Charlie Hebdo tragedies shake Paris, Staples and the world


At 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert in the 11th Arrondissement, at about 11:30 a.m in Paris, France, Wednesday, Jan. 7, three men launched a terrorist attack against satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead and several others injured.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said in an interview with the New York Times that two men, both wearing black masks over their faces and armed with AK-47 rifles, forced their way into the weekly’s offices, where they opened fire at people in the lobby before making their way to the newsroom on the second floor, interrupting a staff meeting and firing at the assembled journalists.

“From what it sounds like, the people perpetrating it were extremists who lack the ability to use logic and reason,” said Alix Neenan ’12, a Staples graduate and former Editor-in-Chief of Inklings. “They got offended by the magazine’s caricatures of their religion, which can definitely be construed as offensive, but certainly not something to murder people over.”

Neenan is currently enrolled at Boston University but has recently been studying abroad in Paris.  She was buying bread in a boulangerie when she first heard about the attack on television.

“I was obviously scared, especially since I’m staying alone in the city without family right now,” Neenan said. “So I knew I should probably just camp out in my friend’s apartment.”

Today, Friday, Jan. 9, the two men behind the massacre, Cherif Kouachi, 34, and his brother, Said Kouachi, are holding a hostage in an industrial building 25 miles northeast of Paris.

Several other hostages, two supposedly with gunshot wounds, are reportedly being kept at a kosher deli east of Paris. One of the men holding these five is Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who authorities said was a friend and associate of Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and who was also thought to be responsible for the killing of a female police officer in Montrouge, a suburb south of Paris, on Thursday morning.

Coulibaly is threatening to kill the hostages if authorities move in on the Kouachis.

“I feel less safe than yesterday,” said Neenan, “but more safe than I felt on Sunday.”

Staples alumnus Blake Anderson Garland-Tirado spent last semester in France. He noted that, “France has a history of Islamic terrorism, especially during its war with Algeria. So increasing security may not be the only or best solution, as they should know from their past and the United States’ [history].”

Both Neenan and Garland-Tirado have been shaken by the attack and the current hostage situations.

“When I learned about the event in full, I felt a little angry because it was as though the terrorists had attacked my own country,” Garland-Tirado said.

Neenan called the massacre “completely deplorable.”

“France especially is a country that prides itself on its freedom of speech, and this includes the publication of an offensive article,” Neenan said in defense of Charlie Hebdo. “I go to school in Boston and was incredibly offended when Rolling Stone published a magazine cover with the marathon bomber. However, I didn’t feel the need to resort to violence and I just unsubscribed from the magazine.”

Garland-Tirado said he just hopes that news outlets keep to the facts and avoid using the shooting and the current situation as an aid to promote fear of Muslims, Islam, or the Middle East in general.

“I don’t have internet on my phone here so I really don’t have access to much,” Neenan said. “But I had noticed while walking home that there seemed to be a lot of armed officers on various street corners, definitely more than usual.  the mood throughout the city has been pretty somber – the Métro, for example, was a lot less crowded than it’s been before, and people seemed almost quieter.”

Despite the tragic event and the current situation, Garland-Tirado maintains his positive view of France.

“France is still a wonderful place,” he said. “And I wish I were still there, despite the recent events.”


The two hostage sites have been stormed by Parisian police. Police told the French media that four of the hostages from the supermarket were shot before police were able to rescue them. Two police officers at the supermarket were injured in the operation. A police officer at the other scene was also injured; fortunately, the one hostage the Kouachi brothers had is unharmed. Both the brothers and other hostage taker Coulibaly are reported dead.