United Against Violence

The pen is mightier than the sword 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015, will be inscribed as a dark day in France’s history. Masked individuals forced their way into the Paris headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo during their daily editorial meeting. They opened fire with assault rifles, then exchanged shots with police in the street outside, killing in all 12 human beings, including the paper’s latest editor Stephan Charbonnier and even a Muslim cartoonist and Muslim policeman, before escaping by car. The attack is presumed to have been in response to a number of controversial and inflammatory Prophet Muhammad cartoons published by the paper. Charlie Hebdo is known as a strongly anti-racist and leftwing newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholiscism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, and more, all in a profane and blatant non-conformist tone.

The violent killers should be condemned for their atrocious crimes, no question about it. The murder of any human being anywhere is an atrocity! But that does not mean endorsing Charlie Hebdo. We should all be free to express an opinion without fear of being killed for it. But racist cartoons that provoke marginalized communities will not foster integration; on the contrary, they create more division and profound anger, especially amidst the increasing racial tension across Europe, where there is a Tsunami wave of immigrant xenophobia. I wonder if free speech gives us the right to offend and antagonize. The metonymic adage by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1839) reads: “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and it goes both ways!

A united France

We hope that the response to the cruel shootings will be a united France that embraces the 5 million Muslims within their population of 66 million, without vengeance or hatred directed at them. France should not relinquish to Islamophobia to avoid playing into the extremists’ hands. Remind ourselves what Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said after the far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik bombed Oslo and then gunned down dozens of young people on an island: “We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity… We will answer hatred with love.”

Gathering in Monaco’s market square

In the Principality of Monaco more than 2.000 caring people, including members of the press, the Government and other officials, gathered in the open market square in the Condamine at the foot of the Prince’s Palace on Thursday, January 8, in support of freedom of expression and human compassion. The assembly was organized by the Monaco Press Club joined others around France.

I invite you to listen to John Lennon’s message of Peace:

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