The Power of “Je Suis Charlie”

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“Je Suis Charlie!” – a phrase that has swept the French nation and beyond, thanks mostly to social networks. Meaning ‘I am Charlie,’ the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie has gone on to become the most used hashtag ever on Twitter.

It is a simple, yet powerful, cry of defiance from the French people which arose immediately after ten journalists and two police officers were killed during a gun attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Wednesday.

In a world that tries to encourage forms of free speech and freedom of expression, it is hard to stomach the fact that so many innocent lives, including subsequent victims at the hands of the attackers this week, have been taken because of the opinions of a select group of creative people.

Even so, this isn’t the first time that the offices of Charlie Hebdo have been attacked. In 2011, they were petrol-bombed after naming the Prophet Muhammad as their “editor-in-chief” for their next issue.

Cartoonists across the world are uniting against the bloodshed and violence, with others rallying on the streets in support of the Je Suis Charlie movement in the UK, Canada, the US and elsewhere. Candles, banners and flowers have been laid for those who lost their lives whilst just going about their daily routines.

I fully support freedom of speech, even if the opinions expressed by others are the opposite of my own. It is just a shame that even though we live in the 21st century, we are still capable of acting like animals, hell-bent on causing brutal and irreversible damage on fellow human beings because of difference in opinions, beliefs and more.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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