© Julie Nugeus,
So, it happened. Terrorists executed 17 people on January 7 in France. They organized and planned it. They intentionally attacked journalists of the « Charlie Hebdo » newspaper and killed Jewish people in a kosher grocery store. These words, when said or written, still don’t seem real to me…
On the day it happened, the emotion was so big that my brain could not process it. I had to repeat the same words many times to my friends and to whomever crossed my path : « a terrorist attack killed journalists of Charlie Hebdo and four Jewish people in Paris »
No ! It can not be !…
Charb, Tignous, Honoré passed away too. Focusing on these caricaturists, who embodied the figure of freedom of speech, is an attack against freedom and the other values of the Republican state that France stands to represent. Whether you like Charlie Hebdo’s respect-less, impetuous and controversial tone or not, they defended with courage the uncensured expression within their drawings. For that, I admire and grieve for them.
But, light is never far. On the night of the same day, when I reached the square of the first gathering in Lyon, I realized we were so many overwhelmed with the same emotions : rage and sadness. But we had the will to express this rage all together, united. On a square in Paris, four words came out of the crowd just like a light : « we are not afraid ».
I spent the next three days watching this big solidarity movement that spontaneously organized itself in public spaces : in the cities, on social networks and among journalists everywhere in the world. I realized a major event was taking place. History is marching on every day, yet, we barely notice it. Though, during a great event like this one, it takes on significant importance. I caught a glimpse of its shape when aware of the impact of a terrorist killing against committed journalists.
This movement ended up in a big march on Sunday, January 11. Joyfully, even if heavy hearted, people marched the streets of Paris where 1.4 million people gathered, but also in Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille, Strabourg… and even small cities and villages. All together, around 3.7 million people expressed their support.
I am very moved by the ability of part of the French people to stand up for their values in solidarity and equality. I find it very beautiful.
Although, we have to be careful as not everyone was marching. People are divided. That major event woke us up to what was already in front of us. The big issues are still here. Some French people turn toward the extremist view of the Islamic group. French people descended from an immigration that other French people don’t tolerate. Is the French integration model right ? It is time for the French and European politicians and citizens to take the responsibility to rethink notions like integrity, secularity and put together sustainable solutions to progressively rebuild a tolerant and mixed society. If not done, the risk of an escalation of Islamaphobia and racism on one side and of violent radicalization on the other side is real.
As real as the feeling of hope which fills up my heart. I believe new resources will be developed and I have faith that education and culture will bring out healthier responses to such issues.