The news was deeply shocking: at least 12 dead and many injured in a kalashnikov attack on the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
The Equal Times editorial team wishes to express its condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this appalling and indescribable act.
As journalists we uphold the freedom of expression that Charlie Hebdo stood for, a right that has been attacked with deadly consequences as this new year begins.
While we do not yet know the identity or the motive of the attackers, we cannot discount the possibility that the satirical magazine has paid the ultimate price for expressing challenging and deliberately caricatured opinions that shake up established ideas.
Politics, the media, the moral majority…nothing escaped the satire of the Charlie Hebdo staff. But what got the biggest headlines were their articles targeting religions, particularly Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, provoking countless threats against the magazine’s offices. Yet other articles also offended the convictions of Catholics, Jews and believers from all religions.
Whether or not the attack was motivated by religious feeling, Equal Times will continue to defend the right of the press and the public to express controversial ideas, even if they seem blasphemous to some.
In a secular democracy, religion has no extra protection from criticism or humour. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights recalls the right to make comments that may shock, upset or disturb.
In France, a land of liberty, this attack is all the more deplorable given that it has taken place against a political/media background in which progress in favour of multiculturalism and the acceptance of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities is constantly undermined.
Let us not allow such a barbaric act prove right the extremists and polemicists of all persuasions who only represent a tiny proportion of the population.
Freedom of expression is the foundation stone on which our democratic societies are built. A free and independent press is and will continue to be its vehicle.
Defending it before and against everything is essential for combating obscurantism and human folly.
Charlie Hebdo, we support you.