Charlie Hebdo Survivor: Gunmen Said ‘Allahu Akbar’, Then Shot Me

September 9, 2020 Updated: September 9, 2020

PARIS—A survivor of the 2015 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo told a French court on Wednesday how the terrorist said “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest”), then shot him with their Kalashnikov rifles.

Simon Fieschi was the first employee the two Islamic terrorists encountered when they entered the magazine’s Paris offices. He said that after being shot he lost consciousness, and the terrorists moved on to other targets.

“It was all very quick for me,” said Fieschi, 36, who limped to the witness box using a crutch but declined an offer to take a seat, saying he preferred to testify standing.

“I remember the door opening violently, and gunshots. I remember a man who said: ‘Allahu akbar,’ and then, ‘We don’t kill women’,” said Fieschi, who was in charge of the magazine’s digital platforms.

“I lost consciousness, which is without doubt what saved my life,” he said. One bullet went into his neck and damaged his spinal column, leaving him with constant pain and reduced mobility.

Fieschi was speaking in the second week of a trial of 14 alleged accomplices of the Islamist terrorists who targeted French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, killing 17 people. The terrorists themselves are dead.

The magazine was targeted by Islamist extremists, according to prosecutors, because it had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemous by Muslims.

On the day of the attack, when Fieschi regained consciousness, the shooting had already finished and many of his colleagues lay dead, or wounded. It was not until much later that he was told what had happened to his co-workers.

“The image that stays with me is of a trail of blood in the corridor leading to the newsroom,” he said in court. “At the time I didn’t really understand what it meant.”