Charlie, you and me

by Juliette Fournil on January 20, 2015 - 10:58am

 Because I am French, I needed to tackle this issue.

Because I am an Erasmus student and that I am here to discover a new cultur, to meet new people, to be more open-minded. Open-minded. It is something that everybody has to learn as we stand so far from it…

Because I am writing on this blog, on which we individuals are free to write about whatever we want to. Freedom of speech.


What has happened in France on the 7th January, involving terrorists and the medias is more than a simple but nonetheless horrendous human murder : it is an attack against our freedom of speech.

From that moment on, a large majority of western people became Charlie. Perhaps even you did. All these people changed his profile picture on Facebook to write in white on a black background : I am Charlie. Everybody shared articles, videos, cartoons on social networks. Everybody was expected to participate on the 'events' created for the occasion : Gathering in memory of Charlie Hebdo. Everybody. In our own way. Excepted, of course, those who are thinking that muslims and terrorists are necessarily same persons. Those who are narrow-minded.


And what we, the people, did – together – was exceptionnal, unprecedented. So many people united to defend, to support, to protect our cherished and splendid values.


But I am afraid.

I am afraid because even if it were for the greater good, we only focused on France, turning a blind eye on what was happening in the rest of the world. Almost 2 000 people were killed by Boko Haram. And that is only an example among hundreds of others but it is also something against what we, citizens of the world, have to fight. Together.

I am afraid because of the debate which has been triggered in France about Islam.

I am afraid because it's only been two weeks the day after tomorrow, but we are already stopping to speak about Charlie, about what it has sparked off, about what it means. We have to continue the fight. Let it be known that it is far from being over, the struggle has only begun.


WE must stay together. WE must start all over again in unity to defend the values and the lives we care about.


Hello Juliette, my name is Francois, a student from Champlain college in Quebec. I give you my sincere apology if my title has hurted your feelings. Regardless of my interpretation of this tragic event, I was greatly touched by the compassion and solitarity that the French people have shown to the world. The parade on the streets of Paris was solemn and mournful that even a stranger to the event would have been moved profoundly. But it is with this sentiment of respect and contemplation that I started my research on the Charlie hebdo magazine and also on this value that the French people uphold so dauntlessly, the freedom of speech. Unexpectedly, the content of the satirical magazine surprized me. Obscenity, provocation, disrespect were all over the place. I am not even a Christian nor a Muslim, but I found the cartoon incredibly offensive, dirty and insulting more than anything. I believe freedom of speech is essential value in revealing repression, dictatorship, social injustice and many iniquities in the world. But I also believe that mutual respect, caring and human decency are values nowhere less important than the freedom of speech. If insulting one's mother of being a sexual worker would be an offence of human dignity, what makes blasphemy of once faith so rightous and justifiable? Since, we'd defend both our love ones and our faith with our lives. In my opinion, provocation of violence and insults are by no means anti-terrorism. The respect of values that are different from our own is.

Hi François, I am absolutly not hurted by your title, I could even say that I agree with. I could also say that I understand and share your opinion but there is only one thing that I want to pinpoint. To lampoon is not necessarily disrespect. It is a way like another to say things. It was not insults. I believe that they (the cartoonists) surely often added fuel to the flames but it was not a reason. It was not a reason because their purpose was not to rail against one religion in particular, but against the obscurantism in general. Islam was not the only religion targeted.

I think you did good in mentioning that. I condemn the murder of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo every bit as much as everyone else in the world who has used a photo or been to a manifestation.
It is most of the times something of good campaign, of a trend. So everyone tweets about it or else to show that they are aware of whats happening. But not all investigate about further cases, and it is good to see you mentioned it.
But in the same way I think why has nobody changed their profile pics on ANY of the other terrorist attacks happening every single day in places the media isnt interested in showing, as little as the world is willing to see?
I am Charlie as well, but I am the rest of the world's victims too.

The events of the 7th January were a shock for all of us, not only a national one, because, as you said, it is about something that involves everyone: freedom of speech. Like you, I admire what people did further to the killing to show their solidarity. But I was a bit embarrassed that this information prevailed over all other events that happened in the world. I'm not trying to minimize it but other massacres are perpetrated all over the world everyday (you mentioned the killings by Boko Haram) and I have the feeling that media decide to choose some events rather than others, probably because some information are more sensational than others.

To respond to François' comment, I think the issue is not about the newspaper itself and its "provoking editorial line", it's going beyond that. One can find that even if nothing can justify terrorist acts like this one, Charlie Hebdo has been disrespectful towards people and religions, but I just would like to say that people who drew those cartoons were not ignorants, they did not meant to insult people or hurting them, it is their way to denounce in using humor (that you can appreciate or not, I admit!)

It’s been almost three month since the events of the 7th January happened. I think we are all agreeing to say that we all remember of the sadness of that tragic day. However, as you said “[You are] afraid (...) It’s only been two weeks the day after tomorrow, but we already stopping to speak about Charlie”. I agree with you, many of us or many of what you called citizens of the world had made in memory of Charlie : gathered, walked, shared pictures... etc. But what has happened since then?

In France, on TV there are prevention videos about Jihadism, the first issue, after the Charlie hebdo shooting, published on 14 January sold more than 7 million units around the world. It was exported into 25 countries. It shows the positive impact on the world: bringing people together. But also, others terrorist attacks: in Bamako on 7 march, in the Bardo national museum in Tunis on 18 march. Many people and politician have taken to the street of Tunis for an anti-terrorism march last Sunday. As said the activist Ben Hazem “Terrorism is an international phenomenon, not a Tunisian one”. The question now is : How can we defend ourselves?

About the author

I'm Juliette. I come from France and I will study political science and economy for two semester in Potsdam. I'm very interested in international relations and gender studies, that's why I decided to follow this lecture. I'll probably be part of Amnesty International Potsdam.