JE SUIS CHARLIE
Today, as a close friend but more importantly as a young French journalist, I got a message from a Scottish fellow who’s been living in South Africa for the past few decades. He was not in France when the Gun attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo occurred. He is not a journalist, nor a cartoonist. He is just another world citizen caring for our freedom of speech, our freedom of press, wherever we live or will be living.
All around the world, people are paying a tribute to the amazing work of journalists and cartoonists who fight, every single day, for those freedoms. I’ve decided to publish his message to show that what just happened is not just a national issue, not just a French tragedy, not just a little speck in this vast world in which the work of journalists is constantly threatened. We, who fight for freedom of speech, shall emerge conquering.
Today I was told, by friends and family, to choose another path. Today I was told to stop tackling sensitive issues in my articles. Today I was told to get away from anything touchy. Today I was told to reconsider another career.
But today, I was also told how important it is to go on fighting the way we do. How important it is to keep faith. We know that barbarism will not be victorious. Today will not lead to decommitment, fear or weakening. Today, as a matter of fact, taught us something highly important: the degree to which terrorists fear freedom is higher than the degree to which we fear them. Today will not silence us. They attacked us with guns; we will respond with pens, words, dreams, speeches and poetry.
« Dear Melina, I wanted to wish you a wonderful Happy New Year. But Now, after the Charlie Hebdo outrage, I would like to say something different to you. Want to say this:
People, … ‘we’ … talk about democracy and freedom, many do not fully understand. There can be no freedom without freedom of the press, that is the most important freedom … of the ‘freedoms’ we aspire to in a democracy.
YOU and your colleagues Melina are the new generation of Journalists, it is now ‘your’ responsibility to carry forward the traditions of ‘fighting’ for freedom through the writings of the press worldwide. Cartoonists as you no doubt will agree, hold a very special place in the effectiveness and traditions of a free press. Throughout history cartoonists have humbled dictators and despots and ideologues with satire and biting wit.
Activists, cartoonists and journalists in South Africa know about the repression of those who fear the press, who fear the truth. Many of our colleagues paid the ultimate price. We know cartoonists have those special skills, which with a few strokes can humble dictators, despots and ideologues, that is why they are sometimes hated.
I pay tribute today to the fearless and wonderful cartoonists and journalists of Charlie Hebdo…they have paid a terrible price for daring to exercise their ….No ‘our’ freedom of the press. WE ‘all’ owe them. To honour them and their sacrifice – all journalists need to continue to do what they do – without fear, – as that is the greatest weapon we have against the dictators, despots and ideologues. As Aung San Suu Kyi said: “we have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
My dear Melina, my thoughts are with you tonight and with the families and loved ones of the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo… more … my thoughts are with the people of France »