BY: MATTHEW MCGLOUGHLIN
Yesterday’s attack saw the death of eight staff and four other victims, but rest be assured, free speech was not a casualty in the shooting.
When masked gunmen broke into the Charlie Hebdo Paris office on Wednesday, they took aim at satirists who used humour to challenge common social perceptions, not just targeting prophets or Islam, but also domestic politics featuring cartoons of former President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy and Christianity with a cover featuring an anal sex threesome between the holy trinity.
The intent of the massacre was seemingly to spread fear among freedom of speech advocates and disprove the age-old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Little did the violent fundamentalists realize—that in an attempt to re-sanctify the holy image of The Prophet Muhammad that had allegedly been soiled by the cartoons— they would spark a worldwide rally in the name of free speech, while making life a hell of a lot harder for French Muslims.
Following the attack, multiple mosques were targeted. Ouest-France reports that in Le Mans, multiple grenades landed in the courtyard of a mosque. Today at 6pm local time, a second blast took place at L’Imperial, a popular gathering place for Muslims in the area.
This is the second tragedy; violent action committed by criminals will be used to justify anti-Islamic sentiment.
It is important to remember that it is the Prophet Muhammad himself who said: “Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off; do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself.”
Another latent effect is that rather than strangling expression, Charlie Hebdo was just granted spotlight on the world stage. With help from Google, €250,000 (about $300,000) has been raised for the Digital Press Fund, allowing Charlie Hebdo to publish one million copies next week, the largest circulation in the publications history. Typical circulation is just 30,000. France Télévisions, Le Monde, and Radio France, are also planning to pledge similar amounts.
The plan to silence Charlie Hebdo seems to have backfired completely.
In Europe, thousands gathered in impromptu vigils to mourn the deaths of the cartoonists and writers killed, while 2 of the 3 gunmen are still at large after fleeing the scene in car. Thursday was named a national day of mourning in France, with a countrywide moment of silence in remembrance of those who fell victim to the massacre.
#JeSuisCharlie, has now gone viral—cartoonists, writers and social media users from across the globe responding in a common stance; “We are not afraid.”
Here are some of the responses of free expression advocates around the globe: