Charlie Hebdo: historic trial under high tension

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Five years after the attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, a historic trial opens in Paris. Who end up in court? How do the survivors see this approach? Back on the tragic events of January 7, 2015 to understand the ins and outs.

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In the morning of Wednesday January 7, 2015, when the newsroom was packed, the offices of the French newspaper Charlie hebdo were raided by three heavily armed men who shot dead 11 staff, in addition to seriously injuring several others. Two police officers were also shot. But what happened? Who was against this newspaper and why?

“The attackers, dressed in black and hooded, burst into the building housing the premises of Charlie Hebdo around 11:30 am local time, after arriving at the scene in a black Citroën C3. After killing 11 people on the spot, they resumed their vehicle, opening fire on the way on three police patrols. A policeman from the 11th arrondissement was killed during the third meeting, boulevard Richard-Lenoir. In their flight, the attackers struck a vehicle near the Place du Colonel-Fabien, thereby injuring a female driver. They abandoned their vehicle not far from this place, rue de Meaux, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, near the Porte de Pantin. They then held up a Renault Clio before continuing their run, possibly in the direction of the Seine-Saint-Denis department. "

Radio-Canada, January 7, 2015

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper that makes a lot of political cartoons, but it also practices investigative journalism by publishing reports, for example, on sects, the far right, religions, politics, culture, etc.

After the caricature of Muhammad (founder of Islam and considered a major prophet) published in 2006 in Charlie Hebdo, sometimes violent reactions were observed in Muslim countries. In 2011, the newspaper's offices were damaged by arson, again related to this cartoon. This escalation of violence took the worst turn, in 2015, with the sad events described above. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is therefore an Islamist terrorist attack. It is the Islamist terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQPA) which claimed responsibility for the massacre committed by the Saïd brothers and Chérif Kouachi in the premises of Charlie Hebdo.

On September 2, 2020, exactly five years and eight months later after the tragic events, a historic trial begins in the presence of 11 of the 14 accused. For two and a half months, no less than 150 witnesses and experts will follow one another to provide as much information as possible to the special assize court responsible for judging these attacks:

“This trial has a double interest : approach the truth and offer a moment of expression to the victims, insisted the national anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard. "

Radio-Canada, September 2, 2020

To mark the opening of the trial and as a strong symbol, Charlie Hebdo republished in front page the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad who had made the newspaper the target of terrorists:

" Basically, Charlie's mind is that, it's refusing to give up our freedoms, said the newspaper's lawyer, Me Richard Malka. Do not be afraid of terrorism or freedom, he launched before the opening of the trial. "

Radio-Canada, September 2, 2020


What is Charlie Hebdo? Invite your students to learn about this video made by Brut. What do they think of this newspaper? Do they like the tone? The intention? Do they find him provocative? They can write their thoughts on their blog or any other medium you communicate to them.



Disciplines and levels targeted


  • Possible topics:
    • Freedom
    • Tolerance

Targeted dimensions of digital competence

  • Producing content with digital
  • Developing and mobilizing information literacy
  • Harnessing the potential of digital technology for learning
  • Developing critical thinking with regard to the use of digital technology

Suggested digital tools

  • Can go
  • Pixabay
  • Twitter

Educational intention of the guide

The following activities will allow students to reflect on freedom of expression and to become aware of the intolerance of certain groups towards others.

Objectives of the activities

  • Explain the tragic event in their own words.
  • Know the characteristics of Charlie Hebdo.
  • Become aware of the diversity of means of obtaining information in the years 2010-2020 compared to other periods.
  • Observe different cartoons on the current topic and analyze them to better understand.

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Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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