By now, you’ll all be aware of the horrific events in Paris, France, in which twelve people died, most of them journalists from the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine based in the city.
All of us who are Brits are, covertly or overtly, Francophiles. We admire our Gallic cousins. Their weather, their wine, their cheeses, their lifestyle. They, in turn, admire Britain, to the extent that France’s second city (in terms of the number of French domiciled within it) is actually London.
Tonight, we all stand united against those who would attack our freedom of speech.
All of us in the UK will almost certainly have learnt the French language, above any other, in school. This, the language of one of our nearest neighbours, gives us a bond with our friends across ‘La Manche’ -the English Channel- that divides us from continental Europe. While politics sometime divides us in the UK from the rest of Europe, tonight we are united. Tonight, ce soir nous sommes tous Charlie. We are all Charlie.
Tonight, we thank President Obama for his support in the fight to unearth, and bring to justice, those who murdered, allegedly in the name of Islam. While I consider him to be one of America’s great presidents, I recognise there are those who disagree. Some fear Obamacare, his colour, and his alleged secretive ‘Muslim’ past. The difference is that those who disagree with me won’t challenge that view with bullets, only with words. Which is how it should be. However vehemently others may disagree with my view on President Obama, they will accept my right to express it. Without bullets. Those of us in the UK, in the US, in continental Europe, recognise and accept freedom of expression. We have not been poisoned.
(Edited: originally this post contained an image of some of the events in Paris during the past week. The brother of a policeman slain during this murderous attack has spoken of his grief at the photographs spread around the world. In respect of his view, and that of the family, I’ve edited the post to remove that image, which I originally included due to its impact, and the fact that it perfectly illustrated what was wrong, what was inhumane, what was evil about the events. I got that wrong, and I’ve moved to remove it on reading the policeman’s brother’s words. This is why I leave the blogging, in the main, to Ella & Pookes: such errors of judgement don’t happen on their shift. My apologies. Howie)
Today, even the lowest common denominator ‘rags’ of the British press have the tone right. The photograph from today, Thursday’s, ‘Sun’ (UK) newspaper, shows allegedly Al-Qaeda terrorists seconds from shooting a French policeman, believed to be Muslim himself, to death. It is an image that should horrify all of us, but frighten none on us. It simply unifies us against a horrific, medieval world view that, mark my words, will be defeated, should it take the length of 2015 or the 21st century.
I would call on all people, whether they call themselves Christian, Muslim, Jew, or any other religion, to declare their opposition to this sort of action.
Tonight, today, we are all Charlie. Tonight, I am Charlie. Tonight, I hope you, too, are Charlie.