By Elvis-wura Towolawi
The recent attack in Paris on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebd by some extremist elements has left 12 people dead. Among the dead are: Stephane Charbonnier, Editor-in-chief, 3 cartoonists, and 2 police officers.
Now, the thrust of this blog-piece is to condemn the attack as deplorable, needless and primitive, as well as inimical to free expression which forms the bedrock of every virile democracy.
Fundamentally, the attack on the magazine’s editorial team and cartoonists is a cowardly bid to muzzle the press, albeit, Charlie Hebd, which is a unique ‘free speech paper’ given its unconventional way of publishing. In fact, the offices of the magazine were firebombed in 2011 following a cartoon poking jokes at Prophet Muhammad. The attack then was done to subject it to fear from expressing itself. Such extremism, and of whatever colour and form is what Charlie Hebd satirizes in order to build a more tolerable and freer society.
Democracy cannot survive and thrive without free expression. The right to free expression as enshrined, protected, and promoted under human rights regime all over the world includes the right to hold and express views including opinions that “offend, shock, or disturb”. If it is found defamatory – file a suit against the publisher! Embarking on such heinous course is a mark that the word got home!
Sadly, it appears journalists and other free speech advocates are fast becoming endangered species in a supposed free world. Sometime in April 2012, ThisDay office in Abuja, Nigeria was bombed by Islamic terrorist sect, Boko Haram for publishing against them; and the Kaduna offices of ThisDay and Sun Daily papers suffered the same fate. It is high time the free world rose to confront this growing tyranny against free expression; for without free expression, democracy will be like a house built on sand.
Je Suis Charlie!