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Black day for independent journalism

I'm in shock: 12 dead in horrific attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. - Just before the attack, it tweeted its latest cartoon: a cartoon showing the leader of IS expressing a New Year's wish.

Humour connects, humour fraternises, humour helps break taboos, humour puts painful life themes into perspective....

At least, that's what I've thought all my life, until 2005 when my worldview tilted. The attacks on the life of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the crushed fingers of Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, these were so many signs that freedom of expression is under serious threat. The barbaric attack today on the editors of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, is a terrifying low point in the history of free speech.

Two men shouting 'Allahu Akbar' killed ten editors and the two policemen guarding their premises after it had already been bombed in 2011 because of the publication of the issue Charia Hebdo. The death toll may still rise as some of the seriously injured are fighting for their lives. The perpetrators have not yet been caught.

French President François Hollande immediately rushed to the scene and tweeted:

François HollandeVerified account@fhollande

[Tweet "Aucun acte barbare ne saura jamais éteindre la liberté de la presse. Nous sommes un pays unis qui saura réagir et faire bloc."]

'No barbaric act will ever extinguish press freedom. We are a united country, which will respond en bloc.'

British Prime Minister David Cameron responded promptly:

David CameronVerified account@David_Cameron

The murders in Paris are sickening. We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.

Our own Prime Minister Mark Rutte responded two hours later:

Prime MinisterVerified account@MinPres

'Am stunned, horrific & cowardly act of terror in Paris affects us all. Netherlands stands shoulder to shoulder with France' (1/2)

Nice words, but how a free world can defend itself against the murderous lust of humourless barbarians is beyond me.

Many are calling on editors to publish all Charlie Hebdo satirical cartoons in and on their own medium. My gut says: do! My ratio says: won't a tsunami of reprinted cartoons be followed by another tidal wave of attacks?

We have our backs against the wall.

This is a very, very black day for independent journalism.




Thea Derks

Thea Derks studied English and Musicology. In 1996, she completed her studies in musicology cum laude at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in contemporary music and in 2014 published the critically acclaimed biography 'Reinbert de Leeuw: man or melody'. Four years on, she completed 'An ox on the roof: modern music in vogevlucht', aimed especially at the interested layperson. You buy it here: In 2020, the 3rd edition of the Reinbertbio appeared,with 2 additional chapters describing the period 2014-2020. These also appeared separately as Final Chord.View Author posts

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