Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, the Washington Square News. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

The world looked on in horror Wednesday as three gunmen carried out out a deadly attack on the Paris offices of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

At least 12 people were killed in the attack, including its editor, a cartoonist and two police officers. One of the police officers had been assigned to guard the deceased editor Stephane Charbonnier, also known as Charb, after he received threats.

The Catholic church, and French and world politicians were some of the publication's favorite punching bags. It also frequently aimed its satire at Islam, and its cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in particular caused trouble for Charlie Hebdo and its staff. The Associated Press reported that al-Qaeda published a threat to Charb in its magazine in 2013.

About 7.5 percent of France's population as of 2010 was Muslim, according to Pew. Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are against Islamic law, and Charlie Hebdo angered that community over the last decade as it repeatedly turned to Muhammad to denounce terrorists in its cartoons.

Here are some of the keys to understanding Charlie Hebdo's place in French journalism and its history as a lightning rod for Muslims.

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