Thursday, January 8, 2015

Universal Attack

From USA Today:
"Paris attack: Universal values, universal outrage"

This time, the terrorist target was not a state or a politician, not a commuter train, a subway station or a pair of giant office towers.  The target was freedom of expression, a value so fundamental it's recognized in the English Bill of Rights (1689), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789), the U.S. Bill of Rights (1791) and the U.N. Universal Declaration of Rights (1948). And the world reacted commensurately, with a unity that was fierce, angry and rare.  Humor is the canary in the coal mine of free speech," said Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker magazine, after gunmen stormed the offices of a French satirical newspaper called Charlie Hebdo that caricatured the prophet Mohammed. "We all have to stand up today, whether we are humorists or not.'' It happened at high noon in the City of Light. Some of the gunmen yelled "Allahu akbar!" as they fired. "Hey! We avenged the prophet Mohammed! We killed Charlie Hebdo," one shouted in French, according to video shot from a nearby building.  When it was over, the paper's editorial director and 11 others — seven of them journalists — were dead. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State's leader giving New Year's wishes. The publication's depictions of Islam had attracted heat before — it was firebombed in 2011. It apparently made no difference that Charlie Hebdo also satirized other religions and political figures.  Condemnation of the attack extended from Russian President Vladimir Putin to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who tweeted: "The world must now avenge Charlie Hebdo by swiftly republishing all their cartoons.''
One tweet, by a woman named Emily Koch, summed up the defiant mood: "You can kill journalists, cartoonists. You can't kill the freedom of the press. You have only made their message stronger.''
Tens of thousands took to the streets to protest the killings, and to social media, where "Je Suis (I am) Charlie" was the cri de coeur from Montmartre to Mumbai. In Paris, staffers of the French wire service Agence France-Presse stood before cameras, holding signs with the slogan. Many who poured into the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris, near the site of the attack, waved papers, pencils and pens to show solidarity with journalists and support for freedom of speech. Although march leaders were journalists, most in the crowd were not. 
Some held lighted signs with a message in English: "Not afraid.'' Similar gatherings took place at London's Trafalgar Square, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and in Madrid, Brussels, Lyon and Nice. Online, "Je Suis Charlie" replaced profile pictures on Facebook. The slogan grew into a trending hashtag on Twitter and spread to Instagram, along with an image of a machine gun with the words "Ceci n'est pas une religion" — "This is not a religion." An Instagram user posted a black-and-white drawing of the Eiffel Tower with the message, "Pray for Paris." Another wrote: "Islam is a beautiful religion. This is not what we see on TV. Terrorists are not real Muslims. #IamCharlie." Comedian Lizz Winstead, a satirist and co-creator of Comedy Central network's The Daily Show, tweeted her shock: "This story in France hits very close to home. I will honor #Hebdo by continuing to use humor to expose extremists wherever they are."  Moderate Muslims took up the cry. "We have been offended by these cartoons and have spoken out against them through the political process and the media, but this gives no one the right to kill people. … We have no reservation in saying #notinourname," said Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim group in the United Kingdom. Official reaction was instructive. In Western democracies, the cradles of free expression, the focus was on the challenge to that core value. Here's Italian Premier Matteo Renzi: "All the free world is crying. All men and women who believe in freedom and reason are crying."
But in their condemnations of the attacks, the Russian and Egyptian regimes stressed terrorism — a threat that repressive governments around the world have used as a club against free expression.
Many people worried about what the attack would mean. Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who lives under police protection after drawing caricatures of Mohammed, predicted "fear among people on a whole different level than we're used to.''  Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel, The Satanic Verses, elicited a death warrant from Iranian religious leaders, called on the world to "defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ... Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire and, yes, our fearless disrespect."
Besides the rage and defiance, there was also disbelief.  "I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons,'' said Charlie Hebdo editor in chief Gerard Biard. "A newspaper is not a weapon of war."  But after Wednesday, war seemed exactly what newspapers, and all who speak freely, were facing.  Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis recalled getting death threats in recent years and admitted he was afraid. "For anyone who attempts to speak truth to power … there are those who will take a violent umbrage,'' he wrote. "So we take a deep breath and plunge forward.''

^ It's good to see people around the world banding together to support everything these attacks tried to stop. It's unfortunate that it took 12 people dying to do this, but I hope it will be the start of more people getting involved against the Muslim extremist threat that has been around for over a decade. ^

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/01/07/charlie-hebdo-paris-comedy-central-reaction/21414141/
 

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