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PARIS TERROR ATTACK

TERRORISM

Swiss dailies condemn Paris terror attack

The terror attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine employees in Paris that left 12 people dead dominated the front pages of Swiss newspapers on Thursday.

Swiss dailies condemn Paris terror attack

And editorialists for the papers joined those from journals around the world in condemning the assault with machine guns that killed well-known French cartoonists, artists and journalists from the satirical weekly.

This went beyond a mere massacre of individuals “to assassinate freedom of expression and annihilate the values of democracy”, an editorial in Le Temps said of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, known for its irreverent lampooning of Muslim and other religious extremism.

“The terrorists wanted not only to perpetrate an inhumane act but also to create chaos,” the editorial said.

“What can a pencil do against rocket launchers?”

The editorial went on to say that while democracy is in mourning it should not shy away from the challenges.

“It’s up to all us to show the terrorists who wanted to kill Charlie Hebdo that we are all Charlie.”

Other Swiss newspapers carried editorials with a similar theme.

The German-language Basler Zeitung simply printed the Twitter hashtag #JeSuisCharlie in the centre of its otherwise blank front page.

Le Matin ran a cartoon showed a fist clenching a pencil defiantly rising from a blood-soaked Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Although the circulation of the magazine is small, the publication is widely known in French-speaking Switzerland.

CHECK HERE FOR A SAMPLE OF SWISS NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGES

Many newspapers from western Switzerland ran their own cartoons to comment on the attack.

Chapatte, cartoonist for Le Temps, sketched one for the front page of the paper that shows a gravestone cross inscribed with with the words “Morts de rire” (they died laughing).

The Paris attack was also widely covered — and condemned editorially — by German-language newspapers in Switzerland.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung urged a “constitutionally correct” response to the assassinations through the rule of law and not through bloodthirsty revenge.

Many commentators expressed concern that tensions between the West and the Islamic world would be further exacerbated by the terror attack.

See also: PARIS ON EDGE AFTER SECOND ATTACK

“The extermination of a newspaper office in the middle of Europe is a new sad and climax to the brutal policies of extremist Koran followers,” a commentary in the Basler Zeitung said.

“It is a frontal attack on the freedom of expression, the heart of Western culture.”

The Blick tabloid took a similar position, headlining an “attack on freedom”.

The killings were an attack on the values of the West — “liberalism and individualism, democracy and press freedom,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

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UPDATE: Woman jailed for nine years for knife attack on Swiss shoppers

In a rare case of alleged Islamist "terrorism" in Switzerland, a woman was jailed for nine years on Monday for the brutal knife attack on two shoppers at an upscale department store.

UPDATE: Woman jailed for nine years for knife attack on Swiss shoppers

A Swiss woman accused of slashing two people in the name of the Islamic State group in an upmarket shop
was sentenced on Monday to nine years prison coupled with psychiatric treatment.

The criminal court judges found the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, guilty of two counts of attempted murder, and of violating the Swiss laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related Islamist groups.

The woman, who has not been named, tried to slit the throats of two women shopping at the Manor store in Lugano, in Switzerland’s southern, Italian-speaking Ticino region on November 24, 2020.

The attacker, 28 at the time, was accused of committing a “jihadist knife attack” and had “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS” (the Islamic State group), the attorney general’s office said earlier this year.

Random victims

On the day of the attack, the woman had gone to Manor’s kitchen supply division on the fifth floor, picked out a large bread knife and approached a random woman standing nearby.

Grabbing her from behind, the assailant plunged the knife at least 10 centimetres into her throat, missing her main carotid artery “by a few millimetres”, the court heard. 

As she screamed “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) and “I will avenge the Prophet Mohammed”, she struck the victim to the ground, and then moved on to a second woman, stabbing the knife towards her face and shouting “I am here for
Isis”.

The second woman suffered defensive wounds to her right hand, but managed with help from others to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness,” prosecutors said, maintaining that she had acted “with the aim of killing (her victims) and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’.”

Mental health problems

Police quickly discovered the alleged assailant had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

After “falling in love” over social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria, she had attempted in 2017 to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, but was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, it is alleged.

Upon her return, she was deemed to have mental health problems. She was admitted to a psychiatric clinic and fell off the security police radar until the attack three years later, police said.

The assailant had reportedly once been married to a Muslim asylum seeker and had converted to Islam.

‘Very rare’

Experts said the trial marked a rare event, pointing out that such attacks are almost unheard of in the wealthy Alpine country.

Switzerland has never experienced a large-scale terror attack, though it did suffer two other individual knife attacks in 2020 by people with suspected jihadist ties.

“In Switzerland, it’s been very random and very rare that we have people that conduct terrorist attacks,” Christina Schori Liang, a terrorism expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, told AFP.

It is even rarer that the alleged jihadist attacker is a woman.

“Isis has never claimed an attack carried out by a woman,” Damien Ferre, founder of the Jihad Analytics group which analyses global and cyber jihad, told AFP.

While there were reports of women carrying out attacks in the battle for Mosul in Iraq in 2004, he stressed that “it was never proven and the group did not communicate about it.”

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