The hashtag is named after terrorists Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and apes the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag that emerged in the wake of Wednesday’s murder of 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Many of those who initially used the pro-Kouachi hashtag were tweeting support for the terrorists, many in French, others in English and Arabic.
One said in English: “No matter how good your General is , you just can not win against people who desire death as you desire life.” Another tweeted, in French: “I am a Muslim and Kouachi represents me.”
Hashtags – words or phrases prefaced by the hash sign – enable people interested in a topic to find other people tweeting about the same thing.
By Friday, with the hashtag trending, typing ‘je suis’ into Twitter automatically brought up ‘Kouachi’ as a suggestion. However, by Friday it seemed that most of those using #JeSuisKouachi, far from supporting the terrorists were expressing disgust – with the perhaps unintended effect of pushing it up the Twitter rankings. None of the first ten results The Local brought up expressed support for the terrorists.
And despite this week's strong demonstrations of support for freedom of speech following the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, some on Twitter argued that this should not apply to supporters of terror: This user called on Twitter to block use of the tag:
Qu'attend twitter pour bloquer: #JeSuisKouachi alors qu'il le fait pour d'autres comptes? S'exprimer, ce n'est pas faire l'apologie du crime
— Djemila Benhabib (@djemilaben) January 9, 2015
Others expressing outrage included National Front vice president Florian Philippot and Marion Maréchal le Pen, MP and niece of the party’s leader Marine le Pen: ‘JeSuisKouachi is trending on Twitter and people say nothing, do nothing? But where do they live?’
— Florian Philippot (@f_philippot) January 9, 2015
Others used it to mock the presumed extremists behind the accounts for helping the police identify them. ‘Big up to the people preaching hate at #JeSuisKouachi and leaving themselves open to geo-location. Thanks for helping out!
Big up aux gens qui prêchent la haine sur #JeSuisKouachi et qui laisse ouvert leurs géo localisation. Merci de faciliter le travail!
— Goupil des bois (@Goupil_des_bois) January 10, 2015
Others noticed the irony of boosting a hashtag they wanted to denounce, but still found it hard to follow their own advice. The tweet below says ‘Fortunately, after verifying, almost all the tweets with #JeSuisKouachi are denouncing it! Stop talking about it to stop it!’:
Heureusement,après vérification,presque tout les tweet avec #JeSuisKouachi, sont là pour le dénoncer! Arrêtons d'en parler pour le stopper!
— Kratos ✏ (@Kuratosu44) January 10, 2015