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Islamic Attacks Having Chilling Effect on Journalists


The terrorist attack in Paris is a bleak reminder that Western values are under assault, with journalists being front and center in that battle.

As reporters try to exercise their freedom of speech, they're being killed in record numbers by Islamic jihadists and brutal regimes.

At Notre Dame in Paris, the bells toll, and around the world, demonstrations are taking place in support of the journalists murdered by Islamic terrorists at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that often poked fun at Islam.

From Moscow to San Francisco, signs read "Je Suis, Charlie" ("I Am Charlie").

In Washington, journalist Stephane Raynud De Fitte is stunned. He was in the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris just a day before the shooting.

"Just ordinary heroes fighting for liberty of the press. I'm really sad first, angry--really angry as well," de Fitte said.

The terrorist attack in France, as well as the gruesome beheadings of journalists in Syria and other Muslim hotbeds is having a chilling effect on the profession.

The BBC reported in August that 69 journalists had been killed in Syria alone in just two years, although many of them died in battle.

The threat is especially great for cartoonists.

At San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, satire is a central theme of the artwork. Mark Fiore has won a pulitzer prize for his.

"It's a fact that it's a visual medium and it can grab you instantly," Fiore said. "It's in a lot of ways more effective than the written word; and while this attack is incredibly high profile and incredibly terrible, there are cartoonists that are attacked every year."

Robert Rosenthal, director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, said it's all about intimidation.

"The Soviet Union under Stalin or the Nazis under Hitler or the Stasi in East Germany – what do they control? They control information. And who do they try to eliminate? Journalists or people who speak the truth," he said.

Meanwhile, in northwest Washington, D.C., flags at the French embassy fly at half-staff. For now, the Western world is angry and motivated.

"I'd like my government to do something about these extremist Muslims – not the whole Muslim world, but the extremists," one French demonstrator said.

Until then, more journalists will be killed, captured, or forced into hiding, while the West figures out how to cope with the assault on its deeply held values.

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