Je suis Charlie

We communicate today in more ways and at greater speed than at any time in history
There's never been a worse time for zealots to try to curtail free speech

This blog post constitutes personal opinion
Pick up your pencils and draw

Wednesday 7th January saw a brutal attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in order to silence them. The following week has only seen their profile raised massively.

Je suis Charlie

"Je suis Charlie" by Joachim Roncin


Charlie Hebdo had a circulation of 60,000 prior to last week's attack and was reportedly under serious threat of going out of publication. One week later, and people were literally queuing around the block to get their hands on a copy, and from the crack of dawn too.

3 million copies were to be printed, then the numbers were upped again and at the last count 5 million copies have been sold. Still the demand could not be satisfied and scans of the contents started appearing online.

You can now download Charlie Hebdo as an app for Android on Google Play, iTunes and Windows Phone.


The Charlie Hebdo twitter account added 125,000 followers in January, a fifty percent increase. As of the 12 January, the hashtag had been tweeted over 6 million times. This CartoDB visualisation displays twitter use of the hashtag by geolocation on the 7th January:

CartoDB visualisation of #JeSuisCharlie on 7 January 2015

"CartoDB visualisation of #JeSuisCharlie on 7 January 2015"


This attack against freedom of expression has been the most catastrophic failure of approach used by any terrorists ever. If the unity rallies in Paris and around France, or the condemnations on social media, or the quality of cartoons published are anything to go by, then the desire for Liberté is growing in strength.

Charlie Hebdo is part of a long tradition of comic satire in Europe, one only has to think of the power Punch once had in ridiculing politicians and royalty here in the UK. Whilst an opinion piece in the Guardian or Mail can be cutting, and an aggressive punchline from a stand-up comedian more so, a well-crafted doodle can trump anything, even a hail of bullets.

Cartoon responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack

The cartoons that came out shortly after the first events occurred on Wednesday, were some of the best produced in years. Ruben Oppenheimer's twin pencils with an aeroplane flying towards them:

David Pope of the Canberra Times, "He drew first":

Carlos Latuff provocatively showing the bullets of the attackers at the offices of Charlie Hebdo going through the building and damaging a mosque behind him:

My own personal favourite is by Lucille Clerc (retweeted by Bansky ) but if anything the image massively underestimates the number of pencils that will now be raised in response, more journalists and bloggers motivated to discuss this one topic, and the number of tweets with the hashtag making it one of the most tweeted topics in Twitter history.


The magazine came out this week, as usual, and as should have been expected - like a comedy sketch show - not all the contents will be to everyone's taste. Many of the cartoons are puerile, some not very funny, some are poignant and some are hilarious.

For those who appreciate intelligent debate I heartily recommend an episode of Worlds Apart on RT entitled “Checkpoint Charlie” (15 January), in which Telegraph columnist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet counters Oksana Boyko’s arguments admirably, offering a solid defence of free speech and freedom of expression.

Many devout Muslims will not appreciate the cover of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo, nor how it looks from a different angle. So will I be reprinting cartoons of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) here? No, because I don't think anything will be gained from this, the perpetrators wanted to create division and they have failed spectacularly.

 Will we change our way of life? Non! None negotiable 

Last Sunday millions of people (including many world leaders often subject to cartoon mockery themselves) marched in unity through the streets of Paris in solidarité, fraternité and in the name of liberté.

So, what have we learnt from this? People in France value their freedom of expression highly, people around the world value the people of France and freedom of expression, and that those who engage in terrorist acts in the name of their religion not only fail to comprehend the central theme of their religion but also fail to foresee the consequences of their actions. Which in this case, were to further the cause of the very thing they wished to stop.

The Observer

Ed Vulliamy

January 18, 2015

A week inside Charlie Hebdo: how the 'survival issue' was made

In the wake of the shocking attack on Charlie Hebdo, Ed Vulliamy spent time with the magazine's surviving cartoonists as they put together their survivors' issue.

In response to such actions will we change our way of life? Non! None negotiable. We are the same people we were before and after 9/11, 7/7, and countless other atrocities, and we will go on living as we always have.

The Papers

Readers might also be interested in an article in The Observer, written by Ed Vulliamy, "A week inside Charlie Hebdo: how the 'survival issue' was made", where he details the time he spent with remaining cartoonists associated with Charlie Hebdo, who helped produce Edition N° 1178.

Richard Fortune
Written By

Richard Fortune

A seasoned Lead Architect delivering complex distributed cloud solutions with four decades coding experience.