews, details started to emerge of acts of heroism amid the carnage.

Two of those heroes especially put the lie to the terrorist notion that last week’s attacks represented vengeance for insulted Muslims, because two of the most inspiring characters — the police officer who first confronted the Kouachi brothers at the Charlie Hebdo office, and the grocery clerk who sheltered Jewish shoppers at the grocery — were themselves Muslim.

That fact appears to have at least partly inspired some of the most unusual condemnation of the terror rampage, from leaders of terrorist groups.

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, for example, said that takfiri — Muslims who accuse others of apostasy — “have distorted Islam, the Koran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies… who insulted the Prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the Prophet.”

The comment fits with his recent denunciation of ISIS as a threat to Islam, but stands in contrast to his chilling remarks during the 2006 Danish cartoons controversy, which he said would not have happened if someone had carried out the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
Hamas, likewise, released a statement in French saying “Differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder.”

“Madness has neither colour nor religion,” said Malek Merabet, brother of Ahmed Merabet, the police officer, at a moving press conference after his funeral, in remarks he addressed to the “racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites.”

He denounced reprisal attacks on all sides as an insult to the memory of victims. “You are attacking people. It won’t bring back our dead, and it won’t appease our families,” he said.
“My brother was a Muslim, and he was killed by people who pretend to be Muslims,” Mr. Merabet said. “They are terrorists, that’s it.”

The death of Mr. Merabet inspired declarations of “Je suis Ahmed” to parallel the popular statement of defiance and grief, “Je suis Charlie.” He was killed like the staff of Charlie Hebdo, execution style at point-blank range, by one of the Kouachi brothers, although which one is not clear.

One of the attackers fired several times at him on the street outside the magazine offices, hitting him in the leg or groin, and causing him to fall. As one of the attackers approached, he said, “Did you want to kill us?” Mr. Merabet replied with his hand raised, as if for mercy, “No, it’s OK friend,” he said. He was shot in the head the next second.

In the panic that followed, as a manhunt spread across Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, carried out a rampage of his own, killing a policewoman before attacking a kosher supermarkert, Hyper Cacher, near the Porte de Vincennes in the east of Paris.

AP photoThis image made from a video posted online by militants on Sunday shows slain hostage-taker Amedy Coulibaly, who shot a policewoman and four hostages at a kosher grocery in Paris, with a gun in front of an Islamic State emblem as he defends the Paris attacks. At one point in the video, Coulibaly says Charlie Hebdo will be attacked “tomorrow” and that he and the (Said and Cherif Kouachi) brothers were coordinating.

As shoppers gathered their final supplied before sundown, he stormed in shooting, prompting a Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, 24, an immigrant from Mali, to hustle patrons downstairs to a walk-in freezer.

“I told them to calm down, not to make a sound, because if they heard us they could come and take us,” Mr. Bathily said. He then turned off the lights and fridges.

“I was heading for the check-out with the goods in my hand when I heard a bang — very loud. I thought it was a firecracker at first. But turning I saw a black man armed with two Kalashnikov rifles and I knew something bad was happening,” French media reported, quoting a hostage who gave his name as Mickael B.

“I grabbed my son by the collar and fled to the back of the store. There, with other customers, we ran down a spiral staircase into the basement. We all piled into one of two cold rooms — our door wouldn’t close. We were terrified.”

“You stay quiet there, I’m going back out,” Mr. Bathily said, according to the videotaped interview.

He then snuck out through a freight elevator and fire escape and approached police, who first thought he was the attacker and forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. After they realized their mistake, he gave them the key to the supermarket’s metal grill, which allowed police to make their final assault without forcing through it, freeing the surviving hostages.
Police thanked him. “C’est la vie,” Mr. Bathily said in the interview.


ScreengrabMany outlets called Lassana Bathily a hero for his actions

Another man, as yet unidentified, showed similar bravery that cost him his life.

Quoting Mickael B, French media reported Coulibaly set a gun on the counter as he made a sandwich, and a customer grabbed it, not knowing Coulibaly had left it there because it malfunctioned. The man tried to shoot Coulibaly, but the gun jammed again. Coulibaly “turned and shot at the customer, who died on the spot,” Mickael B said.

The dead at the supermarket were named as Yoav Hattab, 21, Yohan Cohen, 22, Philippe Braham, 40, and François-Michel Saada, 60.

Two of the rescued shoppers, Sarah Bitton and her one-year-old son, are close relatives of Albert Guigui, chief rabbi of Brussels, who said, “They were saved thanks to the Muslim employee of the supermarket. He pushed them towards the back of the shop and down to the cellar. It’s thanks to him that they were saved.”

Ottawa ‘closely monitoring’ as video repeats ISIS calls for Canada attacks

Security agencies were “closely monitoring” the situation after a video repeating calls by ISIS to kill Canadian civilians, police and members of the military was posted on the Internet, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said on Sunday.

The video showed footage of the attack on Parliament Hill as well as last week’s killings in Paris, and quoted from a statement issued last September by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al Adnani calling for terrorist attacks in the West.

While the 9-minute video was a compilation of earlier threats made by ISIS, and was not an official ISIS release, it specifically named Canada and, coming after the Paris attacks and the killings of Canadian Forces members, police were taking no chances.

“Given the recent terror attacks in France and in Canada, this new threat should be taken seriously,” the RCMP said in a message sent to members on Saturday after the video appeared on a Twitter account that has since been suspended.

“Because members of law enforcement are clearly mentioned by ISIS as priority targets, it is critical that you exercise a heightened level of caution and vigilance when carrying out your duties,” Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana wrote.

The video surfaced a day after the RCMP arrested twin brothers from Ottawa on multiple counts of terrorism — one of whom was stopped as he was allegedly about to board a flight to Frankfurt, raising flags he may have been heading for Syria.

Carlos Larmond, 24, was ticketed to transit through Germany to India but authorities suspected the second leg of his trip may have been a ruse. Frankfurt is a popular travel hub for Western extremists on their way to Syria and Iraq via Turkey.

Arrested Friday at Montreal’s Trudeau airport, he has been charged with two terrorism-related counts: participation in the activity of a terrorist group and attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.

His twin brother Ashton Carleton Larmond was arrested in Ottawa and has been charged with facilitating terrorist activity, participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group.

“Canada will not be intimidated and stands firm against terrorists who would threaten our peace, freedom and democracy,” Mr. Blaney said in response to the latest pro-ISIS video. “While I cannot comment on operational matters, we will not hesitate to take all appropriate actions to counter any terrorist threat to Canada, its citizens and its interests around the world.”

The last ISIS video threat to Canada was made by John Maguire, a radicalized Ottawa Muslim convert who allegedly knew the Larmond brothers. It said that Canadians would be indiscriminately targeted and that Muslims were obliged to either join ISIS or “follow the example” of the attackers who struck in Ottawa and Quebec.

“My clients intend to vigorously defend these allegations,” the Larmonds’ defence lawyer, Joseph Addelman, said Saturday outside the Ottawa courthouse where the brothers made their first appearances.

“This is going to be a case where we are going to determine how much value the Canadian system truly places on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and these matters will be determined in court.”

Asked by a reporter where Carlos Larmond had intended to travel when he was arrested, Mr. Addelman said the Crown had not yet disclosed those details. The RCMP declined to comment on Mr. Larmond’s suspected travel plans.

She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful

“We’re not revealing the cities or destinations where he was heading at this time,” said Sgt. Richard Rollings, an RCMP spokesman. The RCMP press release said only that he was arrested “as he was intending to travel overseas for terrorist purposes.”

Police have been struggling to track more than 100 Canadians whom they suspect have adopted violent extremist beliefs and may attempt to travel abroad to engage in terrorism. Syria and Iraq are currently the top destinations.

The threat is two-fold: that those who leave could return to conduct Paris-style attacks; and that those unable to leave could carry out simple but deadly acts of terrorism such as the October killings of Canadian Forces members.

Since the murders in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, Canadian counter-terrorism officials have ramped up their investigations, adding hundreds of officers to Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams across the country.

“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to prevent these individuals from leaving Canada to engage in terrorist activity overseas,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, officer in charge of federal policing operations, said in a statement.

The charges against the hockey player twins relate to alleged terrorist activities that occurred since last August. The five-month investigation was conducted by the RCMP, Ottawa Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police.

The Larmond twins were raised by their grandmother, Linda Brennan, in the Ottawa suburb of Vanier and attended Rideau High School. “She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful,” a neighbor told the Ottawa Citizen.

“You’d never see them apart,” said another neighbour. “If one’s walking down the street, the other’s not far behind.”

Nearly five years ago, the woman said she heard one of the brothers had a Muslim girlfriend and was looking to convert. “Whatever one does, the other does, too,” she said.

A former hockey teammate, who asked to be identified only as Doug, said Ashton Larmond had played on his team in the Minto Adult Hockey League. He recalled that while they waited for the Zamboni to finish clearing the ice in late 2013, a police officer had walked past, prompting Ashton to tell Doug that he was a newly converted Muslim and he was being watched by the RCMP.

“They’re all watching me because I’m a new Muslim and they think I’m doing stuff when I’m not doing stuff,” Doug recalled Ashton telling him. “He said to me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the RCMP was stupid,” Doug said.

The team soon grew to have difficulties with the young man. “He had a lot of anger on the ice. He would smash his stick on the board if he didn’t get passed [the puck] when he wanted it. He was very vocal about things so we had some inner team fighting around him,” Doug said. “He seemed like a pretty nice guy, to be honest.”

But as the season progressed, seemingly insignificant squabbles began to surface. One erupted into a larger dispute where Ashton claimed the team captain owed him $20. The team chose to kick him off the team.

The Larmonds were scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 12.

National Post, with files from the Ottawa Citizen

Hamburger Morgenpost, a German newspaper that reprinted Charlie Hebdo cartoons, firebombed in overnight attack

German police arrested two suspects in connection with an arson attack on a Hamburg newspaper that reprinted cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad from the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo.

The assailants threw stones and an incendiary device into a basement window of the Hamburger Morgenpost’s building, the city’s police department said in a statement. The newspaper said on its website the arson attack destroyed several files in its archive.

No one was hurt in the attack, which the tabloid said took place after 2 a.m. Sunday. The two suspects are male, aged 35 and 39. The police are continuing to investigate the incident.

News organizations across Europe published the controversial Muhammad cartoons on their front pages following the deadly attack last Wednesday on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Three connected terror attacks in the city, including at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery, claimed 17 victims.

With files from the Associated Press

Netanyahu offers sanctuary in Israel to French Jews shaken by Paris terror attacks

THOMAS SAMSON / AFP / Getty Images

French Jews who feel endangered by terrorism can find sanctuary in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he flew to Paris for ceremonies mourning victims of last week’s attacks by suspected Islamist gunmen.

Netanyahu urged global action to combat “radical Islam” before meeting with French President Francois Hollande and other world leaders who had also traveled to Paris to attend a rally Sunday commemorating the 17 French citizens killed, including four Jews taken hostage at a kosher supermarket.

“Any Jew who wants to come to Israel will be received with open arms,” Netanyahu told reporters aboard his flight. France has the largest Jewish community in Europe, estimated by Israeli officials at 600,000.

French Jews have been moving to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other Israeli cities amid growing fears they are no longer safe at home. The numbers jumped from about 1,800 in 2012, the year a Muslim militant killed seven children and teachers at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse, to nearly 7,000 last year, according to Israeli government figures.

Natan Sharansky, head of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency that encourages immigration to Israel, accompanied Netanyahu to Paris and projected that as many as 20,000 French Jews would move to Israel this year, double the forecast before last week’s rampage.

The Israeli prime minister, who faces re-election March 17, has made the dangers of radical Islamic movements a main theme of his Likud party’s campaign. He has also been one of the most outspoken critics of world powers’ nuclear talks with Iran, arguing they let the Islamic Republic buy time to develop atomic weapons, an aspiration it denies.

Netanyahu reversed an earlier decision to skip the Paris ceremonies on security grounds after political rivals announced they would attend. He is due to meet with French Jewish leaders after today’s demonstration.

THOMAS SAMSON / AFP / Getty ImagesMembers of the French police forces launch the assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, on Friday.

Three days of deadly violence in the Paris area began Jan. 7 when gunmen killed 12 people in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that has offended Muslims repeatedly by publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and was firebombed in 2011. A policewoman was shot dead the following day in a suburb of the capital, and French authorities say the assailant was the same man who took hostages a day after at the Hyper Cacher grocery in Paris, killing four Jews.

The victims of the supermarket attack will be buried in Israel, tentatively on Tuesday, at their families’ request, Netanyahu’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

Other Israeli politicians who traveled to France for Sunday’ss events were Netanyahu rivals Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of the Yisrael Beytenu party and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of Jewish Home.

“We are seeing images we hoped we wouldn’t see again, of Jewish businesses being shuttered, of synagogues abandoned, of Jews scrambling to leave France,” Bennett said in a release after visiting the kosher market that was attacked.

“This isn’t an isolated incident,” he said. “This is Islamic global terrorism and the free world must eradicate it.”

‘A man was dying in a pool of his own blood’: Heroes and tragedy as details emerge from Kosher supermarket attack


He was the hostage who tried to be a hero. As terror reigned inside the Hyper Cacher supermarket, one captive displayed astonishing courage by trying to tackle Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist holding innocent shoppers and store workers at gunpoint.

Coulibaly had left one of his weapons on a shop counter but remained armed with at least one Kalashnikov rifle. One of the hostages, a customer at the kosher supermarket, made a grab for the gun, lifted it off the counter and aimed it at Coulibaly, whose back was turned. What the hostage had not realised was that Coulibaly had discarded the firearm because it had stopped working in the moments after he had fired it off and taken control of the shop.

The hostage squeezed the trigger but the gun jammed once more. Coulibaly turned around and fired at the man. He died on the spot.

The victim was one of four people murdered in the Hyper Cacher by Coulibaly, a 32-year-old jihadist who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. The victims were named yesterday by the French Board of Jewish Deputies as Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada.

GABRIELLE CHATELAIN/AFP/Getty ImagesA screengrab taken from an AFP TV video shows members of the French police special forces launching the assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, on January 9, 2015 where at least two people were shot dead on January 9 during a hostage-taking drama at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris, and five people were being held, official sources told AFP.

A day earlier Coulibaly had killed a policewoman in cold blood, laid low for 24 hours and then stormed the supermarket in Porte de Vincennes in the east of Paris. Details emerged last night through eyewitness accounts and through video and audio footage of the hostage crisis as it unfolded, culminating in its bloody finale.

One of the survivors, Mickael B – he declined to give his full name – told how he had embarked on a routine trip to the shops with his three-year-old son for bread and kosher chicken when he became embroiled in the siege. He was later photographed clutching his son, fleeing from the supermarket at the end of the siege. But before that he and other captives had to endure hours of terror.

“I was heading for the check-out with the goods in my hand when I heard a bang – very loud. I thought it was a firecracker at first. But turning I saw a black man armed with two Kalashnikov rifles and I knew something bad was happening,” said Mickael B.

“I grabbed my son by the collar and fled to the back of the store. There, with other customers, we ran down a spiral staircase into the basement. We all piled into one of two cold rooms – our door wouldn’t close. We were terrified.”

French police

French policeAmedy Coulibaly was killed Friday after seizing hostages in a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

They were led to the refuge by store worker Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali. His actions saved many lives. Among the 15 or so hostages taken down the spiral staircase were three children with their parents. “When they ran down, I opened the door [of the freezer],” said Mr Bathily, “There are several people who have come to me. I turned off the light, I turned off the freezer. I closed the door. I told them: ‘Stay calm here. I’m going out.’” One of the trapped hostages joked with him: “We’ll open a bottle of wine. Here, there are plenty.”

Using a goods lift Bathily escaped and was able to give the police valuable information about what was happening inside and where the hostages were hiding.

Mickael B had chosen the wrong cold room to hide in. While about 15 survivors hid in the cold room next door, its door shut tight and the lights switched off, Mickael B and other captives were quickly discovered.

“A store employee was sent down by the killer. She said he had said we were to go back up otherwise there’d be carnage. I refused to go up,” said Mickael B. “By now my son, understanding nothing, was panicking. Then minutes later the employee comes back down with the same message. This time I decided to follow her up the spiral staircase.

“At the top, a man was dying in a pool of his own blood. The terrorist introduced himself to us. He was strangely calm. ‘I am Amedi Coulibaly, Malian and Muslim. I belong to the Islamic State,’he told us.”

The hostages were ordered to put down their mobile phones. Each in turn was then made to state their name, profession and origin. Coulibaly then launched into a rant, justifying his actions in support of his “brothers” in Syria and in French prisons.

Mickael B told of the dramatic moment when a fellow hostage attempted to fight back. “Suddenly one of the customers tried to grab one of his guns which he’d left on the counter. It wasn’t working. The terrorist had put it there because it had blocked after the first shots,” Mickael told Le Point magazine. “He turned and shot at the customer, who died on the spot.”


ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty ImagesThe French police forces taking position Friday by the kosher grocery store in Saint-Mande, near Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris.

Mickael was ordered by Coulibaly, guns in his hands, to switch on his phone and to call the media. Mickael B’s son began crying, calling the terrorist a “bad man.” After calls were made to the press — in one conversation Coulibaly confirmed he had killed a policewoman the previous day and admitted he was working with the brothers who had targeted Charlie Hebdo magazine — Mickael B discreetly switched his telephone back on and called the police.

Coulibaly, meanwhile, began to pace the supermarket, prowling up and down the aisles. In a bizarre rant, recorded by journalists on a phone that had remained switched on, Coulibaly could be heard railing against the French state and mocking his hostages for paying taxes.

“They must stop attacking the Islamic State, stop unveiling our women, stop putting our brothers in prison for nothing at all,” he said. “It is you [the hostages] who is financing [the government]. You pay taxes.” At that point, a hostage replied: “We are obliged to [pay taxes].” Coulibaly responded: “You do not have to. I do not pay taxes.”

Downstairs in the cold room, hostages huddled in silence and in the dark, listening for telltale noises above.

Among them was Sarah Bitton, a 20-year-old Belgian mother hiding with her 11-month-old baby. She was later photographed fleeing the scene with tears of joy in her eyes. She had feared her child might die from hypothermia and wrapped her tight to keep her warm.

“The mother is happy and relieved. The baby did not suffer from hypothermia following his period in the cold store. Both mother and baby are doing well,” a source said later.


ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty ImagesA forensic police officer works next to the bullet-riddled windows of the Hyper Casher kosher grocery store near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris on January 9, 2015 after police launched an assault killing the gunman holed up in the market and freeing the hostages.

Another parent with his child hiding in the cold room was a man yesterday identified only as Ilan. He quickly removed his jacket and wrapped his son in it to protect the toddler from the freezing temperatures. Hidden in the cold, they and the other hostages remained in the refrigerator for nearly five hours.

Meanwhile, Ilan’s mother realised her son and grandson were hidden and decided not to try to contact them, even by text. Instead she gave Ilan’s mobile phone number to police, who were able to use it to track the location of the man, his son and the other hostages inside the store. According to Francois Molins, chief Paris prosecutor, prosecutor, this knowledge may have contributed to their survival when police finally stormed the store and killed Coulibaly.

Back on the shop floor, the crisis was coming to a dramatic conclusion.

Mickael B was by now in dialogue with police on the other end of the phone.

“A policeman told me that we should be ready to throw ourselves flat on the ground when the assault came, which would be soon,” he said yesterday, “It was obvious that the terrorist was preparing to die. He said it was his reward. He had a weapon in each hand and boxes of cartridges nearby. He suddenly began to pray.

“My mobile was still on. The police had heard it all. Minutes later the shop grille was lifted. We knew it was the start of the assault.”

Television footage broadcast by the French channel TV2 showed about 30 armed police gathering outside the Hyper Cacher door. The metal shutters began to open, revealing, almost in slow motion, the carnage within.

The camera then captured the moment flash grenades were thrown in before a single, courageous policeman stormed in through the entrance. The body of a hostage was seen lying on the floor just inside; other police standing back firing from the threshold.

Part-way through the two-minute long video footage, a figure came charging out of the smoke-filled supermarket and towards the entrance. At least one police officer to the right of the doorway raised his pistol and the man, presumed to be Coulibaly, collapsed.

At this point the video stopped abruptly and then resumed as relieved hostages poured out the doors to freedom.

Inside the supermarket the lives of Mickael B, his son and the other hostages had been saved.

“We flung ourselves to the ground,” said Mickael B, “The noise was deafening. He was dead. It was over.”


0_vb5xg6uyIsraelis, mostly French Jews gather to pay tribute to victims of the attack on kosher grocery store in Paris where four hostages were killed on Friday, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015.

A photograph showing a corpse just inside the door is possibly the body of Coulibaly. Outside, survviors thanked Lassana Bathily. “They congratulated me,” he said with modest understatement. Last night the process began of mourning the hostages Coulibaly had needlessly murdered. It is not yet known which was the heroic captive who had tried to stand up to the killer.

Among the dead was Yoav Hattab, just 22. The son of the distinguished chief rabbi of Tunis, Rabbi Betto Hattab, he was described by friends as a “respectful” and “well-mannered” student. One friend, Hichem Boussetta, posted on Facebook: “This could have happened to all of us! Yoav Hattab fell because of stupidity and blindness.”

Another called Badis tweeted: “He was someone unique. Very well mannered, respectful of other religions. Proud to be Tunisian and proud of his religion. RIP.”

A neighbour of Philippe Braham, a college professor and father of four, mourned his passing. “He is a very courteous, discreet man who always says good morning as we pass. This is so shocking.”

Amid the wreckage and the corpses in the supermarket, police were to discover that Coulibaly had come preapred and armed for a long fight, having fortified the shop with booby traps to repel police special forces.

He fired on police with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a “Skorpion” military pistol. After he was shot dead, police later found two Russian-made Tokarev pistols, two machine guns, a bullet-proof vest and ammunition in the kosher supermarket. Mr Molins, chief Paris prosecutor, said the supermarket had been rigged with 15 explosive sticks and one detonator.

A free speech crisis

The message of the Paris terrorists couldn’t have been clearer. They didn’t target the instruments of state power, the military or the police. They didn’t target the representatives of the…

MP Michelle Rempel calls on Canadians not to ‘explain away’ extremism in candid post about Paris attack

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel took to Facebook Thursday with an impassioned plea for Canadians to resist the urge to “explain away” the threat of Islamic extremism in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

“Today – watching the coverage in Paris – an instant sickness grew in my gut,” Ms. Rempel wrote, comparing the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris to her own experience on Parliament Hill during the Oct. 22 shootings in Ottawa. On that day, a gunman shot dead Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he stood sentry on the National War Memorial. The shooter then briefly hijacked Ms. Rempel’s empty ministerial car on his way to his way to Centre Block.

“Frankly, I don’t understand why I’m alive and [Cpl. Cirillo is] not,” the Conservative MP wrote.

Even before the Ottawa attack, Ms. Rempel was an outspoken opponent of jihadists online — mocking ISIS threats on Canadians with a Twitter photo of herself “feeling pretty secure” in her bedroom in September.

I’m feeling pretty secure right now – b/c of hard won freedoms. #Canada. #securebedroomselfie…

Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) September 22, 2014

“If we are truly Charlie, we’ll move beyond hashtag activism and agree to call a spade a spade,” Ms. Rempel wrote, referencing the #JeSuisCharlie movement that sprouted on Twitter shortly after the killings.

“We won’t rationalize it, acquiesce to it, apologize for it, or shy from it.”

Ms. Rempel, the minister of western economic diversification, echoed Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who warned Thursday that “the international jihadist movement has declared war.”

“The reality of the world is the following — and I don’t say this with any particular pleasure or excitement, in fact, quite the contrary,” he said. “They have declared war on anyone who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act.”

“We may not like this and wish it would go away. But it is not going to go away. The reality is we are going to have to confront it.”

Text of Michelle Rempel’s Facebook post:

On fear, intimidation, and ‪#‎charliehebdo‬

On October 22, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was standing sentry at the National War Memorial. Shortly after beginning his duty that day Cpl. Cirillo lay on the ground, shot by a radicalized terrorist. Nathan had been unarmed.

Earlier in October our country was seized with the debate on how to respond to the threat to Canada that ISIS posed.

Party leaders in the House of Commons were deeply divided this – I would prefer to characterize one particular position as deeply ignorant – however, that is not the point I’m trying to prove.

Rather, my focus here is on the that debate ensued.

Differences of opinion were shared. Political talk shows were had. Motivations were analyzed. Wide divides on opinions were held, gaffes were made.

Free speech reigned supreme.

No one was shot at.

Until October 22.

I’ve had….great difficulty….wrapping my head around October 22 and Cpl. Cirillo. Frankly, I don’t understand why I’m alive and he’s not. A block away from where we were sitting that morning, he stood serving us; from all accounts with pride. His life, his promise, his daily influence in his son’s life – ended.

There isn’t a day that has passed since that day that I don’t think of Cpl. Cirillo – of Barbara Winters, standing over him telling him he was loved as he passed.

I never knew him, but now every day there is a reminder of him for me – these are personal. But Nathan – he’s part of me now. Regardless of who our leader is he’s part of all 308 of us, elected to represent Canadian democracy who were in the House of Commons that day.

Today – watching the coverage in Paris – an instant sickness grew in my gut. I knew – in my head; that echo of the sound of a shot that is directed at you – not for who you are but what you stand for. That sickening – gag — recognition that someone prepared a physical weapon against something and you happen to be the indiscriminate living embodiment of that something; and that weapon is there to end your humanity, your voice, your joy, your ideas, your experience, your love, your family, your legacy, your ripple effect, you’re … next.

You’re wrong. You offend me. You’re not human. Convert or die; I’m the boss, run. Run. You can’t hide, you can’t beat this. Run. I am power. I am voice. This is the end. You have lost. We have won. Fear us. You’re not human, run.





Be silent.

Acknowledge, acquiesce, apologize.




It would be so easy, wouldn’t it? For us to shy away from this discussion – the radicalization of Islamic militants, and the impact of all terrorism on each of us; to rationalize it, to explain it away, to pretend it doesn’t impact us, to dilute it in the context of other issues, BRIGHT SHINY OBJECT LOOK OVER THERE NOTHING TO SEE HERE THERE’S A SEA BETWEEN US AND THIS ISSUE WE’LL SEND COLD EATHER GEAR EXPRESS POST.

Except, October 22.

Except, WO Vincent. Except, Lindt Café.

Except, Steven Sotloff and James Foley.

Except, David Haines, Alan Henning, and Peter Kassig.

Except, countless rapes, beheadings, genital mutilations, separated families, tortured persons, displaced people, lives ruined, children killed, mother’s anguish, the removal of rights of women, LGBTQ, religious minorities, quashing of free speech, threats, the rise of a regime that sees these ‘transgressors’ as subhuman, the enthusiastic embrace of the antithesis of western democratic ideals…..

…except #charliehebdo….



Here’s the rub; in 2015 humanity is decreasingly fighting nations, and increasingly fighting ideologies.

And therein lies our conundrum….how do Canadians celebrate and promote our great, unique, and precious Canadian pluralism, without denouncing the full rejection of these ideals that is aim of radicalized Islamist terrorists and the ISIS agenda?


We should start by acknowledging that our country is coming into greatness because of its pluralistic jumble; a glorious mash of varying political ideology, journalistic bias, religious belief, cultural heritage, and diversity.

We should then acknowledge that we are united by a unified belief in full equality of opportunity, of personage, of social inclusion, of freedom of speech, association and the right to hold religious belief without persecution; to express our identity in the manner we see fit, to hold the freedom to choose who we love, and what we set our hand to as our life’s work.

We then should give a nod to those who forged this nationhood by fighting against those who would reverse or change it, or stand in direct opposite threat to its existence. Ypres, Regina Trench, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Mons.


Extremism, terrorism.


We will have vigorous debate on how to achieve a means to this end; that’s part of who we are. It’s the definition of our wonderfully free democracy.

However, what we shouldn’t do is shy away from the debate and pretend it doesn’t affect us. We cannot apologize away a direct threat to the process we’ve embraced which allows us to thrive economically while debating policy designed to enshrine and refine our pluralism, under the guise of political correctness, or fear of corporate editors.

Ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist or, assuming in all circumstances that the perpetrators of this form of violence are somehow victims, shows intimidation and acquiescence to an ideology that is the antithesis of our identity as Canadians.

If we are truly Charlie, we’ll move beyond hashtag activism and agree to call a spade a spade. We won’t rationalize it, acquiesce to it, apologize for it, or shy from it.

I’ll also continue to think of Nathan.