The tributes and eulogies and remembrances on this blog seem to be more frequent than the fun and lighthearted these days. Such is the world we live in, I suppose.
Last week another major city was paralyzed by yet another terror attack, this time it was Paris, and the target the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. As we all saw, two gunmen stormed the publication’s offices and opened fire, leaving 12 dead and 11 wounded. Charlie Hebdo has long lampooned religion, and they were previously attacked in 2011 for their criticism of Islam.
Both suspects escaped the Charlie Hebdo offices, and a massive manhunt began which culminated in two separate—but apparently coordinated—hostage situations in France. After a day-long siege of both locations, 4 hostages lost their lives, and 3 terrorists were killed by police. One female accomplice appears to have escaped to Syria.
Coming on the heels of the Sony hacking controversy and terror threats surrounding the release of The Interview, the Charlie Hebdo attack is another assault on our freedom of speech and expression. Our right to speak our minds without fear of reprisal is one of the bedrocks of global democracy—one that many have fought and died to protect.
The Charlie Hebdo attackers devised their plan to instill fear and foment discord about freedom of speech throughout the world, and on Sunday in France nearly 4 million responded with a resounding “We are not afraid.” The largest protest in national history, individuals from all walks of life took to the streets to avow their fight against terrorism and attempts to limit free speech. The rallying call has been “Je Suis Charlie,” one that unites us all against these senseless acts of violence.
When we alter our way of life or begin to limit liberties in response to fear, everyone loses. The people of France have responded strongly that they will not retreat in the face of terror, and the world has joined them in their resolution. We all became Charlie last week, and will continue to stand-up to those who would attempt to silence us through acts of terror.