Ever since the attacks the 7th of January we are all Charlie, we are all Ahmed. I also use the hashtags #jesuischarlie and #jesuisahmed, because I support freedom of speech and I condemn the terrorist attacks.
However, I don’t feel comfortable using them, because I’m not really Charlie or Ahmed, am I? Could I ever find the courage Ahmed Merabet showed? Am I as brave as the people who died defending their principles? Or even as brave as the people who survived and went back to the office (or to the offices of Libération) to continue doing their jobs? I sincerely hope I never have to find out, because I’m pretty sure I’m not and I couldn’t.
Je ne suis pas d’accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire” – Voltaire (supposedly… origin unclear. Translation: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’)
Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb), Jean Cabut (Cabu), Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac (Tignous), Bernard Maris, Philippe Honoré, Michel Renaud, Elsa Cayat, Mustapha Ourrad, Frédéric Boisseau, Ahmed Merabet, Franck Brinsolaro , and too many others have become victims of intolerance. Meanwhile they have also become martyrs for freedom of expression, heros of creative freedom.
And thus, a vicious circle of violence was supposed to begin. But instead of countering this act of violence with defeat and counter-violence, the artist world has stood up and defended themselves the best way they know how, with satire, pen and paper, and impassioned creativity.
It didn’t take long for kindred spirits to show support and solidarity through cartoons and hard-hitting critical remarks. The Internet was flooded with satirical illustrations, supportive drawings and quotes that support freedom of speech and condemn any form of violence.
And there will be more to come…
Newspapers and magazines around the world dedicated their covers to Charlie Hébdo. Websites payed their respects.
Graffiti artists are paying their respects as well by spraying beautiful hommages on walls and buildings alike. Stencil artists are even calling for action and are making stencils available for the public
On that note, I do hope peaceful and proud demonstrations and creative output will keep on setting the tone. Justice will hopefully prevail and Nelson Mandela couldn’t have been more right:
. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
For more responses of the art community be sure to check Creative Bloq..