HUFFINGTON POST

Muslim Policeman Killed In Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack

Pens are held in the air as people gather in Trafalgar Square in central London to show their respect for the twelve people k
Pens are held in the air as people gather in Trafalgar Square in central London to show their respect for the twelve people killed in Paris today in a terrorist attack at the headquarters of satirical publication 'Charlie Hebdo' on January 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- A Muslim police officer was among the victims of the terrorist attack carried out on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris Wednesday.

Ahmed Merabet, 42, has been identified as one of the 12 individuals killed in the attack. He was reportedly patrolling outside the building when the attack took place.

According to The Associated Press, Merabet is the Muslim son of immigrants from North Africa. A police union official said he did not know whether Merabet actively practiced the faith.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also pointed out Merabet's background to reporters Thursday.

"He himself was a Muslim," Ban said. "This is another reminder of we're facing together. This is not a war on religion. ... It is an assault on our common humanity."

France is on high alert after the attack, in which two masked gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo's offices and opened fire. A nationwide manhunt for the killers, who remain at large, is now underway.

Police have identified Cherif and Said Kouachi, two brothers aged 32 and 34, respectively, as the main suspects.

Witnesses remember the attackers yelling "Allahu akbar!" ("God is great" in Arabic) and "We have avenged the prophet." Corinne Rey, a cartoonist who was in the newspaper's office during the attack, said the two men spoke French and alleged that they were part of al Qaeda.

Charlie Hebdo has frequently faced criticism over the years for publishing cartoons that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad, as well as Catholics, Jews and French politicians.

Muslims around the world swiftly condemned the terrorist attack Wednesday. The Grand Mosque of Paris -- one of the largest in France -- issued a statement saying its community was "shocked" and "horrified" by what happened.

"Their barbarism has nothing to do with Islam," Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris's Seine-Saint-Denis suburb, told BFM TV.

On Twitter, mourners have been using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie ("I am Charlie") in the aftermath of the attack, as well as #JeSuisAhmed ("I am Ahmed") to memorialize Merabet.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 201
    ANNE GELBARD via Getty Images
    Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015.
  • An injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 20
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    An injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
  • French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira reacts outside of the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
    KENZO TRIBOUILLARD via Getty Images
    French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira reacts outside of the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015.
  • A photo taken on January 7, 2015 shows a police car riddled with bullets during an attack on the offices of the newspaper Cha
    STR via Getty Images
    A photo taken on January 7, 2015 shows a police car riddled with bullets during an attack on the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
  • French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical n
    DOMINIQUE FAGET via Getty Images
    French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, on January 7, 2015 in Paris.
  • French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon (R) reacts outside of the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie He
    KENZO TRIBOUILLARD via Getty Images
    French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon (R) reacts outside of the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, after armed gunmen stormed the offices leaving twelve dead.
  • French President Francois Hollande, center, flanked with security forces arrives outside the French satirical newspaper Charl
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    French President Francois Hollande, center, flanked with security forces arrives outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
  • French former Youth and Associations Junior minister Jeannette Bougrab (C) is comforted by an unidentified person outside of
    KENZO TRIBOUILLARD via Getty Images
    French former Youth and Associations Junior minister Jeannette Bougrab (C) is comforted by an unidentified person outside of the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015.
  • People hug each other outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    People hug each other outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
  •  Police officers take security measures near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Police officers take security measures near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015.
  • Ambulances and police gather at Charlie Hebdo offices after a deadly attack on the french satirical magazine on January 7, 20
    Aurelien Meunier via Getty Images
    Ambulances and police gather at Charlie Hebdo offices after a deadly attack on the french satirical magazine on January 7, 2015 in Paris, France.
CONVERSATIONS