8 Jan 2015

Who are the Charlie Hebdo victims?

The twelve people who died in the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices include some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists.

The victims are understood to have been in an editorial meeting when the gunmen attacked with Kalashnikovs. Around the world people have shown their support for the magazine, and cartoonists have paid tribute to the controversial publication.

What do we know about the victims?


Stephane 'Charb' Charbonnier

Stephane Charbonnier, known as a cartoonist under the name of “Charb”, appears to have been the main target of the attackers.

The attackers are reported to have asked for Charbonnier by name, and he is reported to have been the first killed.

I would prefer to die on my feet rather than live on my knees. Stephane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier

Charbonnier, 48, was editor of the magazine and a staunch defender of the satirical magazine’s controversial cartoons.

Following the 2011 firebomb attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices Charb and two of his colleagues were placed under police protection.

The next week Charlie Hebdo published a front page cartoon of a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist passionately kissing a Muslim man in front of the attack debris, with the caption “Love is stronger than hate”.

He was named as an al-Qaeda target in a list published in the terror group’s magazine Inspire in 2013.

Charb had said he was not afraid of reprisals, and in an interview in 2012 said: “It might sound a bit pompous, but I would prefer to die on my feet rather than live on my knees.”


Jean 'Cabu' Cabut

Another of Charlie Hebdo’s most famous artists, lead cartoonist Jean “Cabu” Cabut, was killed after Charb.

Cabu, who was 76, was celebrated for a number of his characters – particularly Mon Beauf – a caricature of an ignorant, racist, sexist Frenchman – that the term (a shortened version of the French for “brother-in-law”) has passed into common usage.

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In 2006 his cartoon in response to the Danish cartoons controversy, which depicted the Prophet Muhammad sobbing under the caption “Mohammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”, resulted in a lawsuit for the magazine.

Cabu spent two years conscripted into the French army, during the 1954 Algerian war – an experience that contributed to his anti-militaristic outlook.

His work was a part of every day life in France, featuring on books and album covers, and in a major exhibition at the Hotel de Ville in 2006-2007.


Georges Wolinski

Le Monde has called Georges Wolinski “a living embodiment of the freedom of the press”.

The 80-year-old, Tunisian born, began cartooning in 1960 with political and erotic contributions to Hara-Kiri, a magazine founded by Cabu.

At his death he was one of the most celebrated caricaturists in France and a “spiritual father” to many cartoonists.

In a previous interview Wolinski was asked about his own death, and said: “I want to be cremated. I said to my wife, you throw the ashes in the toilet so I see your ass every day.”


Bernard Velhac 'Tignous' Velhac

Bernard Velhac, known as Tignous (meaning “little pest”) was a member of the group Cartoonists for Peace.

He once said of his membership: “I would love to think that every time I make a drawing it prevents a kidnapping, a murder, or removes a land mine.

“What joy it would be! If I had that power I would stop sleeping and would make drawings non-stop.”

Born in Paris in 1957, he was known for his attacks on market capitalism, and his stinging cartoons of former French president Nicholas Sarkozy – including those in his last book “Five years under Sarkozy”.

Bernard Maris

An economist, writer and shareholder in Charlie Hebdo, Bernard Maris wrote a column for Charlie hebdo under the pseudonym “Oncle Bernard”.

He was a member of the Bank of France’s General Council and wrote for various titles including Le Monde and Le Figaro and was a regular on radio and television.

The 68-year-old was also a professor at the Institute of European Studies at the University of Paris-VIII.

Philippe Honore

The author of the final cartoon to be tweeted from Charlie Hebdo’s Twitter account – mocking the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – was also killed in the attack.

Honore, 73, was a staff cartoonist who was first published at the age of 16 and had worked at Charlie Hebdo since 1992.

Mustapha Ourad

The Charlie Hebdo copy editor moved to France from Algeria when he was 20. According to Le Monde he was self-taught after making the trip to France.

Le Monde quoted his friends as saying they were “destroyed” by the loss of a “beloved man”.

Elsa Cayat

The only woman killed in the attack was an author and psychoanalyst who wrote a bi-monthly column for Charlie Hebdo.

Journalist Philippe Leroy posted a picture of Cayat on Twitter, calling her a “exceptional friend”.

Michel Renaud

Renaud was visiting the offices of Charlie Hebdo to discuss a project he was working on with his friend Cabu. It is understood he had been asked to join the editorial meeting.

He was a former chief of staff for the mayor of Clermont Ferrand, journalist and keen traveller.

Frederic Boisseau

The maintenance worker, a 42-year-old father of two, was working at the building. It has been reported that Boisseau was killed after the gunmen asked him for the location of the editorial team.

Boisseau worked for Sodexo group, which called the attack “tragic, unjust and terrible”.

Ahmed Merabat

Merabat was the first police officer named among the deceased in Wednesday’s attack. He was killed outside the Charlie Hebdo building after encountering the gunmen as he patrolled.

Footage released on social media on Wednesday showed a police officer being shot at close range by attackers on the street – but it is not confirmed if this was Merabat.

He leaves behind a wife.

Social media users have noted that Merabat died defending Charlie Hebdo’s right to satirise his own religion, adapting the motto #JeSuisCharlie to #JeSuisAhmed.

Franck Brinsolaro

Brinsolaro was a member of the special protection service, and had been assigned to Charlie Hebdo’s editor Charb.

His colleagues told Le Figaro that he leaves behind a wife and a young daughter.