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On 7 January 2015, Said and Chérif Kouachi assaulted the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, leaving 12 people dead. The terrorist attack soon became a highly symbolic event, reflecting the core struggle between free speech and religious values that escalated after the 'cartoon crisis' in 2005. In this article, we wish to explore media discourses in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack in three European countries &- Spain, Norway and the United Kingdom. In particular, we investigate if and how journalism performed their role as 'vital centre' in the 'civil sphere'. We find that the patterns of in-group and out-group were carefully constructed to avoid polarization between 'ordinary' Muslims and the West in most newspapers. By doing so, most of the newspapers managed to work for the construction of an idealized civil sphere that exists beyond race, nationality or religion.
Charlie Hedbo, civil sphere, journalism, solidarity, vital centre