I Am Charlie


I Am Charlie
Terrorism Is Not Only in the United States

Today, 7 January 2015, 11:00AM, Paris, three Islamic men entered a magazine firm with AK-47s and went on a shooting rampage. The journal is called Charlie Hebdo; it is a satirical weekly journal which prides itself in its creative and blunt cartoons 2to express political ideas. It is an extreme leftist paper which often criticizes religious groups and organizations. This particular group of Islamists was beyond offended at the remarks made against Muslims in this paper over the years and decided to take matters in their own hands. The masked shooters wounded many and killed at least twelve people. Among the dead were four country-renowned cartoonists and the director of the editorial. The gunmen fled to the eastern parts of Paris in a car shouting death threats to the paper Charlie Hebdo.

Presidents and Prime Ministers around the western world have offered their condolences and support to France as this is one of the biggest terrorist attacks in France in years. French troops are now lining the streets of Paris, and the national security level was raised to its highest level as the hunt begins for the culprits. 3Showing their support and solidarity, people began standing in squares and plazas around Europe just hours after the shooting. Thousands of people are gathering in silence to hold candle-light vigils and represent their support by carrying signs that read, “Je suis Charlie”—I am Charlie.

The largest reaction and cry of outrage are that this attack is against the right of freedom of expression. The satirical magazine is covered under French rights of freedom of speech and expression, so they may say whatever they see fit. What is more, the public cries that the periodical was equally satiric and offensive to many groups and religions, not Islam solely or specifically. France is a country where fighting for a Republic comprises its history, so this event is against the very French fabric and nature. The French see this act of terrorism, not only as an attack on a company and citizen, but as an attack on their basic human rights.

I realize this is not a cheery topic to share about studying abroad, but it is quite a perspective to be in France right now as they recover from this shock, scare, and horror. I had not heard anything when returning from classes in early afternoon, but once evening hit, the TV showed nothing but the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo. People’s reactions were very similar to those of Americans after 9/11, and many references were even made to that previous attack. My host stared at the TV in amazement and threw out enraged opinions when she could find the words. Her concern now is the continued and increased unconscious judgment against the Arabic and Islamic populations in Europe.

This is a sad and unforgettable date for France and this study abroad experience. Because we as U.S. citizens understand very well the fears of these attacks, let us keep everyone here in our prayers.