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Frankreich Terror Presse Anschlag auf Charlie Hebdo in Paris
Image: Reuters/J. Naegelen

Charlie Hebdo in African media

Katrin Matthaei / mc
January 8, 2015

Aside from pockets of Islamist fervor, the world has responded with shock to the assault on Charlie Hebdo which left 12 people dead. In Africa, media workers fear for press freedom and ethics.


Renowned South African cartoonist Zapiro told the news agency AFP he hoped the attack in Paris on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo wouldn't have "a further chilling effect on satirists, commentators and journalists, and any free thinkers in society." But he added pessimistically "I'm afraid that scenario is probably inevitable."

Like the Charlie Hebdo team, Zapiro, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, has drawn condemnation for drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Koffia Ametepe, who works for the satirical paper Journal du Jeudi in Burkina Faso, told DW he was dismayed that journalists working for a paper - in particular a satirical paper - had been attacked. "The terrorists want to muzzle journalists. Here in Burkina Faso, we are used to the threat of terrorism -- but in the heart of Paris, it's very sad," he said.

Frankreich Terror Presse Anschlag auf Charlie Hebdo Zeichner Cabu
Jean 'Cabu' Cabut was one of five French cartoonists killed in Wednesday's assaultImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Moussa Ould Samba Sy, who heads an association of privately-owned newspapers in Mauritania, told the French broadcaster RFI that as "a journalist, Muslim and Mauritanian, I wish to express outrage at this unbelievable deed which targeted freedom of expression - journalists at their place of work."

Antoine Tiemoko Assal, managing director of the satirical weekly L'Elephant Dechaine said these "backward-looking elements want to criticize the freedom of the press, they want to kill it. It is as if they are calling on us to turn the clock back ten centuries to before the Enlightenment."

Tribute to slain cartoonist

In a similar vein, Tiokk Baram, editor-in-chief of Le p'tit railleur senegalais, said "this is a terrible attack on our civilization and its values by culprits who are far removed from them."

The cartoonist at Le p'tit railleur senegalais is known as Odia. He regarded Jean "Cabu" Cabut, one of the slain French cartoonists, as his role model. "He was a wonderful person. I can't understand why he had to die such a violent death at the hands of armed men simply because of his ideas. It is unbelievably sad," he said.

Nigeria is divided into a mainly Christian south and mainly Muslim north. Mohamed Ibrahim, a journalist from the Peoples Daily in the federal capital Abuja, said he was shocked because colleagues had been killed.

"Definitely as a human being you have to feel sorry, you have to feel saddened, that they have been targeted and killed. But sometimes you have to ask what led to that - the rationale behind the killings. Sometimes the media organizations do go against the ethics of the profession and by doing so, you are definitely putting the lives of your staff, the lives of your journalists at risk," he said.

Godfrey Mwampembwa, who is the cartoonist Gado on Kenya's Daily Nation, told DW's Africalink show "there is no justification whatsoever for what happened in Paris."

Tribune Madagaskar commented that one knew that journalism was a dangerous profession - but certainly not to this degree and certainly not in a great democracy like France.

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