Yesterday around midday 3 armed men besieged the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 10 employees and 2 police officers. This is in the first place a grave tragedy for the victims and their loved ones who need and deserve all support in this dark hour. But more than that, this was an attack on free speech aimed at silencing a medium the perpetrators perceived as ‘insulting’. Yet silence is not to be enforced, but rather instilled by awe or respect. Silence is not the answer to this tragedy. In 2011 the office of Charlie Hebdo was the target of a firebomb attack and in response they published this cartoon, saying: “Love: stronger than hate.”
Charlie Hebdo did not respond with silence back then and neither should we. We are not all Charlie, but we should strive to be. The freedom of speech is a universal human right (art. 19). It cannot be given but it can be taken away if we allow them.
And I want to stress that by them I do not mean muslims. It is the cancer of fanaticism that lies at the heart of what transpired in Paris yesterday. No muslim, like any other sane person would condone violence against unarmed innocent people. Fanatics do, believers or non-believers, nazis, communists, muslims and christians alike. Fanaticism is not bound to one ideology. Terrorism can scare large groups of people into hating each other, into endorsing stereotypes and restrictive laws they might otherwise not. Therefore I am happy to see that the respons to this tragey is mainly one of unity. Illustrated by this tweet:
Or by the islamic community in the Netherlands condemning the attacks #nietmijnislam (notmyislam). Also the huge support online #JeSuisCharlie and the many many rallies and protests around the world shows that we are not so different as some would have us believe. This is an affront to humanity as a whole. Let’s make sure we have the last laugh.
12 Cartoons in response to the attacks
Images of rallies in respons to the attack
Huffington Post on the original cartoons that ‘provoked’ the attack
Column of the chairman of the Britisch Cartoonists’ Association
Column about Iyad El-Baghdadi’s tweet