The horrible attack on Charlie Hebdo last week struck right in the heart of the freedom of speech. Now, it’s time publicists all over the world stand together and show firm leadership to defend democracy and free press. Now, it is more important than ever.
Last Sunday, people all over the world gathered at public squares to show support for the victims of the deadly attack on French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Hundreds of thousands of people of all religions, ages, sexes, and nationalities came together to pay their respect to the journalists and police officers who were murdered in Paris last week.
We are a world in shock. But we are also a world that firmly stands up and demonstrates our beliefs in democracy and freedom of speech when the foundation that our free world is built upon has been attacked.
Several newspapers around the world have published the drawings of Charlie Hebdo for many reasons. Our newspaper, GT/Expressen, published them as well, to show support for the assassinated journalists but also to show the world what the satire drawings actually looked liked, to let various religious experts explain what is so provoking in these drawings, but, most importantly, to show the world that terrorist acts won’t silence inconvenient views.
You may take one person’s life, but you can’t assassinate the voices of all journalists and newspapers around the globe.
Last Sunday, I was moved to see so many children standing there with me in the snow at the demonstration for Charlie Hebdo in Sergels Square in Stockholm, most of them holding a pencil, clutched in their small hands, high up in the air.
And that night, when I put my 7-year-old son to sleep, he of course had a lot of questions and thoughts:
“Mother, one of those murdered by the terrorists was an editor-in-chief, like you. I don't want anything to happen to you.”
“Nothing will happen to me. I’m right here with you, right?”
“But I’m afraid.”
“You know what, son? That’s a perfectly normal reaction. But that is exactly what the terrorists want. They want us to be afraid. But what good will that do? What kind of world would this be if we walked around, constantly being afraid? We can’t let fear rule our lives, right? Then we are no longer free.”
My son hugged me tight. Contemplated. Then came his next question:
“Mum, what to you think the terrorists are afraid of?”
My turn to contemplate.
“You know, that is a very good question. I think they are afraid to laugh. Obviously they can not bear the thought of anyone mocking their religion and beliefs. Can you imagine that a laugh can be so threatening that it’s worth killing for?”
We talked a bit more and hugged a bit more. I am grateful to work as a journalist. And I am grateful to teach our children the value of standing up against terror and injustice.
Nous sommes tous Charlie. We are all Charlie.
Je suis Charlie.