Three Tunisians are reportedly among the 17 killed in last week’s attacks in Paris. Georges Wolinski, 80, and Elsa Cayet, 54, were killed when gunmen stormed satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters, while 21 year-old Yoav Hattab was a victim of the related supermarket hostage crisis that took place soon afterwards. All three of these victims were Jewish, coming from a Jewish community that has peacefully inhabited Tunisia for centuries.
Muslims around the world have been expressing their sympathies for the victims of the attacks in Paris, disassociating themselves from the killers and stressing that such radicals do not represent the peaceful and tolerant values of their religion.
Born in France to an Algerian family, Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet has been adopted by many as a symbol of true Islamic values. A stark contrast to his killers who claim to have been murdering in the name of Islam, Merabet gave his life for people working for an organization strongly critical of certain tenets of his religion.
Since the original emergence of the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, Merabet’s actions and identity have prompted popularity for #JeSuisAhmed, used by many to commend his heroism.
I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so. #JesuisAhmed
— Dyab Abou Jahjah (@Aboujahjah) January 8, 2015
Although no organization has officially claimed responsibility for the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, during the incident one of the gunmen allegedly claimed “you can tell the media it was Al-Qaeda in Yemen.” Links have also been reported between one of the gunmen, Cherif Kouachi, and Boubaker al-Hakim, an ISIS supporter who claimed to be behind the assassinations of Tunisian politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi in 2013. The two were both arrested in 2008 for being part of a network that helped to send fighters from Europe to join Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Update: Tunisia Live originally reported a statement by Tunisia’s Ambassador to France that Merabet was Tunisian, yet other accounts have now emerged identifying him as Algerian. This article has also been updated to include new information revealed about Hattab and Cayet.