Wednesday 7th January ’15 was a tragic day for the people of Paris, Journalism and The Freedom of Speech. Thousands around the world are using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie in messages of solidarity with those murdered at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier yesterday.
In an attack that can only be construed as a brutal and cowardly act on humanity, a total of twelve people were shot and killed, including two police officers and ten journalists . Among the victims were four of France’s most renowned satirical cartoonists, including the magazine’s editor Stéphane Charbonnier (also known as “Charb”). In 2012 Charb had defended a controversial series of published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
But this act of cold-blooded murder will not threaten the Freedom of the Press or our Freedom of Speech, as yesterday’s assailants desperately and cowardly tried to achieve. As a student journalist, I feel yesterday’s tragic events have just made journalists all over the world more defiant and stronger as a unit. Freedom of Speech is a human right and no one can threaten that. Those who have tried to disarm this right have only made those who exercise it more resilient.
In an interview with France-Inter radio earlier yesterday, Phillipe Val, former publisher of Charlie Hebdo, made a heartfelt tribute to his friends and former colleagues who were victims of the attack, stating “I have lost all of my friends today“. Val went on to say:
“Terror must not prevent joy, must not prevent our ability to live, freedom, expression – I’m going to use stupid words – democracy, after all this is what is at stake. It is this kind of fraternity that allows us to live. We cannot allow this, this is an act of war. It might be good if tomorrow, all newspapers were called ‘Charlie Hebdo’. If we titled them all ‘Charlie Hebdo’. If all of France was ‘Charlie Hebdo’. It would show that we are not okay with this. That we will never stop laughing. We will never let liberty be extinguished”.
This rings true with so many, and will continue to do so. We cannot and will not let yesterday’s events dismantle our liberty, destroy our freedom or destruct our happiness and joys. What happened on Wednesday 7th January was a sickening and horrific attack on the pen and paper, our freedom of humour and expression, our liberty of creative speech.
So please, raise your pens and pencils in honour of solidarity with those victims who defended that freedom…