The newsroom at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, was planning a new issue when their right to blaspheme came under attack.
The first editorial meeting of the year started off with the staff joking around a table while Editor-in-Chief Stéphane Charbonnier, known as “Charb,” doodled away. He instantly translated their gaudy exchanges into cartoons.
The meeting was cut short when two jihadist gunmen burst into the office and opened fire, claiming 12 lives before fleeing the building.
So goes the account by Sigolène Vinson in an interview with Le Monde where she recounts the massacre that unfolded on Jan. 7 in Paris.
“They didn’t shoot in bursts,” Vinson said. “They shot round after round, slowly. Nobody screamed. Everybody must have been stunned.”
The magazine’s regular depictions of Muhammad and Islamic culture did go too far. That’s how satire works and it’s OK.
What’s not OK is being killed for making a statement.
Whether someone marches in a peace rally for freedom of the press or in a protest against Charlie Hebdo, they are exercising their rights.
Being a journalist does have inherent risks, whether it be covering Syria’s civil war or entering Ebola territory. The Guardian reported that at least 60 journalists lost their lives in 2014.
Despite that, nobody should have died that day in that office over a cartoon, no matter how many religious figures they jape about. The majority of Americans agree in a poll by YouGov, whose clients include the Huffington Post and The Sun.
The poll showed the “latest research shows that, for most Americans (63%) it is more important to protect free speech than it is to protect the dignity of sincerely held religious beliefs. Only 19% of the public says that it is more important to protect the dignity of religious beliefs.”
Following the attack, a new issue of Charlie Hebdo came off the presses the following week and remained just as controversial as the previous ones.
It has Muhammad holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie” below the headline “All is Forgiven,” and has sparked protests.
The editors of the magazine probably do not expect many Muslims to agree with them .
A quote often attributed to French writer Voltaire goes, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Don’t be afraid for saying what you think. Be afraid of being told what to think.