Why The Terror Attack On Charlie Hebdo Newspaper in Paris That Killed 12 People Is Religious Violence

The NY Times has an updated story about this senseless terrorist attack to "avenge" the Prophet Muhammad for cartoons ridiculing him. In that piece we read:
In a letter addressed to French President Fran├žois Hollande, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany offered condolences. “This horrible act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and the domestic security of France, it also stands as an attack on the freedom of expression and the press, a core element of our free, democratic culture that can in no way be justified.”
Notice the last part? Such an act against freedom, and a free press, cannot be justified since freedom is a core value of democratic societies.

So how do we know this was an act of religiously motivated violence, and not explained away as a cultural by-product of oppressive colonialism, or poverty or anything else? Easy. It can ONLY be justified religiously. That's how we can tell with crystal clarity that religion had invaded the secular square. Without the religion that justifies murderous acts like this one, there would be no reasonable justification for them. Because of this there is every reason to condemn these murderous acts and the religion that endorses them.