Georgina Guedes

We are all Charlie

2015-01-08 11:03

Georgina Guedes

I am Charlie. I am a journalist. I speak out about the atrocities that I see, both on a grand political scale and between individuals. I enjoy freedom of speech.

At a time like today, when we are confronted with atrocities committed in the name of Allah, we are reminded of the freedoms we enjoy, but also of the price that many risk paying for those freedoms.

The media stand together

Our government and the government of France may not silence us, but those who we offend may also try. In the wake of the terrible shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday, the world’s media are standing in solidarity. The offending cartoons have been published and republished many times over to a far broader audience than they ever previously enjoyed.

But this is a tough decision for editors and publishers to make. Some publications are blurring the images for fear of retribution. While freedom of speech is a human right worth fighting for, nobody wants to die.

This is the same kind of fear that dictated the withdrawal of The Interview from cinemas after the Sony hack and terror threats from North Korea. It is being made abundantly clear that freedom of speech is one of the most important foundations of the broader liberty that we enjoy in the free world.

Failed terrorism

The purpose of terrorism is not to win sympathy for its cause. The purpose of terror is to introduce such fear that any opposition is withdrawn. But whichever way you look at it, these terrorists have misstepped. While all the media and social media that are publishing these images are doing so with a sense of fear, they are still doing it.

There is no freedom that the media hold in higher regard than freedom of speech, and attempts to trample this through violence and bloodshed will only spur greater outcries.

Terrorism often has another aim - to polarise society. By creating hatred for Islam, more fundamentalists are born. Some are saying that this was a strategic strike in Paris, where Muslims are generally more committed to their home country than their religion, to create hatred and gain followers.

But in the wake of the attacks, both Parisians and people all over the world have responded beautifully. When the dark side of society offers up its worst, we respond with the best that we have.

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

We stand with Charlie and all the freedoms he represents, but the only foes we despise are those who did this. French Muslim groups have dissociated themselves from the attacks, and French Muslims have spoken out to say that we are all the children of the same God.

I don’t think this shooting will rip apart French society. If anything, it has created a further sense of liberty, equality and fraternity among the French people. Muslims and non-believers stand together saying “I am Charlie” and defending the rights they all hold dear.

The media, press freedom and freedom of speech was dealt a heavy blow yesterday, but today it is stronger and more firmly rooted in its ideals. I am Charlie.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    charlie hebdo  |  france  |  paris shootings

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