Je suis Charlie

The media is an entity that touches everyone in every corner of the world. In an age when events are instantly catapulted across the world via social media, we essentially become a part of this entity.

On January 7, two Islamist terrorist attacked the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in a bloody massacre that left multiple members of the staff as well as civilians dead. A witness recorded a part of the shootings and posted a graphic video of a Parisian officer being murdered to Facebook. The video went viral and soon everyone around the world became a part of the attack. We all became that officer. We all became the staff members of Charlie Hebdo. We all became Charlie. Je suis Charlie.

It became clear that the terrorist wanted to frighten the media into submission but instead created a worldwide unity. Je suis Charlie, or I am Charlie in English, became the slogan of a movement. Millions of people from all around the world, including leaders, politicians and ordinary citizens gathered in the streets of Paris holding pens, pencils and notepads as symbols of solidarity and support for those that were killed.

As a member of the media, it is important to understand the idea of a free press. Fortunately, we live in a society that allows us to express ourselves in any manner that we choose, even if it offends, insults or encroaches another’s beliefs.

Charlie Hebdo is notorious for publishing ironic and exaggerated cartoons of caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In Islam, it is forbidden to depict God in any way, so in turn the publication was committing blasphemy in the eyes of Islam. Last week’s attack was a direct result of their continued and justified printing of such controversial material.

Everyone has an opinion about everything, and no one is going to agree on everything. This disagreeance is what creates an active and open conversation that allows us to freely communicate our valid and unique opinions.

In fact, we here at The Houstonian have had our own run ins with people who have disagreed with our writers and editor. These people used social media to verbally attack and demean our staff. They believe they are making a difference by sending threatening messages over cyberspace. Instead of contributing to improve the paper by actively working with and writing articles, they choose to take the lower road by trolling the internet.

However, no matter what the threats were, that is all they were. Empty, baseless threats. This was not the case with Charlie Hebdo. The terrorist were extremist who decided to use guns in the place of words. Their goal was to shut down the magazine and tear down their voice. But Charlie Hebdo refused to be terrorized and rose from the blood that flooded the streets of Paris and printed as scheduled.

There is nothing these extremest can do that will make us abandon our posts as citizens of the free world. United we rise and will continue to pick each other up no matter how many times they try to shut us down. Even though their tactics are becoming more aggressive and violent, we will not allow them to make us scared and bend to their wills in fear.

We are Charlie.

I am Charlie.

Je suis Charlie.

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