A letter to the editor by Laetitia Pages, former French TA for Webster University
In France, we dare to speak out.
Last Wednesday, when I switched my TV on and heard Paris had been the target of a terrorist attack that morning, I was shocked. I couldn’t prevent myself from crying when they showed old videos of the victims smiling and laughing. Their families and friends then talked about them, and it was even more unbearable.
Afterward, the whole population grew angrier and did not hesitate to show its disgust and misunderstanding. The evening of the attack, people were already walking on the streets, gathering together with candles, holding pens and shouting as loud as possible the now famous slogan: “Je suis Charlie.”
The most shocking aspect is that now, in France, drawing has become dangerous. The terrorists killed people for drawing. This is still unbelievable. Until now, I would have never imagined I would have to defend freedom in my own country.
“We’ve proved ourselves united nationwide, whatever our faith or political affiliation.”
Surprisingly, these journalists continued to published satirical drawings about religion despite the many threats they dealt with on a regular basis. It may be hard to understand for some, but they were defending the right to laugh about everything. They weren’t mocking one religion, but all. They were irreverent, but never insulting. They were expressing their freedom.
I have never been so proud of my country. So many people posted beautiful drawings online, sometimes touching, sometimes funny. So many others went down the streets to show they were not afraid to say what they thought, and that they will continuously defend our most important value: our right to be free.
This is one of the reasons why I love my country. We’ve proved ourselves united nationwide, whatever our faith or political affiliation.
We now claim that Charlie Hebdo is not dead. Instead, it has never been stronger! We are now 66 million Charlies, fighting against cruelty and ignorance, and we will defend its spirit forever, because no one should be endangered for thinking.