7 Jan 2015

Charlie Hebdo attacks: a timeline of recent events

The attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices – killing at least 12 people – is the latest and bloodiest in a series of events of increasing tensions in France.

February 2006

Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon showing the prophet Muhammad weeping and saying “it’s hard being loved by idiots”. The magazine also re-published controversial cartoons from the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten which depicted the prophet Muhammad.

The Danish cartoons led former French president Jacques Chirac to accuse the paper of “overt provocations”.

February 2007

An attempt was made by French Muslim groups to sue Charlie Hebdo’s publisher Phillipe Val over the cartoons for “publicly insulting Islam” in what Mr Val described as a “witch hunt”.

The French courts cleared the paper of “racial insults” and threw out the lawsuit in March 2007.

September 2010

The French senate passed a parliamentary act “prohibiting concealment of the face in public space”.

Al-Qaeda threatened to “take revenge” on France for banning the veil.

November 2011

Charlie Hebdo published a special edition of their magazine called Sharia Hebdo and named the prophet Muhammed as the “editor-in-chief” for the issue.

Charlie Hebdo’s offices were destroyed in a petrol bomb attack the day after its release. Its website was also targeted by hackers. The magazine responded by publishing a front-page picture of a gay kiss between a Muslim man and one of its journalists.

Read more: Gun attack on French satirical magazine kills at least 12

March 2012

Mohamed Mera, a lone gunman of Algerian descent claiming links to al-Qaeda, killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, southern France. He was shot dead by a police sniper in a stand-off several days later.

September 2012

Charlie Hebdo published cartoons depicting a naked prophet Muhammad, leading to the closure of French schools, embassies, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries.

Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in Wednesday’s attack, responded to the situation by saying: “The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves… and a drawing has never killed anyone.”

January 2013

The magazine published a cartoon biography called The Life of Muhammad which depicted a caricature of the prophet leading a camel through the desert.

Charbonnier insisted that “higher-minded Muslims” would not find the cartoons inappropriate. Al-Qaeda then publish Charbonnier’s name on their wanted list in the March 2013 issue of their Inspire propaganda magazine.

September 2014

France carried out their first airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. In response an IS spokesman threatens attacks on France.

In a video published by the group in October 2014 a French IS fighter says: “We are issuing an invitation to all the (Muslim) brothers who are currently living in France to kill any (non-Muslim) civilians there.”

December 2014

French police shot dead a French citizen and suspected Islamist extremist who wounded three officers in a police station in Tours.

The following day thirteen people were injured after a car mowed down pedestrians in Dijon. The driver was reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the greatest”).

French police announce that they will step-up their presence in public areas.