Je Suis Charlie

8 Jan 2015

The incident in Paris has troubled many people greatly, and gives us yet another example of the effects of religious extremism. What gets to me most though, is the way that these sordid excuses for people attacked a group of journalists who merely tried to make people laugh. Yes, they drew a caricature of a sacred religious figure, but if you get so outraged by someone merely poking fun at your theology I would seriously question your mentality. Satire is sacred to the liberal world, and it’s something that we must cherish and protect, even in the face of such disgraceful actions.


We, in the Western world, have a strong commitment to freedom of speech and it’s something we must not take for granted. After these attacks I saw scores of articles accusing Charlie Hebdo of going too far – insinuating in some way that it was their fault for daring to draw a cartoon. This wasn’t the case. A group of innocent cartoonists poking fun at a religion do not deserve to be brutally murdered for exercising their democratic rights – the people at fault are the deranged fundamentalists who seek to stamp out our right to express ourselves.


And thus, we must not respond by curbing civil liberties – we must respond by honouring Charlie Hebdo’s memory. We must defend what Charlie Hebdo did in the name of satire and show that they did nothing wrong. Which is why, if there’s anything positive that I can see from this tragedy, it’s the fact that many people have shared the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ (We are Charlie) image across social media in support. It shows how the majority are united with Charlie Hebdo, and aren’t calling for the suppression of free speech, but instead are standing in solidarity with the slain cartoonists.


I should also note in this article that it’s important not to point the finger of blame at Muslims. I’ve already seen in the media and have the unsettling feeling that this incident will play right into the hands of the insipid Front National in France. There are those who already have their fears affirmed by the actions of a deranged group of terrorists, somehow proving that this shows how all Muslims are extremists. It’s sickening, indeed, Nigel Farage jumped on the scaremongering bandwagon shortly after the tragic incident unfolded.


In the wake of these attacks I think it’s important that the world stands in solidarity with the spirit of Charlie Hebdo – that of satire and liberty. The magazine’s message was an uplifting one, in a world as dark and morbid as today's they brought the light of mockery to its readers. They poked fun at topics that we thought off-limits and showed just how important comedy is. They were killed for it because of the actions of a deranged minority – and in response I say ‘Je Suis Charlie’. I’ll close on the lines of a Charlie Hebdo issue in 2011 that showed what the magazine was at its very best, the cover that had the caricature of a Muslim man and a cartoonist kissing with the poignant line - “love is stronger than hate.


By Rory Claydon

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