Parisians react to attack near former Charlie Hebdo offices | France

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Paris, France – Two people are treated after being stabbed in front of the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in eastern Paris.The victims of Friday afternoon’s attack, a man and a woman, work for a media production company called Premieres Ligne.

The company took over offices in 2015 following the deadly assault in January of that year against Charlie Hebdo staff, which killed 12 people.

Speaking from the scene on Friday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the injuries to the victims were not fatal.

Two men were arrested nearby about an hour after the stabbing. Five other people were later arrested on suspicion of helping to plan the attack.

France’s National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) has opened an investigation, citing the location and timing of the attacks as key factors in its suspicion of terrorism.

“In view of the place of the attack, in front of the building where Charlie’s editorial staff had previously been installed,” the incident was being investigated as a possible terrorist attack, declared the Paris prosecutor, Rémy Hertz.

The violence comes three weeks after the start of a high-profile trial that accuses 14 people of helping attackers with the logistics of the Charlie Hebdo attack, as well as an attack on a kosher supermarket in which four people were killed.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex arrives at the scene of a knife attack near the former offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris [Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters]

A new normal

For Parisians, the stab wounds represent the latest in a series of attacks in recent years that have reshaped the country.

“It’s become ‘normal’,” Jules Rotivel, a 21-year-old student whose school is close to the offices, told Al Jazeera. “It’s happened before, and it will happen again … but that doesn’t mean we should stop living our lives.”

Laetitia Nassah, a 36-year-old schoolteacher who works beside desks, expressed similar feelings.

“It’s hard to admit, but it’s something I think we’ve all got used to,” Nassah told Al Jazeera.

In a statement, former French President Francois Hollande said terrorism remained a “major threat” to the country.

“Once again, it is the republic that is struck,” Hollande said. “But as has been done before, he will show the strength of his values ​​and the firmness of his response. ”

Friday’s violence follows a string of new threats against Charlie Hebdo. The magazine received threats from al Qaeda earlier this month after reposting cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

Charlie Hebdo’s human resources manager Marika Bret was forced to leave her home 12 days ago after receiving several serious threats. Bret has been living under police protection since the January 2015 attacks.

The threats sparked a new wave of support for the magazine in France as well as for freedom of expression in general.

An Ifop poll released the day before the trial began revealed that 59 percent of people support Charlie Hebdo’s decision to repost the cartoons “in the name of free speech.”

Earlier this week, more than 100 French media also signed an open letter in defense of Charlie Hebdo and in favor of freedom of expression.

“The laws of our country provide each of us with a framework that allows us to speak, write and draw like few other places in the world,” the letter read.

“Let us recall here, in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, which paid for its freedom with the blood of its collaborators, that in France the crime of blasphemy does not exist.



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