World leaders, media groups condemn 'barbaric' Paris attack

7th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

World leaders and media rights groups condemned the "barbaric" shooting at a Paris weekly Wednesday which left 12 dead, dubbing it an act of terror and an attack on free speech.

France's EU allies lined up to offer their support after gunmen armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles and a rocket-launcher opened fire at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in what President Francois Hollande said was a "terrorist attack".

The White House condemned it attack in "the strongest possible terms", while a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "Moscow resolutely condemns terrorism in all its forms."

Turkish culture and tourism minister Omer Celik said it would only serve to deepen religious tensions in Europe.

"I reject any equation of Islam and this cowardly attack. One cannot defend Islam with such a massacre," he said.

"This attack aims to reinforce the negative perception of foreigners and Muslims in a climate in Europe of growing Islamophobia and racism."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it was a "brazen assault on free expression in the heart of Europe", while Reporters Without Borders called it a "black day".

- 'Sickening', 'despicable' -

British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the shooting as "sickening" and "barbaric", while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it "despicable".

"This country stands united with the French people in our opposition to all forms of terrorism and we stand squarely for free speech and democracy," Cameron said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States stood ready to help French authorities investigate the assault.

"Everybody here at the White House are with the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack," he said.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi expressed his "horror and dismay", while saying that "violence will always lose out against freedom".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was "profoundly shocked by the brutal and inhuman attack", which was "an act of barbarism".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg used similar language, describing it as a "barbaric act and an outrageous attack on press freedom".

"We stand in full solidarity with our ally France," he said.

"All NATO allies stand together in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations can never be tolerated or justified," he said.

- Attack on free speech -

Police said witnesses heard the attackers shout "we have avenged the prophet" and "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest").

Charlie Hebdo has angered Muslims in the past for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The prime minister of Denmark, where the publication of a dozen cartoons of Islam's founding prophet in 2005 also triggered violent protests, said she stood with France.

"Completely defenceless and innocent people became the victims of what appears to be an attack on free speech," Helle Thorning-Schmidt said.

"The French society, like ours, is open, democratic and based on a free and critical press. Those are values that are deeply rooted in all of us, and which we shall protect.

"It is also those very values that make France a strong society that can withstand an attack like this."

© 2015 AFP

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