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12 Dead After Attack on Offices of Satirical Newspaper in Paris

Paris

Twelve people (10 journalists and two police officers) have been confirmed dead and five injured after three gunmen opened fire this morning on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this morning. The attackers fled in a vehicle they carjacked and are still at large.

TIME reports:

A police spokesman told reporters the dead included ten journalists and two police officers, adding that five people were seriously injured. Earlier, Luc Poignard, a police union official, said two attackers escaped in two vehicles after opening fire at Charlie Hebdo. Witnesses said the gunmen headed to one of the exits of the city center, with the police in pursuit.

Rocco Contento, a spokesman for the Unité police union, told reporters that three attackers got into a getaway car driven by a fourth man on fleeing the building and drove to Port de Pantin in north-east Paris, where they abandoned the first car and hijacked a second – turning the driver out into the road.

The magazine was hit with a petrol bomb attack in 2011 after announcing that the Prophet Muhammed would be 'editor-in-chief' of its next issue. According to The Guardian, the paper's most recent tweet and its current cover concerned Islamism.

The paper's current editor-in-chief was in London today at the time of the attacks, according to the Press Association.

Videos and tweets (some graphic) showing the attackers began appearing online shortly after the attacks.

A tweet from a French journalist allegedly showed the gunmen outside the offices:

Four among those killed have been named by media sources, but not confirmed officially, according to the Guardian -

They are the magazine’s editor and cartoonist, Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb; and three other cartoonists: Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous. The Guardian is awaiting official confirmation of these names.

President Francois Hollande condemned the attack:

As did President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Said Obama:

I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America's oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world. Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.

Said Merkel:

This abominable act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and their security. It is also an attack on freedom of speech and the press, core elements of our free democratic culture. In no way can this be justified.

The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie is being used online to show solidarity with the victims of the attack, according to The Guardian, and is currently trending worldwide...

The Guardian has a liveblog of events surrounding the attacks.


The Stunning Loophole that May Block Some of France's Same-Sex Couples from Marrying

Lise_agnieszkaAfter a nation-wide campaign that brought thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue out into the streets of Paris earlier this year, the French legislature approved a marriage equality bill by an overwhelming vote that was signed into law by President François Hollande the following month, making France the 14th state to allow same-sex couples to wed.

But some same-sex couples are discovering that they may be barred from marrying because of a quirk in French marital law, as RFI English reports:

Frenchwoman Lise and her Polish girlfriend Agnieszka have been together for three years. They were looking forward to getting married after France this year became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage, following months of bitter debate.

"We were also really happy because it meant that we were accepted by the society," Agnieszka said. "Then our relationship can be recognised, and we are not freaks or…"

"Different," Lise added.

But under a bilateral agreement signed between Poland and France in 1967, Agnieszka falls under Polish marriage law even while in France. Since Poland doesn’t recognise gay marriage, a French magistrate would have to overrule Polish law to approve the wedding.

Ten other countries fall into the same category as Poland for the purposes of French marriage law for same-sex couples: Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Kosovo, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia, Slovenia and Tunisia. In a memo issued last week to French civil servants, the justice ministry wrote, "When a marriage is planned between two people of the same sex, and one of the future spouses is a national of one of these countries, the civil registrar cannot perform the marriage." Requests from such couples must be denied and sent to a magistrate, who will determine if the couple can wed on a case-by-case basis.

Christiane Taubira, France's justice minister and a strong proponent of marriage equality, said she would consider reconsidering the rules regarding binational same-sex marriages so that officials aren't specifically instructed to refuse couples' requests.

Last month, a French-Moroccan same-sex couple's marriage request in the town of Chambéry was refused on the couple's wedding day--after friends and family had travelled from Morocco and Belgium to celebrate the occasion. The couple plans to challenge the decision in court, since France does not enforce another aspect of Morocco's marriage laws that prohibit Muslims from wedding non-Muslims who have not converted.

(photo courtesy of Kalvin Ng and RFI English)


Thousands Rally In Paris Against Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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In anticipation of the upcoming wedding ceremonies, tens of thousands of anti-gay marriage protesters rallied in central Paris earlier today. The Guardian reports on the march and the clashes between demonstrators and riot police:

At least 150,000 protesters converged on Paris, marshaled by more than 4,500 police who were deployed after the government warned of a risk of violence and disruption.

Riot police evicted about a dozen far-right activists who used ladders to climb on to the roof of the Socialist party headquarters and unfurled a banner saying "Hollande resign".

The night before the demonstration, 50 people were arrested after chaining themselves to metal barriers they had placed in the middle of the Champs Elysées and firing smoke canisters. A van carrying masks, banners and smoke bombs was seized by police.

The reform has sparked months of bitter political division over the issue. On Tuesday, a far-right historian shot himself at the altar of Notre Dame cathedral after leaving messages in which he denounced gay marriage.

The marriage equality law, signed by French president François Hollande last week, will go into effect on Wednesday. The move makes France the ninth country in Europe and the 14th globally to legalize marriage equality.

Watch a news report on the anti-gay protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thousands Rally In Paris Against Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


France's Parliament Approves Key Article in Marriage Equality Bill

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The French National Assembly has overwhelmingly approved the first and most important article in a bill that would bring marriage equality and allow gay people to adopt children in France. The article approved today centers on marriage.

According to the BBC, "Deputies voted 249-97 in favour of Article One of the draft law, which redefines marriage as being a contract between two people rather than necessarily between a man and a woman."

President Francois Hollande's bill has now overcome it's biggest hurdle and is predicted to pass. The Parliamentary debates, which began several days ago, will continue through next week before a final vote scheduled for February 12.


French Parliament Begins Debate on Marriage Equality Bill: VIDEO

France's government began a two-week debate on President Francois Hollande's bill that would allow gay people to marry and adopt children, France 24 reports:

HollandeBut key areas of the bill, which redefines marriage as "contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex”, have been dropped in a bid to appease opponents.

A clause that would allow same-sex couples access to medically-assisted fertility treatment has been left out – for the moment.

Plans to ditch the words "father" and "mother" from official documents – to be replaced by “parent 1” and “parent 2” have also been removed when it concerns heterosexual couples.

Marches for and against have brought hundreds of thousands into the streets of Paris in recent weeks.

Watch an Al Jazeera report on the recent demonstrations, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "French Parliament Begins Debate on Marriage Equality Bill: VIDEO" »


François Hollande Takes Heat for Inadequate Push for Full Equality for Gays in France

François Hollande is at the center of a storm in France and his lackluster support for the equality he once promised gay people means he has groups from both sides protesting his position in the streets. Gay rights groups are planning a new protest this weekend:

HollandeHollande's law is not just about gay marriage but also adoption for gay couples, which is still illegal in France and remains controversial. The proposed law would only allow gay couples the right to adopt if they were married, not in a civil partnership – a distinction that has rung alarm bells among equality groups.

The law would not give automatic joint parenting rights to gay couples who had a child together, nor would it allow medically assisted procreation or IVF. This would give French gay people far fewer rights than those in the UK, and leave a stark inequality between gay and straight couples which has infuriated many on the left.

Socialists and gay campaigners will take to the streets on Sunday for a demonstration which they hope will counter the outpouring of opposition to gay marriage and adoption from the right and certain key figures in the Roman Catholic church.


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