Not me, sadly, I am away in work, but upwards of one million people are expected today to march, in silence, to give homage to the 17 who had their lights brutally extinguished during the three days of terror in and around Paris.
If I had been home, there is no doubt I would have gone to Paris today, I would have walked with my banner, showing to all the world that I, too, am Charlie. I would have walked shoulder to shoulder with Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists such as myself, keen to expound the belief that freedom of expression has to be paramount, a belief reiterated by the Iman of Drancy, a man of great courage.
I still remember the first ever time I saw Charlie Hebdo. As a young (ish) man speaking minimal French I looked almost open mouthed at a cartoon depicting a sex orgy, with nuns participating. I didn’t understand it, and have no recollection as to what it related to, but I became aware, at that instant, of a very powerful publication that clearly mocked the state and the establishment. Since I moved to France, 10 long years ago this summer, I buy Charlie Hebdo every time I fly in and out of Paris, which is at least once a month. My French has improved, as well as my understanding of French culture and I’ve understood how Charb, Cabu and their happy band of cartoonists vilified anyone and everyone they thought deserved it. There was never racism, indeed, within recent memory a cartoonist was sacked for “having an anti semetic agenda,” but there was a definite trend to step well over the edge in mocking whatever was their target that week.
But, and there is a really big “but,” I would have marched with a real sense of unease. Not out of personal fear, but because of grave concerns of the suitability of some of my would be fellow demonstrators.
I reiterate here the secondary reason for todays march. It is to show support for freedom of expression. Freedom of expression for the press, for you, for me, for everyone.
I am at a loss to see how certain world leaders arriving in Paris today can do so, whilst looking at themselves in the mirror.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, both people in governments totally averse to a free press, countries that imprison journalists with regularity.
That the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathon will be there, I find disgusting. In his country he currently has I’ve forgotten how many schoolgirls missing and since the vile acts were committed in Paris, he has governed over a (and I use this term deliberately) massacre of around 2000 people in a village in the north of his country. Since the massacre happened, he has continued to tweet “#JeSusiCharlie” and yet hasn’t uttered a single word about what has happened within his own borders.
Whilst I’m interested in world politics, I very rarely write about them on here, this is primarily a happy place, travels and fun things from living in France, but recent events in my adopted country have made it difficult to not write something.
Aujourd hui, et pour toujours “JeSuisCharlie”