I woke up this morning to news of another terrorist attack. This time the attack took place in Paris, France and was directed not at the French people or Parisians in general but at a group most had never heard of before; the staff of a satirical French newspaper called Charlie Hebdo. Twelve people were assassinated by three masked terrorists, among them journalists in their offices during an editorial meeting. This was not the first attack on the paper. They had been targeted previously and firebombed for publishing cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In that attack the offices were firebombed.
Charlie Hebdo did not make fun of extremist Muslims alone. These journalists spared no fools. Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, and the cartoonists known as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were killed but their art lives on. The courage of 47-year old Charbonnier, Jean (Cabu) Cabut the 76-year old lead cartoonist as well as cartoonists Georges Wolinski (80) and 58-year old Verlhac (Tignous) Bernard in continuing to celebrate freedom of expression stands out above the gutless attack of the faceless terrorists.
If the terrorists had hoped to silence Charlie Hebdo they have failed and it is our responsibility to assure that failure continues. Freedom of speech is a right that cannot be overlooked or considered insignificant. In the end the courageous people are the victims who continued to publish their magazine despite the possibility they would be attacked. The journalists did not wear hoods or masks and did not come armed with automatic weapons. They went to their jobs daily using pens, paper, computers, and their skills as writers and artists to voice their opinions of the cowardly acts of those who use the cover of religion to commit murders worldwide. They did not hide. Their words and pictures will survive while the faceless assassins are no more than spineless killers. As British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press”. Leaders from around the world including US Secretary of State John Kerry have spoken out against the attack in support of the French people and journalists everywhere. I am a writer. I am not a controversial writer but I value the freedom to write what I want. Je suis Charlie. I am Charlie.