Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama swiftly condemned Wednesday’s attack on the headquarters of a French satirical newspaper as a violent act against not just individuals, but the idea of freedom of speech in the civilized world.
Obama, who called the killings “cowardly” and “evil,” vowed that his administration would help France “hunt down” the perpetrators of the attack that killed at least 12 people and bring them to justice.
“For us to see the kind of cowardly, evil attacks that took place today, I think reinforces once again why it’s so important for us to stand in solidarity with them just as they stand in solidarity with us,” he said.
Obama added that he had reached out to French President Francois Hollande and hoped to speak with him later Wednesday, calling France one of America’s “oldest” and “strongest” allies.
Speaking during an Oval Office meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama added, “The fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press, also underscores that these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
Earlier on Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. would be working with its French counterparts to determine exactly who was behind the shooting and what the motivation was.
Earnest would not use the word “terrorism” to describe the attack, but when asked by CNN about Hollande’s use of that term, Earnest replied, “Based on what we know right now it does seem like that’s what we’re confronting here.”
Meanwhile, Kerry condemned the “murderous” attack on Charlie Hebdo, which had most recently received notoriety for publishing characters of the prophet Mohammed.
“The murderers dared proclaim, ‘Charlie Hebdo is dead.’ But, make no mistake. They are wrong… no matter what your feelings were about it, the freedom of expression that it represented is not able to be killed by this kind of act of terror,” Kerry said.
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