PARIS — Everywhere I walk, there are signs of support and unity.
“Je suis Charlie.”
“Nous sommes Charlie.”
I am — we are — Charlie.
The signs are posted in shop windows. They cover the walls of newspaper stands. The words are etched onto walls. They are emblazoned on the front of several Parisian newspapers. At Place de la République, the site of several rallies in recent days, a pencil with “Je suis Charlie” written on it is affixed to a statue.
Paris has changed since I arrived two Sundays ago. After the slaughter of 12 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday, the shooting of a police officer on Thursday and the killing of four more civilians at a kosher supermarket on Friday, the city is in mourning.
The massacre at Charlie Hebdo — which left eight journalists, one janitor, one visitor and two police officers dead — struck at the core of French society. As someone put it to me, the attack was a blow to the heart of treasured French humor.
While the attacks have prompted reactions across the country — France is now at its highest level of security alert and armed forces stand guard throughout several areas of Paris — the country has remained resilient, and is fighting back.
Millions of people have shown their support for the freedom of speech that Charlie Hebdo represents. On Sunday, over 1.5 million people, including numerous world leaders, marched in Paris; they were joined by millions of others around the globe.
On Wednesday, when Charlie Hebdo’s most recent issue was published — a print run of 5 million, as opposed to the usual 60,000 — thousands of people waited in line to purchase a copy. When I tried to buy a copy at several local newsstands later in the day, I was told to come back tomorrow; the issue had sold out by midday across the city.
I, like many others, stood in line to buy a copy of Charlie Hebdo because I wanted to support their right to freely express their thoughts. And when I try to purchase an issue again today, I will do so because freedom of speech is not an ideal I will surrender.
In this way, I am Charlie. And that is how I plan to stay.
Harry Cooperman, a College junior, was the city news editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian in 2014. He is studying abroad in Paris for the semester.Comments powered by Disqus
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