WRITTEN BY: LUCIE P. NORRIS
If you want to read about the atrocious attack you only have to open any newspapers or type ‘Charlie Hebdo’ into your Google search bar and you will find dozens of articles stating the facts. That is why I will not write yet another article about the tragedy but rather focus on who they are, what they do and why their work matters.
What is Charlie Hebdo ? Why does its work matter so much that it will never be brought down by attacks?
At the beginning there was another magazine : Hara Kiri, founded in 1960 by Georges Bernier, a.k.a Professeur Choron (Professor Choron) and François Cavanna. They progressively extended their team to include, amongst others, Wolinski and Cabu, two of the victims of the January 7th 2015 fatal shooting.
The magazine received two publication bans, once in 1961 and once in 1966. After the second ban, lifted 6 months after, contributor Cabu chose not to return to the journal.
Cabu only returns to Hara-Kiri in 1969. But already one year later, in 1970, fate once again strikes the magazine when it was banned by the french home secretary for a controversial cover on Général de Gaulle’s death.
Wanting the contents of the magazine to keep being published, the team decides to change its name. This is how Charlie Hebdo was born.
What exactly is Charlie Hebdo ?
Charlie Hebdo is a weekly satirical french magazine. During the 4 decades of its existence, Charlie has proved its independence, its reluctance to a monolithic way of thinking and its freedom. With talented cartoonists and journalists, it has created debates, controversies and much has been written about its untamed energy and love for liberty in all its forms.
I will not say I agreed with everything Charlie published, first because I have not read the magazine since its debut and secondly because lying and saying I loved all of it would be an insult to Charlie. Charlie never was about pleasing everyone, quite the opposite in fact.
If we were to only cite one demonstration of its power to shock we would talk about controversial drawings of prophet Muhammad which attracted huge amounts of bad press about them and death threats leading to the magazine being under police protection and resulting in a firebomb explosion in Charlie’s building in 2011.
Charlie writes about culture, all religions, sects, politic and politicians – and even if left-wing oriented, Charlie is never tender with leftist politicians.
Charlie will never be talked of in the past tense
There is one thing I fully realised yesterday, after the attack, and it is that Charlie’s victims were fighters. Freedom fighters. They did not fight with guns. They used their pens. And words change the world more significantly than any bullet ever could.
Today, we need, magazines and journalists like Charlie. Because they fight for our freedom, against repression and censure of all kind. They never backed down before threats and anger. They kept working, passionately for what they believed in.
They are a symbol. A symbol of freedom of speech and press. A symbol of ultimate liberty. And a symbol never dies.
We do not need to agree with Charlie’s opinion to feel the tragedy deep in our core.
Charlie is all of us. If we needed any evidence, the sights of people from different generations, horizons, with different opinions all gathering together, singing, praying, showing support for the victims, their family, for freedom and for the ability to express one’s opinion, would be a strong enough proof.
The message was received loud and clear : Freedom is non negotiable.
Charlie Hebdo still is, always will be. Charlie is not afraid and neither are we.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham