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France: Council of Europe leaders condemn ‘Charlie Hebdo’ terrorist attack

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur have expressed their shock at today’s terrorist attack at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Jagland, in Ankara for a meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Davutoğlu, described the 11h (CET) events in the French capital as “very worrying.

“This terrorist attack was clearly targeted to hit journalists and undermine freedom of expression,” he declared. “It was an outrageous attack on our democratic and European values. It is another example of the threatening radicalisation of our societies, which we must resolutely resist.

“Europe’s governments and institutions, including the Council of Europe, have to take all possible action to better protect journalists and media freedom in future. I extend my condolences to the people of France and especially to the victims’ families and friends.”

Brasseur said: “My thoughts are with the victims of this horrendous act and particularly with the families of the dead, journalists and policemen. I hope that the killers will be brought to justice swiftly.”

Twelve people are understood to have died in the attack, the worst terrorist outrage in the country for more than 50 years. A further eight people were injured by the killers, said to be three masked and hooded gunmen, armed with automatic weapons and a rocket-launcher. Four of these victims remain in a critical condition.

“While details are still emerging, there is little doubt this was a frontal attack on press freedom, one of the most precious of the principles upheld by the Council of Europe,” Brasseur added.

Didier Reynders, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, joined the chorus of condemnation.

“I am deeply shocked by the horrendous attack committed this morning in Paris against ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine,” he declared. “On behalf of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, I extend my condolences to all the victims’ families and express my solidarity and my full support towards the French authorities and people.

“With the utmost firmness, I condemn this barbaric act. We must mobilise in defence of our values and our freedoms, including freedom of expression. We must also strive to ensure that the spirit of tolerance holding our societies together prevails over the hatred and division which the terrorists seek to provoke. The Council of Europe is determined to pursue its action to that end.”

Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, said: “The attack against Charlie Hebdo is a despicable act of barbarism that disgusts us. The assassins killed so abjectly police officers, journalists, men and women. But they did not act at random – they wanted to silence the free press that characterises our democracy.

“In tribute to the memory and courage of the victims, it is for all democrats to mobilise, in order that freedom of expression remains the cement of our democratic society and the rule of law prevails over terrorism.”

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