Police protection for local sites after Charlie Hebdo massacre
Following the shooting deaths of 12 people in the editorial offices of Paris’ Charlie Hebdo newspaper yesterday, locations across Belgium are seeing heightened security
12 dead in Paris shooting
Other sites considered vulnerable are not being named for security reasons, although the French embassy in Brussels is expected to be one of them.
By mutual agreement, the majority of Flemish newspapers are devoting their front pages to cartoons today in tribute to the four cartoonists among the 12 dead in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo editorial team yesterday afternoon by what are being reported as Muslim extremists. Another 11 members of staff were injured.
One of the three alleged attackers, a minor, has turned himself over to police in Paris. The other two, both men who fought for a time in Syria, had been identified as this article went to press. The motive behind the attack appears to be Charlie Hebdo’s habit of mocking radical Islamists, including using inflammatory cartoon representations of Muhammad.
Flemish Parliament has passed an emergency resolution condemning the attack. Prime minister Charles Michel issued a statement on behalf of the federal government expressing his condolences to the French president François Hollande and the French people, in particular the families of the victims.
According to the federal government’s risk analysis office (OCAD), there is no reason to raise the alert level from the present Level Two. The office is following developments in Paris closely, a spokesperson for the interior ministry said.
The reactions of the Flemish press have been unanimous: outrage and defiance. “We will not allow ourselves to be intimidated or, in the long term, you won’t be able to laugh at anything, and I happen to think you should be able to laugh at anything,” said cartoonist Kim Duchateau of De Morgen.
“Let me be quite clear: This is an attack on the freedom of expression,” said Steven Degrysse (Lectrr in De Standaard). “I only hope they don’t close Charlie Hebdo down because then they [the terrorists] will have won.” Gerard Alsteens (GAL in Knack) described the attack as “the 9/11 of the press”.
In Brussels, about 500 members of the public gathered at the French consulate in Regentlaan (pictured), while about 1,000 converged on Luxemburgplein near the European Parliament, to express their solidarity with the victims of the attacks.
Photo by Aurore Belot/NurPhoto/Corbis