According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Wednesday morning gunmen in black masks entered the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo during an editorial meeting, opened fire and escaped. At least twelve people were killed and another eleven injured — four critically. It is the deadliest terror attack in France since 1961 during the Algerian war.
Charlie Hebdo is a satirical weekly newspaper featuring cartoons, reports, polemic and jokes which some might find very offensive. It is also one of the few newspapers in the world that uses the freedom of expression which we all “highly support”, but don’t approve of whenever it’s not at our own convenience.
This cowardly act is not an act of religion. No religion promotes terror. This cowardly act is an act of ignorance and intolerance. It’s an act performed by people who do not know what freedom of expression means and allowed by those who let such people control our “liberal” society. A law that states freedom of expression means nothing, if the society is ignorant and moreover intolerant. It means nothing if a response to words is shooting bullets.
As for the support Charlie Hebdo received from the media all over the world – as amazing as it seems, I do find it hypocritical as well. Half of the news, articles, and statements are censored and modified by the governments and the people “in power”. Do we even know what’s going on in the world or do we only know as much as they want us to?
As much as we like to think there is such a thing as freedom of expression – this cowardly act as well as the firebombing of the newspaper’s office in 2011, and many other acts in which people have been hurt for speaking their minds show that’s not quite accurate. And who are we to blame? The minority which speaks their minds or those who censor and create their own version of the news and hence spit in their own mouth when promoting freedom of expression?
Yesterday, today and tomorrow: Je Suis Charlie (I am Charlie) – not because I am a good journalist or because I am right, but because I believe in freedom of expression and I speak my mind. Regardless of the fact that there will always be people who do not agree with me, regardless of the fact that some might hate me for that, regardless of the fact that some might think I should not do it – I will always speak my mind and I am ashamed to live in a world in which people are being punished for doing the same. I can only hope for a world in which others would fight words with words and never with bullets!
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” Voltaire