‘He died defending the right to ridicule his faith’: France unites behind #JeSuisAhmed
Posted January 9, 2015on:
‘He died defending the right to ridicule his faith’:
- Gunmen stormed office in Paris with guns and rocket-propelled grenades
- Police officers Ahmed Merabet and Franck Brinsolaro killed in the attack
- Shocking footage showed Mr Merabet being executed in the street
- He was a 42-year-old bicycle patrolman, who also happened to be Muslim
- Tributes have poured in for the ‘heroic’ officer killed in the line of duty
- Under the rallying cry of ‘I am Ahmed’, thousands have shown solidarity
- Some pointed out he died protecting those who poked fun at his religion
Thousands were today paying tribute to dead Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet using the rallying cry ‘JeSuisAhmed’ after the heroic officer was gunned down in Paris.
The celebration of Mr Merabet, who was killed as he begged for his life by suspected Islamic fanatics, echoes the ‘JeSuisCharlie’ (I am Charlie) demonstrations that have swept the world in the wake of yesterday’s shocking massacre.
His colleagues today said they were in extreme shock after a video of the Charlie Hebdo office attack emerged – showing Mr Merabet on the ground and begging for mercy as he is killed casually executed by a gunshot to the head.
Police officer Ahmed Merabet (identified on Twitter, above) was killed while working in the area Charlie Hebdo’s offices are located
Today, #JeSuisAhmed began trending on Twitter as thousands expressed their admiration for his sacrifice while defending the right to freedom of speech.
The rallying cry is a play on words of ‘Je Suis Charlie’, the catchphrase spawned in the wake of the deadly massacre to show solidarity with those killed.
Mr Merabet, originally from Livry-Gargan in north eastern Paris, had been a fully-trained police officer for eight years.
Today his police union colleagues released a statement, stating they were in shock after seeing him ‘shot down like a dog’.
The union’s departmental secretary, Rocco Contento, said he was a very quiet and conscientious man.
He added: ‘We are all extremely shocked. The police are deeply affected by the video of the murder of their colleague circulating on some networks.’
It is understood that Mr Merabet was a married Parisian cycle cop assigned to the 11th arrondissement – the Paris neighbourhood where Charlie Hebdo’s office is located and known for its dining and fine wines.
As the French magazine vowed to publish next week in defiance of the massacre, one French mourner wrote: ‘Ahmed Merabet died protecting the innocent from hate. I salute him.’
Members of Sydney’s French community gather in the Australian city for a memorial in the wake of the deadly killing
Mr Merabet was one of 12 people killed in the terrifying attack, including eight journalists at the offices of the French satirical newspaper, two guests, and one other policeman.
Tributes for Mr Merabet continuing pouring in today, with one person writing: ‘RIP Ahmed Merabet, French policeman, murdered protecting people in Paris’, while Alan Mendoza said: ‘Important to note that amid the carnage today a brave Muslim policeman was murdered by those claiming to represent Islam.’
His family have said they wish to bury him at a famous Muslim cemetery in France. Located just north-east of Paris, it is the burial ground of more than 7,000 Muslims.
Editor Stephane Charbonnier – who famously said he would rather die than ‘live like a rat’ – was also killed alongside Franck Brinsolaro, a police officer assigned to protect him.
French police officer and brother of slain Franck Brinsolaro, Philippe Brinsolaro (centre) is pictured during a minute’s silence held today in Marseille
Philippe Brinsolaro, the brother of one of the police officers killed, speaks to media in Marseille
The hugely popular cartoonists Bernard Verlhac, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut and Philippe Honore were also massacred, alongside with psychiatrist Elsa Cayat, and Bernard Maris, Michael Renaud, Frederic Boisseau and Mustapha Ourrad.
The second police officer to be killed in the attack was Franck Brinsolaro, 49, a brigadier and protection officer for the magazine’s editor Stephane Charbonnier.
The married 49-year-old lived in Bernay, France, and was the father of two children. His wife, Ingrid Brinsolaro, is editor of the Awakening Normand, Bernay, a newspaper that belongs to the group Publihebdos, as Hebdo de Sevre et Maine.
The team at Publihebdos have released a statement regarding the killing.
It read: ‘Publihebdos teams are in shock after the cowardly attack… that hit Charlie Hebdo today.
Among those killed were Stephane Charbonnier, 47, the magazine’s editor (left) and cartoonist Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac, 57 (right)
‘This barbaric attack had many victims, including a downed police officer who was the husband of Ingrid Brinsolaro, our editor at Bernay. We are devastated and very sad.
‘With this attack it is the journalists that one is. Freedom of the press is challenged and through it all our freedoms.
‘Our duty, the honor of the publishing community is to affirm more than ever its solidarity with his friends of Charlie Hebdo for the defense and illustration of the freedom of the press.
‘It is also to declare that it will never yield to threats and intimidation against intangible principles of freedom of expression.’
Among the victims was Mr Charbonnier, the defiant editor whose satirical newspaper dared to poke fun at everything from religion to feminism.
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