Famed French Cartoonists Among Dead at Charlie Hebdo

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Some of Country’s Most Acute Satirists Were Among the Shooting Victims.

After years of defending their provocative cartoons from attacks and official warnings, journalists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo paid the ultimate price for their irreverent take on religion.

The Wednesday shooting at the magazine’s Paris offices killed some of the country’s sharpest satirical cartoonists, who were celebrated for their critiques against all forms of authority, from government to religion to the military.

Among the 12 dead were Georges Wolinski and Jean Cabut—better known by his pen name Cabu—who since the 1960s had embodied a deep French tradition of no-limits mocking of public figures.

The attack on the magazine is a major blow to the tradition of satire in France, which dates back to at least the 1830s, when political caricaturists Honoré Daumier and Charles Philipon were skewering French political and social life. “Wolinski and Cabu were the tenors of the libertarian wish to establish the greatest liberty of expression,” said Patrick Eveno, a professor for media history at the Sorbonne.

Though Charlie Hebdo featured some of the cruder examples of French satire, France has many other similar titles, including the weekly Le Canard Enchainé and the monthly Sine Mensuel. Ideologically, Charlie Hebdo was resolutely leftist and anti-religion, especially targeting politicians on the right and religious zealots.

Mr. Wolinski, 80 years old at the time of his death, and Mr. Cabut, who was 75, kicked off their careers at Charlie Hebdo’s predecessor satirical Hara-Kiri, a magazine that was banned in November 1970 after it simultaneously mocked the deaths of French President Charles de Gaulle and 146 people who died in a fire at a dance club. The Ministry of Interior at the time cited pornography as a reason for the ban. The magazine renamed itself Charlie Hebdo afterward in a satirical bow to the late president.

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