How the Hashtag #JeSuisCharlie Contributes to French Unity
French SEO Executive Subina Siddiqi revisits the barbaric acts carried out in Paris last week. Being distanced from France and her relatives, it is through social media that she realised the horror of the events. Here she writes as a tribute to the victims.
On Wednesday 7th of January, the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris were attacked by terrorists. They killed twelve people and wounded at least eleven others. On Friday 9th, the two suspects were killed after a long manhunt.
Charlie Hebdo translates roughly to Charlie Weekly, is a satirical French publication known for its biting humour. Founded in 1969, it's particularly known for a string of satirical cartoons about religion. This isn't the first time that Charlie Hebdo has been attacked, yet the magazine staff have always firmly rejected the notion of staying silent to prevent aggression. In 2012, the Editor Stephane Charbonnier said: "What I am saying may be a bit pompous, but I prefer to die standing than live on my knees."
This barbaric attack wasn't just an attack on journalists but on our fundamental right to freedom of expression.
A Moving Response to the Atrocity
The reaction of the people of France has been hugely encouraging, with solidarity demonstrated through rallies and marches. Also a measure of unity has been the social media hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, or "I am Charlie".
One week after the attack, there have been:
- 5 million #jesuischarlie tweets
- 6.5 million #charlie hebdo tweets
- 712 774 likes on the Facebook page to support Charlie Hebdo
- + 795.2 % like on official Charlie Hebdo's Facebook page
A march of 4 million people, who mobilised in the streets of France to honour the victims of the attack last Sunday 11th of January
The French have also largely unified against the connection made between Muslims and terrorists. Since the attack, Islamophobic violence has increased. Veiled women have been assaulted and mosques attacked. Luckily Muslims and non-Muslims have stood together to stress that these acts are not in the name of Islam and have nothing to do with the religion.
Since the attack, cartoonists across the world have flooded the internet with powerful drawings in defiance of the armed gunmen.
The Last Stand
Tributes continue to pour in for victims and the surviving staff vows to publish 3 million copies one week after the sad events instead of the usual 60,000.
The deceased include Editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinwki, and Bernard Verlhac (respectively known as Charb, Cabut, Wolinksi and Tignous).
Also killed were maintenance manager Frederic Boisseau; columnist Elsa Cayat - the only female victim; proofreader Mustapha Ourad; economist Bernard Maris; designer Philippe Honore; magazine guest Michel Renaud, and policemen Ahmed Merabet and Franck Brinsolaro.
In conclusion, as a human being I condemn this bloody attack against Charlie Hebdo. I hope that the unfailing support that has been shown towards this tragic event remains strong for the countless murders decimating the African continent, including the attacks of Boko Haram in Nigeria. As a human being, I think that nothing justifies the taking of life.
To all the hatred that plagued me this week, I am Subina and I reply with Love.