Letter to the Editor: From Ink to Blood: A Tribute to the Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack


Clémentine Pougnet

I am not a journalist, I am not into politics, and I am not a good critic of the brainwashing that media does us. I do not want to write an over-developed analysis on what happened, or how, or why. But, I am two things: I am proud of being a citizen of France, and I am proud of living in a country where the freedom of speech is not prohibited. This is a fundamental right, anchored in the democracy. On, Wednesday Jan. 7, 2015, at 11:30 AM in Paris, two people who pretended to revenge their God tried to snatch this right away.

I felt completely shocked reading the news. “A terrorist attack in Paris killed twelve people: cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo and two policemen.” The next day we could read: “A policewoman was murdered.” The day after: “Hostage taking in a supermarket.” Everything punctuated with attacks in mosques, and other marks of violence all over the country. 17 victims. Or, should I say, 66 million.

Everything started with the bloody terrorist attack that killed policemen and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo who were just… drawing. Is it a terrible sin to draw? Yes, they were using a pen to draw stuff about religion. They were doing their jobs as cartoonists in a satirical newspaper, under a democracy that allow the freedom of speech. They were just using pens, broken by Kalachnikovs. I never read the Bible, the Torah or the Quran. But I know one thing: none of these imply to kill others for a God, or a religious belief. Islamists are not Muslims for sure. My thoughts are obviously for the victims and their families, for policemen who died in their exercise of protecting the country, but also to every Muslim who is again and again discriminated against because their beliefs are unfortunately linked with the radical Islamism.

I first realized the impact this attack had by the large amount of posts on social media. “Je suis Charlie” is everywhere. Charlie is everybody. You are Charlie. They wanted to kill Charlie, a symbol of the freedom of speech, but actually, they failed. They failed, because people are demonstrating in every single city, and all over the world, from London to San Francisco, from Sydney to Rome. Those terrorists cannot win. I feel proud to see how much French people care for their country. How much they cannot accept France to be hurt with such an arbitrary violence. I’m proud to see every religion marching in the same direction, holding their hands, hoping for a better future. I have never seen such a wave of hope, mixing with anger and sadness.

The Republican march that occurred on Sunday was declared as the biggest one since the freedom of France after long years of occupation during the Second World War. The Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president were on the same line, as if their own opposition did not matter on that day. They wanted to divide us, but they failed again. Some people said that freedom of speech should sometimes not cross certain borders, or that Charlie Hebdo should not have gone so far in their cartoons. In a way, I totally understand that what may make some people laugh can offend others. This is the price to pay to live in a free country. It’s worth it. But a pen cannot hurt as much as a Kalachnikov. You cannot answer to ink with blood.

I won’t end this article with a common quote said by an important thinker about the freedom of speech, about violence, about blah blah blah.

A drawing is strong enough.



(Cartoon by Michael Shaw)