Freedom, Paris & Charlie Hebdo

The devastating attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris serves as a reminder that freedom of expression is fragile, and that those who defend it often do so at a risk.

On the 7th of January, gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo office on Paris’ right bank killing 12 people and wounding 11 others.  Eight of the casualties were employees of the magazine company, whilst two were police officers.

According to the BBC, France is now on a high terror alert as the hunt continues for the gunmen. Vigils are being held in Paris and around the world to pay tribute to those who were killed in the attack, and to show support for the freedom of expression. On the 11 January, major rallies of national unity took place across France and indeed throughout Europe in what French officials labelled the largest public rallies since WWII with an estimated 4.4 million taking part, including over 40 world leaders.

A trend started shortly after the attack on social media and on the streets in Paris, with many carry signs or using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie – meaning I am Charlie.

The streaming of emotion and support continued when the first issue of the Charlie Hebdo magazine since the shootings sold out with over 5 million copies in 6 different languages, compared to the usual French-only 60,000. 

While France has a long history of terrorism, this is the first large scale attack on a media office in central Paris. France ranks 56th of 162 countries on the Global Terrorism Index. Last year there were 5 attacks across France which caused zero fatalities. The largest terrorist attack in France over the last decade took place in 2012, with a series of shootings in Toulouse and Montauban that killed seven people.

As details unfold about the attack on Charlie Hebdo, we join those around the world who stand in support of freedom of expression.

The Free Flow of Information is one of the eight key pillars upon which peaceful societies flourish. Although the attack is devastating, responses to this attack in Paris and across the world shows us that the right to freedom of expression is something that is cherished, and that we can all stand up for. 

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Global Terrorism Index Report

17,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks last year, that’s 61% more than the previous year. Get the facts on terrorism with the 2014 Global Terrorism Index Report.

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