Freedom of speech was never meant to protect the popular opinions. It’s not for vague or hazy points about weak subjects. It’s meant to protect any and all controversial topics, satires and commentaries. The most controversial among them being religion.
The shooting at the satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France shows a great violation of France’s freedom of speech. Cartoonists had drawn cartoons featuring Muhammad, the father of Islam. What followed these cartoons was what BBC calls, “three days of terror.”
Following the shooting, the manhunt for the suspects of the attack, Cherif and Said Kouachi, led to the siege of a printing store, as well as a hold-up in a kosher market in Paris by muslim, Amedy Coubaly demanding the Kouachi brother’s release.
The attacks resulted in the death of the Kouachi brothers as well as 16 innocent individuals. Coubaly was also shot by the police, but his female accomplice Hayat Bommeddienne is said to have fled to Syria.
What has resulted from these cartoonists’ commentaries is an extreme violation of an individual’s freedom of speech. The attacks force other big journalist companies to consider what they should publish, in fear of experiencing the same result. But this is a ridiculous outcome and we are not the only ones to think so.
The attacks have raised a city-wide movement, spreading to other countries including Montreal, Canada. Protestors hold up signs saying Je suis Charlie as citizens express their remorse and frustrations at the attacks. They also hold up red pens, in favour of journalists, saying that they support their right of freedom of speech.
While a huge step forward for the freedom of speech, the movement threatens to further spread islamophobia and prejudice against French muslims. This problem should be fading but is instead on the rise in several developed countries, including the United States.
Coincidentally, last week (January 23, 2015) the United Nation’s held their first anti-Semitism meeting. Saudi Arabian ambassador, Abdallah Moualimi, took advantage of the meeting to put islamophobia along the same lines of anti-Semitism. Moualimi said that hate crimes based on religion– whether anti-Semitic or Islamophobic– are all linked and therefore should be addressed in similar ways.
What should be addressed by the Parisian attacks and the anti-semitic meeting is that while religious conflict continues to be an issue, we as a united world should work together to become more tolerant. Not only to preserve our religious beliefs but to ensure the freedom of the media and prevent the Charlie Hebdo attacks from scaring other journalists away from using their freedom of speech.