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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Since the horrific attacks in Paris at the beginning of 2015, many of you will now understand what Charlie Hebdo is, and what happened on the fateful day; the 7th January 2015. A total of 11 people were murdered by gunmen inside the Charlie Hebdo offices, with another 11 people injured. This was not the only attack which occurred in Paris, there were several other attacks which followed this act of terrorism. Paris had been on high-alert for terrorist threat preceding the attacks, yet the tragedy which took place was shocking for all.
The gunmen were identified as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group; Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. What is ultimately shocking is the fact that these men were French. All three gunmen were raised and radicalised in the Parisian city, and consequently, it is unthinkable that they could carry out such a disastrous attack in their native home country.
The attacks both tore France apart, breaking many hearts, as well as unified the country. It is important to understand what Charlie Hebdo signifies. The French satirical weekly newspaper features various controversial cartoons, designs and jokes. It deliberately mocks religious groups, relating to national and international news. Since 1969, when the magazine was first published, it continued presenting controversial news until 1981. Since 1992, it began reporting news again, and in 2011, there had been an attack on the offices. On the 2nd November 2011, Charlie Hebdo’s office was set on fire, with the website being also hacked. It had always been under some form of threat, but no one expected there to be such a barbaric attack.
Numerous demonstrations took place across France, with the main rally of unity beginning in Paris, on the 11th January with roughly 2 million people and more than 40 world leaders, including David Cameron. This was said to be the largest unified demonstration in the history of France, with every local joining in shouting from their windows, people singing the national anthem; la Marseillaise, and many carrying slogans stating ‘Je Suis Charlie’. This slogan became famous worldwide following the attacks, to show each individual's tribute to the cartoonists who were killed. Additionally, pencils were used as an emblem to show that freedom of expression will continue, that France is not frightened, and that the newspaper shall live on. In fact, the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo became sold out throughout the whole of France – I tried for many weeks to get a copy, but couldn’t. Following the attacks, nearly 8 million copies were distributed not only in France, but in six different languages, which is a huge number considering usually the publication only prints roughly 60,000 copies.
The Charlie Hebdo shooting on the 7th January was an incredibly sad day, and one that will always be remembered. Those cartoonists killed promoted freedom of expression, and France continues to fight back with no fear, continuing the publication of Charlie Hebdo, and showing that there are no limits to the freedom of speech.
RIP to all those brave people who lost their lives.
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