Remembering 'Charlie Hebdo's Best Cartoons

by Alicia Lu

On Wednesday, two masked gunmen attacked French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo , killing 12 people and injuring at least 10. The leftist, anti-religion weekly is known for its unapologetically controversial cartoons that satirized everyone from Jesus to Francois Hollande to Gérard Depardieu. Apparently, it was Charlie Hebdo's depiction of the prophet Mohammed that prompted Wednesday's attack. This wasn't the first time Charlie Hebdo was targeted for its content — but even when threatened, the newspaper has never compromised its mission to satirize, as its body of work can attest.

According to witnesses, the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar!" as they charged into the newspaper's building. After the attack, French journalist Gilles Klein tweeted a video showing the gunmen in the street shouting, "We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed. We have killed Charlie Hebdo."

Wednesday's attack was not the first on Charlie Hebdo's offices. In November 2011, the building was fire-bombed the day after it published a caricature of Mohammed on its cover saying, "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!" The staff was very aware of the potential risks of publishing such controversial content: the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was killed in Wednesday's attack, was one of nine men on Al Qaeda's most wanted list, which was printed in its Inspire magazine. Charbonnier reportedly had been under special police protection since 2012.

Despite the constant threat of danger, Charlie Hebdo has always stayed true to itself, oftentimes responding to criticism by deliberately upping its satire.

Charbonnier, who was known as Charb, told Reuters in 2012:

When we attack the Catholic hard right...nobody talks about it in the papers. It's as if Charie Hebdo has official authorisation to attack the Catholic hard right. But we are not allowed to make fun of Muslim hardliners. It's the new rule...but we will not obey it.

The best way to honor the newspaper's unwavering mission? A look back at some of the newspapers best cartoons.

Many are tweeting the newspaper's cartoons to honor the cartoonists who were killed and to reiterate their message.

That last cartoon was the last thing the newspaper tweeted. It depicts ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with the caption, "Best wishes, by the way."

In this week's edition of Charlie Hebdo, one cartoon eerily foreshadows the attack. Its caption reads: "Still no attacks in France. Wait! We have until the end of January to give our [New Year's] greetings."