Je Suis Charlie


Sofia Hay, Author

Inhabitants of Paris, France, and people around the world were shocked by a terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015. The magazine included cartoons, reports and jokes that often poked fun at various social and religious figures and groups.

On the first day of attack, Jan. 7, extreme Islamic gunmen killed a total of 12 people, which included five cartoonist-journalists, two officers, a copy editor, a columnist, and others.  In the two following days, five more were killed, making a total of 17 losses. The publication of a provocative image of Islam’s prophet Mohammed was the reasoning behind the attack.

While some thought that Charlie Hebdo did push the limit on how offensive their publications were, many supported the fact that France grants the freedom of speech to their citizens.  If publications similar to Charlie Hebdo were to be punished, this would suppress the freedom of speech.

It is estimated that approximately two million demonstrators marched in just Paris alone as a protest to the losses that resulted from the attack and the right to freedom of speech.  Other cities also held similar marches.  This event in Paris was made even more significant by the numerous world leaders that united together in mourning, including French president Francois Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister David Cameron and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The phrase “Je suis Charlie,” which translates to “I am Charlie,” was used by many to show support for standing by the companies rights to free speech.  Some went on to replace “Charlie” with their own names to show that they also had these freedoms.  While the attack and loss of lives was a horrific event, people joined together worldwide to show their support of free press.