Je Suis Charlie: A Very Sad Day for France, the Press and the World

I am writing this article on behalf of Her Campus Leeds. We were shocked and dismayed after hearing about the attack on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and felt that an article needed to be written to pay tribute to those brave journalists described as ‘heroes’ who lost their lives for freedom, and the great loss felt by France. The world came together in condemnation and horror at the awful terror attack in Paris that took place yesterday morning. Words of anger, sadness and shock came from across the globe; from world leaders, colleagues of the esteemed cartoonists and journalists killed and injured, as well as social media and pillars of the Islamic community. 

The offices of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, were barbarically attacked by masked gunmen. In only 5 minutes of shooting 12 people are confirmed to have died, some from point blank range shots to the head. These 12 include 2 French policemen, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo and 2 of its most influential and famous cartoonists. 11 more people are injured, 4 of them seriously. Most of these victims are journalists who worked for the magazine, which had previously been firebombed and received death threats for its caricatures of key religious and political figures.

These gunmen are assumed to be well-trained Islamist jihadists. They struck during the weekly editorial meeting when most of the journalists and cartoonists were in the offices. This was a professional and targeted strike as a result of Charlie Hebdo’s previous caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.

The highest security alert is now active in France, with more security forces and police officers being drafted in to the capital to guard key buildings and public areas. 3 gunmen are still at large, arrests have been made and a huge manhunt is ongoing. 

Tens of thousands of people attended vigils last night in the Place de la République in Paris and other cities all over France to commemorate those people whose lives were cruelly taken yesterday in France’s deadliest terrorist attack in years. As a result, today will be a French national day of mourning.

Our thoughts and condolences are with the survivors, the victims' families, friends and loved ones, and the people of France at this difficult and tragic time.  As a media society we feel that the importance of freedom of expression and the press, democracy and tolerance have never been put into such sharp focus. If we are to take anything from this awful attack, it is what the President of France Francois Hollande said yesterday in his speech in response to this brutal massacre; 'Our best weapon is unity'. We cannot let this attack make us cowed in the face of danger or adversity, or justify attacking the moderate majority of Muslims that are as horrified by this event as we are. We must all take “Je Suis Charlie” to heart, stand in solidarity with France, remember all those talented people lost yesterday and make sure that the perpetrators of this act are brought to justice so that the inalienable right of freedom of expression, a vital enabler of democracy, is protected.

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