Unless you live in a cave like I usually do, you have heard about the tragic killings in Paris a couple of days ago. Armed people came into satiric left wing newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters during their editorial meeting and killed twelve people, including two policemen on the way out.
The response has been one of shock, as you can see from my FB feed turned black in a matter of just a few hours
People gathered in the streets with #jesuischarlie (I am Charlie/I follow Charlie) banners and holding pens representing their freedom of expression.
In Madrid, where I am at the moment, hundreds of people stood silently for hours in front of the French Embassy. Even Times Square was mourning
I am not one for politics, as a matter of fact I have never voted in my life, I don’t think it would be fair to have a voice somewhere I haven’t lived for the past 12 years, and I rarely talk about my relationship to my home country either. But the attacks have touched so many things I felt the urge to do so. They have attacked one thing we hold sacred in France, our freedom.
You see, our motto is Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. We put freedom first, always. Then equality, and fraternity. The values of the Republic keep you with a strong identity as a French person. Even first generation born migrants feel like they are French. Unlike the US or the UK, in France you won’t see a Little Italy, or an Indian neighborhood. Not even a Portuguese one, and there are over a million of them in France. There is a small Chinatown in Paris but that’s it. The rest of our migrants have melted quickly. It is just something you learn at school. You’re part of it. We don’t translate official forms in 36 languages, we don’t do special treatment to get into college for minorities, we just give you the opportunity to become French and act like one.
So even when you leave, you still feel very strong ties to France and its freedom. After spending a third of my life abroad, I still belong there. I love Guatemala, my home is there, but people never made the effort the French do in integrating foreigners as part of their own. I am comfortable in Guatemala, but people still stare as I am a foot taller than the average person, they still ask sometimes offensive questions. The French just suck you in as long as you respect their values.
And the value we hold highest, our freedom, was attacked, so instead of bending our heads and being resilient, we stood up and got defiant.
Like someone tweeted “Hey dummies, we are millions of people with a crappy sense of humor in a newsroom called the Internet, good luck getting to us!”
I feel hurt because they hit my hometown, the city I am about to fly to in a few days, they hit people who like me make a living expressing their thoughts and begging other people to challenge the status quo and stop being resilient sheep, they hit policemen who could have been my friends or family members, and thankfully weren’t on duty that day.
I can’t do much but for once I can use this blog to keep spreading the word and support freedom of speech, as I would hate to see uniformity all around. RFI has always been about being different from the crowd, and today another flock of loud speaking weirdos has been hurt, I may not share their opinions, but it hurts as much as if our little online bubble had been the target, since they were killed for saying out loud being different was okay.
Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says
I immediately thought of you when this happened, Pauline. I’m glad none of your loved ones were harmed. It’s such a horrible situation but with that French attitude you described, it’s clear that France will rise above the hate.
I was deeply saddened to learn of the events in Paris. I know the French people are fierce about not succumbing to threats even such that profoundly affect the national conscience. They will continue to stand for their rights and freedoms and rally together as a country. I plan to be in Paris in February as I added the stop to my UK travels. It’ll be my third visit to Paris and I’m looking forward to it. Vive la France! #jesuischarlie
Vive la France! Indeed, we won’t let the scumbags stop us from visiting this beautiful country. I’m glad that your family was safe, and l am so sad for all those affected. My country of Nigeria is infected with the same gutless scumbags. Seeing the state of the world now reinforces my decision not to have kids.
Andre Monk Book says
…aaahh…this situations is so sad….so sad….
Simon Cave says
I completely agree Pauline! I am so upset about what happened. I was in Paris that day.
Terry @ How Abraham Lilncoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones says
Well said. My heart goes out to the people of France. JeSuisCharlie.
I’ll never understand what terrorists hope to accomplish with plots like this one. All it seems to do is encourage people to unite and put aside differences to support a greater cause. There might be fear from a few people for a minute or two, but people don’t stop living or change their thoughts because of cowardly acts.
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
It’s great to see the spirit of France and Paris specifically come together in unity for freedom!
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
I feel sad that people just die in someone’ hands. Why do they keep doing it? Hope they realize the value of life. Never ever take it away from someone. #JeSuisCharlie
How To Save You says
#JeSuisCharlie I am one with you in condemning those brutal and cowardly attacks.
KK @ Student Debt Survivor says
I love what you said about the French really loving on people and, “sucking them in”. I know that that same fierce independence will bring the French people (and the world) together to condemn those cowards who acted out of fear and ignorance.
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