“I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”
On 7 January 2015, a group of journalists, at work in their office in Paris, were brutally murdered.
Two armed men stormed the office of Charlie Hebdo, deliberating targeting the journalists working there - targeting them for doing their job, for writing and creating content that they believed in, content that they felt was important.
A satirical magazine, published weekly, Charlie Hebdo features cartoons and articles - it’s irreverent and deliberately non-conformist. Stridently sceptical, Charlie Hebdo is hyper-critical of all forms of extremism and religion.
The Charlie Hebdo team knew that they were being controversial – they had received numerous threats over the years, their office was under police protection.
On 7 January 2015, two gunmen forced their way into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire. Twelve people were killed – staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous, and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris, editors Elsa Cayat and Mustapha Ourrad, guest Michel Renaud, maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau, and police officers Brinsolaro and Merabet. Eleven people were wounded in the attack, four of them seriously.
The two gunmen were identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, which took responsibility for the attack.
You have to admire courageous editor Stephane Charbonnier who declared defiantly:
‘I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.’
The attack on Charlie Hebdo was an attack that was designed to publicly punish free speech.
There is only one way for journalists and media organisations around the world to respond, to commemorate the attack on Charlie Hebdo. We must continue take inspiration from Stephane Charbonnier and his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo. We must never submit to living on our knees.