WRITTEN BY: JAMES HILL
(The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author)
Dear all People’s Listen, don’t just hear.
In recent times our modern, technocrat society has led to a state of complete information transparency. News and information freely available and accessible at the touch of a button. I have seen the first hand raw power of social media and everything it entails, hashtags dominating how we perceive the world around us. When the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked and 12 brave men and women lost their lives, I saw the usual outpouring of emotion: Instagram photos, tweets, Facebook status’s. Yet what shook me and the Western world was that this attack on a satirical magazine, took place in the supposed bastion of democracy and birthplace of free speech, France. Yet this place was defiled by hatred. Hatred which stems not from rationality. Hatred not akin to the peaceful religion it claims to serve. From the perspective of a student, nay a compassionate human being, this attack brings into sharp focus that the sickness which has been growing in the minds and hearts of radicalised extremists can reach out and strike at the heart of the Western world. As linguists, the boundaries of countries and different tongues do not affect the response we as Birmingham University students feel. That very day the French language students organised a demonstration of remembrance to be held in solidarity for those who lost their lives. In Paris, banners were held aloft proclaiming ‘We are not Afraid’, a potent symbol of how free speech and journalism has been bloodied yet shall not give in to fear. I have mentioned the power of social media and the response to this attack on what is fundamentally the basis of Twitter, Facebook and other sites, the freedom of expression. To voice opinions, beliefs and views to the world. Whilst Charlie Hebdo has been embroiled in controversy and I neither condemn nor commend this, they stand for satire and everything it represents. The condemnation of tyranny, extremism and hatred. As a student and young person, often, I find myself disassociating myself from the news that pours in from the Middle East and other war-stricken areas of the world yet this attack sparked defiance in me and my peers. Defiance of the desire of these terrorists to inspire fear amongst us. As I am sure you are aware, the men involved in the attack were killed today in a raid by French Police. Yet as a reader I take no joy in reading this information. The deaths of these two young men is just another casualty in a war which has claimed too many lives. A war between hatred and civilisation. Je suis Charlie was the image on the Charlie Hebdo website and I saw this echoed across a wide spectrum of social and digital media from politicians, journalists, writers and students. By reading this article, you the reader defy censorship, extremism and terrorism.
Nous sommes tous humaines. Todos seres humanos. We are all human.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham