Just imagine: you are starting your day at work when armed men burst into the room and start shooting everyone in sight. You are not armed, you are just doing your day job. You don’t stand a chance. You die.
This is what has happened today to ten journalists and two policemen in Paris. They were husbands, fathers, sons, brothers or uncles. The policemen were executed in cold blood with military precision, with a shot in the head, according to the latest news. They just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The attacks took place at Charlie Hebdo’s offices. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical publication. It is a small newspaper with a hugely irreverent tone. Yes, it is an offensive publication, but it is offensive to anyone in general and religions in particular.
Whether you agree or disagree with Charlie Hebdo isn’t the point. Such attacks, in my view, could happen to anyone. Because, one way or the other, we all upset someone at some point, don’t we?
France is a secular country. In France, you are not supposed to show any sign of your religion. It is all about creating a common ground, whatever your background might be. This is why you can’t wear a cross at work, or a veil. France has always prided itself to be a model of integration. Things are slightly different in the UK, where you can show your religion in a more open manner. France has always thought that it was less at risk of such terrorist attacks because of its secularism (we call it laicite), and because it didn’t go to war in Irak. Well, France needs to wake up and smell the coffee: the threat is international and nobody is immune to it.
Let’s face it: I am worried because such attacks might become more and more common. I am worried because our President, Francois Hollande, has apparently used the secret services to follow his ex-girlfriend Valerie Treirweiler rather than tackle Islamic terrorism (because that’s what it is, right?). He needs to get his priorities right. This is not only an attack against freedom of speech. This is an attack against humanity. Of course we must stick together, but we have to fight back. I am in shock. Complacency isn’t an option.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London