From the reporting of the Guardian on today’s barbaric act in Paris, the words of the former Charlie Hebdo publisher Phillipe Val, whose friends were assassinated today:
“We cannot let silence set in, we need help. We all need to band together against this horror. Terror must not prevent joy, must not prevent our ability to live, freedom, expression – I’m going to use stupid words – democracy, after all this is what is at stake. It is this kind of fraternity that allows us to live. We cannot allow this, this is an act of war. It might be good if tomorrow, all newspapers were called Charlie Hebdo. If we titled them all Charlie Hebdo. If all of France was Charlie Hebdo. It would show that we are not okay with this. That we will never let stop laughing. We will never let liberty be extinguished.”
(translated from French by @rayajalabi)
Addendum: During a restless night, while trying to sleep, I got to thinking about why I had blogged about this event, and not about other examples of violent religious extremism, for example the kidnapping of 276 female students from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria by by Boko Haram, or the murder of 140 people, mostly schoolchildren, in a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan. I suppose that a banal reason is simply that the Paris attack seems closer to home. It doesn’t seem a particularly strong or good reason, but there it is. The schoolchildren and their teachers have grieving families also.
Salman Rushdie, as usual, has a few wise words on the situation:
Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.
Addendum 2: Juan Cole gives a very good analysis here in Sharpening Contradictions. A sample:
Most of France will also remain committed to French values of the Rights of Man, which they invented. But an insular and hateful minority will take advantage of this deliberately polarizing atrocity to push their own agenda. Europe’s future depends on whether the Marine LePens are allowed to become mainstream. Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.
Addendum 3: And, as only to be expected, Geert Wilders is stoking the fire to thrive on the situation:
This is not the end of the trouble, but the beginning,’ he said. Accusing political leaders of cowardice, Wilders said very tough measures had to be introduced. The borders must be closed and ‘the army has to be brought in to protect our stations, our streets and our shopping centres’