Christ, what a terrible day.
What can you say about these people?
What can you say about people who will kill a man just because he thinks differently? Who will shoot in the head a defenceless man lying on the ground? Who will kill a man who does nothing but draws a line on paper that disagrees with their world view?
Yesterday was a shocking day for France. These terrorists are not just killers but murderers. Not just murderers but executioners. Not just executioners but assassins. They chose their targets carefully, and through sheer hatred – men who had committed no crime, but reserved the right to say, and draw, what they thought, as is their right in a democracy.
As fellow journalists, we feel it keenly. The victims were like us. These were people sitting in an editorial meeting, on an ordinary day, as we ourselves have done so many hundreds of times in other newspaper offices, in other cities. The ordinariness of such a day, ending in fear and tragedy for no good reason at all. It beggars belief. So many bereaved and orphaned children, for what? Who kills cartoonists, for Christ’s sake?
France has long defended freedom of speech and Charlie Hebdo takes the piss out of everyone – Jews, Christians, Buddhists, politicians. It reserves the right to be offensive. It is one of things for which it is loved. And never, ever, has this offence been a killing issue until now, with these Islamic extremists.
Now it is the moderate Muslims who will pay for it as the right-wing nut-jobs exact their revenge on everyone they can get their hands on – the housewives and the taxi drivers, the shopkeepers and the children. This terrorist attack plays straight into the hands of the Right.
And perhaps we British too will suffer – because there are plenty of Le Pen scum who would love to kick us out of this country. My own commune did not shift to the National Front in recent elections, but all around us are communes that did – something we would not have thought possible when we moved here under Mitterand’s Socialist government so many years ago.
Life in France feels bleak today. We can only hope that they catch these murderers soon and bring them to something approaching justice.