The comics community is still in shock after the attacks on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo resulting in the deaths, the murder, of at least one editor and four cartoonists, twelve total individuals (including two police officers), as well as the injury to many more.
This is awful beyond words, and monstrous beyond imagining.
Below you’ll see the reaction by many in the comics community to the horrific news. The short version, this is an attack on free speech and expression, violence is never a proper response to satire and free speech, and our thoughts to the friends and families of those lost and affected.
How important are free speech and satire? Important enough that people will murder others to silence the kind of speech they don't like.
Convicted terrorist Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison on Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole. The Massachusettes resident claimed in his statement during his sentencing that the values that lead and inspired him to support al-Qaeda came partially from comic books and specifically Batman.
Mehanna was convicted of seven counts, three for providing false statements to the FBI, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to provide support to al-Qaeda. Mehanna translated numerous al-Qaeda documents into English and posted them online.
From his statement before the court:
When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors, there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the oppressed.
Danish prosecutors charged four Swedes living in Denmark with a plan to attack the Danish newspaper who had printed controversial cartoons about Muhammad. The four planned a shooting spree inside the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Swedish and Danish intelligence officials had been following the men for months.
The suspects wanted “to seriously frighten the population” and kill “a larger number of people.” The Danish Security and Intelligence Service described some of the suspects as “militant Islamists with relations to international terror networks.” The men were also arrested and charged with possession of
The Jyllands-Posten had asked Danish cartoonists to draw the prophet as a challenge to self-censorship.
The trial would start on April 13 with the verdict is expected on June 14.
Jesse Curtis Morton, also known as Younus Abdullah Mohammad, was charged with “criminal threats” in Virginia last week. Morton is the co-founder of a radical Islamic group and the threat was focused towards the creators of the Cartoon South Park over their depiction of Mohammed. Morton is believed to be in Morocco, where he maintains Islampolicy.com, an English-language website propagating pro al Qaeda views. That website is a successor to Revolutionmuslim.com.
Morton is the second person charged with this incident. Zachary Adam Chesser admitted to posting threats and in February was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Chesser encouraged jihadists to attack the creators as well.
Sadly this is just on instance of cartoonists threatened or attacked by Muslim extremists over the depiction of Mohammed. CNN has more on this particular incident. As always, we stand for free speech and condemn the use of threats and intimidation like this.
Each week we bring you quotes from the comic books of the last week to show off it’s more than spandex and guns.
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #4
Patriot – This is terrorism. People could die. And if we let that happen, then we become terrorists, just like Magneto.
Bring the Thunder #2
Wayne – They came from every branch of the military. They weren’t recruited for their ability to work together. They were recruited to kill. That’s the side of war that gets obscured by the chain of command and the red tape. In the end, the goal is to kill your enemy.
Ultimate Comics Captain America #1
(Redacted Spoiler) – You’re not a hero to them. You’re just another blunt instrument the American government uses to bludgeon its enemies into submission.
Danish police are saying five Muslim men have been arrested after raids for “planning a gun attack at the Copenhagen offices of a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005″. The suspected Islamist extremists were planning to attack the office of newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Four suspects are held in Denmark and one in Sweden. The suspects are two Swedish residents with Tunisian backgrounds, one Lebanon-born Swede, an Iraqi and one with Swedish heritage.
The fight for the future of Islamic youth is underway and comic books are playing a role. In an attempt to prevent the young impressionable minds from being corrupted and turned into radicals, a group in Indonesia called Lazuardi Birru are looking at new and creative ways to strike directly at the root of the problem.
Lazuardi Birru was founded two years ago in Jakarta, Indonesia and the nonprofit advocates nonviolence and pluralism. For a year it has had writers and artists working on a 130 page graphic novel whose audience is potential youth who are targets to be radicalized.
Dhyah Madya, head of Lazuardi Birru says:
This comic book was made to emphasize the importance of peace, the correct understanding of jihad and the awareness of movements that promote violence in the name of religion to the youth of Indonesia.
The graphic novel tells the story of the 2002 Bali bombing that occurred in the tourist district of Kuta. The attack was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians.
The true story is from the perspective of three main characters, Ali Imron, one of the terrorists involved in the attack; Haji Agus Bambang Priyanto, a man who helped rescue people after the bombing; and Hayati Eka Laksmi, whose husband was killed in the attack. Interviews gathered the stories and the graphic novel is well researched.
Ali has become known as the brains behind the attack, but due to his remorse and cooperation with the police, he received a life sentence while his cohorts — Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Ghufron — all got the death penalty and were executed in 2008. Over time he opened up to the team to tell his story.
Lazuardi Birru has printed more than 10,000 copies of the graphic novel and plans to distribute the bulk of them for free to mosques, Islamic boarding schools, universities and public libraries in all 33 provinces.
Jeff Mace – It was Independence Day all over again for the hard-working employees of the Morgan Shoe factory, when a new Masked Marvel defended their constitutional right of assembly. The workers had gathered peacefully to discuss factory safety when they were disrupted by an unruly gang who were itching for a fight.
Store owner – You are the terrorists, not me! You and your government!
Deadpool – Hey, don’t look at me– I haven’t voted since the Pepsi challenge!
Store owner – Then you are guilt of doing nothing!
Deadpool – … what!? Man, complex political discussions make my head hurt…
Amina – I guess what I mean to say is one baby is too many to see in a warzone. But that’s the reality. All over the world, in every conflict. Is it any different here in America? Should it be?
The Invincible Iron Man #30
Tony Stark – Tonight, while escorting a young lady home from the Stark Resilient Gala I was the victim of an assassination attempt by terrorists. Apparently someone doesn’t like that Stark Resilient is building you a tomorrow that’s free of dependency on fossil fuels. They found out the hard way you can’t kill Iron Man and you can’t keep American ingenuity down.
Frank Miller is finishing his next graphic novel, Holy Terror. The story follows a new character The Fixer as he takes on Al Qaeda. The story was originally conceived in the wake of 9-11 and was to star Batman. Miller decided he’d taken Batman as far as he could and instead decided a new character should take the lead.
The Fixer is a special ops adventurer who takes off after Al Qaeda after an attack on his city, the fictional Empire City, which resembles New York.
The story is almost complete and Miller will then seek a publisher.