THE appalling murders in Paris were the ultimate attack on free speech.

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was proud of its reputation for lampooning every religion and institution, daring to print cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

However, under Islam, it is forbidden to depict the prophet and the magazine became a target.

Chillingly, the two Islamist terrorists called for their victims by name after forcing their way into the office.

The editor, staff and cartoonists attending the morning conference were gunned down in cold blood. The magazine had ‘offended’ more than once, reprinting the notorious Danish cartoons of the prophet in 2006.

After publishing more caricatures, they survived death threats and a fire bombing in 2011.

In a court case, the magazine’s legal right to freedom of expression was upheld.

An eyewitness during Wednesday’s shooting said the gunmen spoke perfect French, while claiming to be from Al Qaeda.

Such home-grown terrorism is not new.

Nine years ago four British Islamist men detonated four bombs, killing 52 people and injuring 700, and in 2007 Glasgow airport was attacked by two NHS workers, one a doctor, the other a student, driving a car stuffed with explosive gas canisters.

Religious intolerance is running amok and we face further attacks on our way of life.

However, terrorism must never be allowed to extinguish our freedoms. I know it won’t.