This morning, 3 men stormed Charlie Hebdo’s office and killed 12 people, including some of the most famous French journalists.
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper, who is very well known for its drawings, often shocking. At several occasions, they portrayed Mahomet in a way that was very controversial. At the time, it triggered many debates, and even threats, but Charlie Hebdo always stood for the freedom of speech against fear.
In today’s attacks, two gunmen were filmed leaving the building and claiming they “killed Charlie Hebdo, they avenged Mahomet”. Apparently, they claimed to be from Al Qaida, but this still has to be confirmed.
Those attacks weren’t against France. If you want to attack France, you attack French symbols such as Champs Elysees, Tour Eiffel, Air France plane etc… Those attack were against freedom of the press, which is a key pillar of democracy. Those attacks are really against our way of life and our freedom.
I think it’s really the symbol of what’s happening in today’s world: a deadly fight between two conceptions of the human society: freedom vs obscurantism. It goes well beyond borders, political parties, and it actually goes beyond religions.
The way to answer those attacks is very clear:
1/ Charlie Hebdo will continue to live. Ideally, they will publish their next issue on time and they will continue their work as if nothing happened, despite their despair and sadness.
2/ No fear: in the face of terror, you can’t show fear, and must continue to do what you’re doing. To see all those people get together in Paris, Lyon and Lille is exactly the right answer. We are not afraid.
3/ Bring people together, not divide. It’s too easy to isolate a group of people and blame them for it. The world is actually more complex than that. You don’t respond to extremism by extremism. You bring people together, and together you fight the extremisms. Living together is the solution, not the problem: it’s the foundation of our society, and what those extremists are trying to break.
I’m really sad today, but as John Kerry stated (in perfect French), freedom has a price. It’s a very high price, but we must defend our freedom. Our freedom to be who we want, to believe in whomever, to wear whatever, to love whomever, to say whatever, and to write whatever.
Nous sommes tous Charlie.