#JeSuisAhmed honours police officer murdered in Charlie Hebdo shooting
PARIS – The last of the 12 victims slain in the terror attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was a police officer — the son of immigrants from mainly Muslim North Africa — who was shot dead on the sidewalk by one of the assailants as they started their getaway.
Police officials identified him as Ahmed Merabet. As details about his death became known, a campaign of solidarity quickly caught fire on social media Thursday, using the phrase “Je Suis Ahmed” — I Am Ahmed. That echoed the campaign of support for the satirical newspaper that spread widely after the attack, using the slogan “Je Suis Charlie.”
Though support was widespread, there were also those concerned about singling out Merabet with the #JeSuisAhmed tag:
Merabet also drew attention at the United Nations.
“He himself was a Muslim,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters, though a police union official said he didn’t know whether Merabet was actively practicing the religion.
“This is yet another reminder of what we are facing together. It should never be seen as a war of religion, for religion, or on religion. It is an assault on our common humanity, designed to terrify and incite.”
French news reports gave varying ages for Merabet, though the police union to which he belonged said he was in his 30s. He reportedly had eight years of police service, and was assigned to the neighbourhood where Wednesday’s attack occurred.
Video footage taken by an onlooker that surfaced on the Internet after the attack appeared to show a wounded Merabet on the pavement, raising a hand as though appealing for mercy before he was fatally shot in the head by one of the three gunmen. During their attack on the newspaper office, the assailants had shouted “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — and police were investigating their possible ties to a Yemen-based terrorist group.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL VIEWERS. DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED.
Merabet was “very discreet and conscientious,” police union spokesman Rocco Contento told the newspaper Le Figaro. “We’re all extremely shocked.”
Merabet’s home town, the suburb of Livry-Gargan in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, announced Thursday that he and the other victims would be commemorated at a ceremony Sunday at the city hall.
The death of Merabet — with his North African origins — recalled a series of gun attacks in southern France in 2012 that killed three French paratroopers of North African descent, as well as several Jewish civilians.
WATCH: Dyab Abou Jahjah, the man behind the #JeSuisAhmed hashtag, talks about how the movement started with BC1 anchor Sonia Sunger.
With files from Global News.
Crary reported from New York. Associated Press writer Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.
© 2015 The Associated Press