Je suis charlie, and you should be too

At 11.30am on the 7th January, armed gunmen stormed the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring several more. Three men are currently on the run from French police, sparking a manhunt throughout the city of Paris.

As the old saying goes, ‘actions speak louder than words’. The murderous trio who are currently on the run are probably thinking their actions did just that. How wrong they are.

Three words have taken the world by storm since the barbaric attack. Three words of unconditional support regardless of race, creed or nationality. Three words understood by all. Je suis Charlie.

Not everyone will agree with or endorse the publications of Charlie Hebdo. Its satire, witty and often controversial cartoons and articles are by no means everyone’s cup of tea. But that was the point. Charlie did not aim to ‘get along’ with everyone, quite the opposite. Charlie actively tried to be controversial. Charlie never feared the repercussions of its consistent and non-PC attacks on radical Islam. Its editor Stephane Charbonnier, tragically killed during the attack, lived under police protection due to death threats, yet continued to publish the satirical and witty content that many people enjoyed. This is because freedom of the press cannot be silenced by terror.


A terrorist attack of this sort intends to strike fear into people, make them change their ways to conform to how the attackers want them to behave. It intends to divide people, make them fear following their beliefs. Terrorism intends to break us, but yet again it failed.

Across the world people have rallied in support for Charlie Hebdo, crying “Je suis Charlie”. Cartoonists have been publishing work that Charlie would be proud of, defiant to terrorism. This attack has done nothing but prove that the pen is mightier than the sword, and no person of any faith or race can condone such a senseless attack on such a basic freedom.

Nous sommes Charlie, and our words will always be louder than their actions.

Matthew Smith

Cover Image courtesy of Charlie Hebdo

Image by Jean Julien

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2 Comments on this post.
  • Jon
    14 January 2015 at 19:26
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    Recently, Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief said that anyone using the phrase ‘Je suis Charlie’ should be in agreement with their values, not just freedom of speech (which incidentally I also support) but also secularism. Are you therefore saying that you expect everyone to take on secularist views as your piece States ‘je suis Charlie, and you should to?
    Furthermore, you say imply that the perpetrators actions did not speak louder than words would have. With 12 people killed at Charlie Hebdo, and further deaths in the subsequent hostage takings, do you really believe their actions were not louder than words? Charlie Hebdo was condemned before for its cartoons, but in that case words did not work. Is not this action a hard hitting one that caused grief for the families of the dead? I’m sure actions spoke louder than words for them….

  • Je ne suis pas Charlie
    21 January 2015 at 10:45
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    It isn’t that simple.

    Impact didn’t publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed – including one with the Prophet with a bomb on his head – and the only student paper that did got pulped.

    The reality is that had Impact published those images it might have resulted in a terrorist attack on the Portland building.

    Personally I would rather self-censor myself and not become a victim of Islamist terrorism. Perhaps that makes me a coward but is freedom of speech worth getting your head chopped off for?

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