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The Charlie Hebdo Attack: Contexts and Implications

Panelists Omid Safi, Helen Solterer, and Céline Flécheux
January 20th, 2015
12:00 PM


On Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, the Forum for Scholars and Publics held a discussion of the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, as well as the subsequent hostage taking and killings at the Hyper Cacher market, in Paris. Panelists Omid Safi and Helen Solterer of Duke University, and Céline Flécheux of the Department of Visual Studies at Université de Paris VII-Diderot explored the broader contexts necessary for understanding the attacks and the reaction to them, as well as the potential implications on politics and culture in France and beyond. 

Co-Sponsored with Duke Islamic Studies and the Center for French and Francophone Studies


An account (in French) of the Charlie Hebdo attack from one its victims, Philippe Lançon (a 2009 Media Fellow at the Duke Center for French and Francophone Studies and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy)

George Packer in The New Yorker, and the response from Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books.




Omid Safi

Duke University Islamic Studies

Omid Safi is a specialist in classical Islam and contemporary Islamic thought, Safi’s research on American Muslims; Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an; debates in contemporary Islam; and Sufism and Persian literature has been published in academic publications. His forthcoming books include “Makers of Modern Iran” and “Rumi: Sufi Saint, American Icon. Safi has also been a frequent speaker on Islam in popular media, including in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, NBC and international media. He also is active on social media and as a blogger, is a lead Islam writer for the Huffington Post, and his column “What Would Muhammad Do?” has been a regular Religion News Service feature.

Helen Solterer

Duke University Center for French and Francophone Studies

Helen Solterer's research focuses on pre-modern literature and culture, and its interplay with twentieth-century and contemporary thought. Her last book, Medieval Roles for Modern Times, investigates the politics and aesthetics of reviving the earliest drama during two World Wars. She is currently working on two books: “Timely Fictions” on the multiple times and places of pre-modern theater, poetry, pictorial narrative; and “Love to Hate: A Premodern Legacy?” on hate speech and fiction. As Director of the French and Francophone Studies, she coordinates the initiative, “Francophone Digital Humanities”, that received a major grant from the Embassy of France. Over the past fifteen years, she has regularly taught a course on the Franco-American History of Freedom of Speech.

Céline Flécheux

Université Paris-VI Diderot

Agrégée et docteur en philosophie, ayant suivi en parallèle un cursus en histoire de l’art à l’université Paris-X-Nanterre, Céline Flécheux est maître de conférences en esthétique à l’Université Paris-Diderot (UFR LAC). Elle s'occupe de l’option « Image » dans le parcours Lettres et Arts, dont elle est la co-responsable. Elle fait partie, au sein de l’équipe de recherche du CERILAC, de la composante TLESH, où elle a intervient en tant que spécialiste des questions artistiques et esthétiques. Ses travaux portent notamment sur la question de l’horizon dans les arts et en philosophie, sur la perspective et sur la notion d’arts visuels. Elle collabore régulièrement à des revues d’art moderne et contemporain et à des catalogues d’exposition ou des monographies d’artistes.