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‘Without Humor, We Are All Dead': Cartoonists Pay Tribute to Fallen Comrades After Charlie Hebdo Massacre

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“We are Charlie” projected on Place de la République in Paris after the attach against Charlie Hebdo. Photo via Claire Ulrich

On the morning of January 7 on a quiet street in Paris, two men armed with automatic weapons killed 12 people and severely injured four others during an attack on the office of French magazine Charlie Hebdo. For several years, the weekly had received threats from extremists around the world for its daring, often offensive satire.

A banner at one of the spontaneous vigils that sprung up throughout France after the assault said that the planned attack “killed 12 and wounded 66 million” citizens. In France, the shock following the massacre was compounded by the fact that for four decades, the five cartoonists were taken for granted, as much a part of the French culture as lilies in May or Bastille Day. Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Honoré  and Tignous were the “naughty uncles” that would make light fun of everything and everyone. Their irreverence knew no bounds; they could both draw a smile from teenagers and grandparents alike and offend them at the same time. They always went too far, pushing the envelope of what can be made fun of, with a particular fondness for religious satire.

Editor-in-chief Charb, whose full name was Stéphane Charbonnier, was under police protection, and his bodyguard was killed with him during the attack. Below is a quote from Charb from 2012 that is tragically prescient of the events to come:  

"I do not fear retribution. I have no children, no wife, no car, no credit. It might seem pompous, but I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees." Image widely circulated online.

“I do not fear retribution. I have no children, no wife, no car, no credit. It might seem pompous, but I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees.” Image widely circulated online.

Blogger @Le_M_Poireau mourned the loss of Cabu: 

I think of the gentle soul that Cabu and I weep #CharlieHebdo

While a parody account of God reminded the world of their loss with a touch of humor:

I just welcomed four great cartoonists in heaven. They are drawing naked and we are having a blast. Feeling bad for you on earth who have lost them. 

There is not much to say that has not already being debated at length in the media and on social media. So here are a few of the most irreverent cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published as well as some images that have circulated online in tribute to the slain cartoonists. As Chapatte, a fellow French cartoonist wrote in his in memorium cartoon: “Without Humor, We Are All Dead“. 

Some of the controversial cartoons from the magazine that targeted religion:

-The pope is going too far!  -This is my body! Image from Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page.

The pope is going too far!: “This is my body!”
Image from Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page.

Prophet Muhammad is tired of extremists: ”It is a challenge to be loved by idiots.”

Prophet Muhammad is tired of extremists: ”It is a challenge to be loved by idiots.”

There is no God.  -Yes!

-There is no God.
-Yes!
Image by Cabu

100 lashes if you are not laughing!  Images from Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page.

100 lashes if you are not laughing!
Images from Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page.

In its latest cover before the attack, Charlie Hebdo published an eerie cartoon by Charb:

Still no attacks in France. Wait, we still have until the end of January to wish people an excellent new year.    Image from Alexandre Hervaud's Twitter page.

Still no attacks in France. Wait, we still have until the end of January to wish people an excellent new year.
Image from Alexandre Hervaud's Twitter page.

And here are some of the most striking cartoons and images on the web that have circulated in tribute to those killed. Some were created after the attack, while others were older images repurposed for this recent tragedy.

4 cartoonists in heaven, Muhammad and Jesus are dismayed… 

“This is not a religion” – Dorian Danielsen

Proud of my ex-colleagues. CBC newsroom in Montreal supports #CharlieHebdo

Rest in peace and thanks for the memories.

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