Paris shooting: Girlfriend of Charlie Hebdo's murdered editor feared he would be targeted

A file photo taken on Dec 27, 2012 in Paris shows Charlie Hebdo's murdered editor Stephane Charbonnier - nicknamed Charb - in the newspaper's offices. -- PHOTO: AFP
A file photo taken on Dec 27, 2012 in Paris shows Charlie Hebdo's murdered editor Stephane Charbonnier - nicknamed Charb - in the newspaper's offices. -- PHOTO: AFP
Jeannette Bougrab, the girlfriend of murdered Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier in a screenshot from an interview with France's BMFTV. She told the channel: "I pleaded with him to leave France but he wouldn't. My partner is dead - murdered because he did drawings in a newspaper." -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE

The devastated girlfriend of the Charlie Hebdo's murdered editor Stephane Charbonnier - nicknamed Charb - has told French TV that she always feared he would be targeted.

Jeannette Bougrab, 41, lived with Charbonnier for three years until he was killed in Wednesday's attack on the satirical French magazine.

Paying tribute to his idealism, she said she believed, as he did, in what he was doing.

She told French news channel TF1: "I haven't lost Charlie Hebdo, I've lost a loved one.

"I'm not here as a former government minister but as a woman who's lost her man - murdered by barbarians.

"I admired him before I fell in love with him and I loved him because he was like that, because he defied things.

"He saw life as a small thing when you need to defend your ideals.

"Do you know people today who would die for their ideas? No. Because they've just died. They've just been murdered. And they didn't do anything."

And she believes in what he spent his life doing so much she would exchange places with him.

"I wish I could be in his place and give my life rather than it be him that has gone. I wish I could take his place so he could keep fighting."

Ms Bougrab, a lawyer, revealed she always feared her lover would be murdered - just as Dutch cartoonist Theo Van Gogh was in 2004, according to Britain's Daily Mirror.

He had been particularly threatened since publishing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in November 2011.

In a second interview with BFMTV, she said: "I always felt he was going to die like Theo Van Gogh.

"I pleaded with him to leave France but he wouldn't. My partner is dead - murdered because he did drawings in a newspaper.

"He died standing up for what he believed in. They died so we could remain free in France.

"He defended secularism. He defended the spirit of Voltaire. He, in fact, was really the embodiment of this ideal of the Republic we've almost forgotten.

"He died, executed with his comrades, as he would call them.

"If I was President I'd give them the Pantheon."

Situated in the Latin quarter of Paris, the Pantheon is the burial place of France's 'great men'.

Ms Bougrab, a lawyer, former French Secretary for Youth and Community Life and now a member French National Council of State, was told of the shooting during a state meeting.

She sent a flurry of text messages and phone calls as she desperately tried to contact Mr Charbonnier, the Mirror said..

Ms Bougrab told BFMTV: "I sent him a text, a second text, a third text - then I phoned him. He wasn't answering and he never did that.

"When I got there we weren't allowed to get in through the cordons. I learned there he was dead."

And she paid tribute to the Charlie Hebdo staff who lost their lives on Wednesday in the massacre which left 12 dead - including five cartoonists, two police officers

"They were exceptional people, real heroes. I was with a hero I admired. We were totally different politically but he told me I was a Communist who was in denial."

The hunt for the two brothers suspected of launching the attack, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, has continued today with a police chase up the N2 motorway toward Charles de Gaulle airport, followed by a siege with hostages taken. There has been a second siege at kosher grocery in eastern Paris, linked to yesterday's murder of a policewoman.

Wednesday's attack on the satirical newspaper led to an outpouring of support around the world as the Je Suis Charlie message went viral.

But Ms Bougrab cannot see it as a sign of victory or hope because her partner has lost his life, and it offers her little comfort.

She said: "Absolutely not, because he's dead. It's absolutely not a victory. It's a defeat.

"It's a tragedy for our country and I cannot take joy from the idea people are demonstrating in the streets because they have torn away the precious being who was my companion in life."

The daughter of Algerian immigrants , Ms Bougrab served under Nicolas Sarkozy and has been described as a 'hard secularist'.

She has not been afraid to criticise religion, particularly Islam. She and Mr Charbonnier both supported France's strong separation of religion and state.

And she warned the lines are less clear in the battles fought in the modern world.

She said: "War today is not a war that is declared. I'm not convinced the measures and legislation available to us today are enough.

"Today the internet and Twitter help hatred spread where anonymous people can decide on fatwas - who lives and who dies - and we haven't necessarily taken appropriate steps.

"I spent 17 days in Pakistan and nothing happened to me, but now in France, where we tell others how to do things, my partner is dead, murdered because he did drawings in a newspaper.

"I would just like somebody to explain what is happening in France. I think some people won't follow the adventures of Charlie because they are terrorised, because they fear for their lives and they know that today in France when you take up a pencil you may be killed. That's what is happening in France today."

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