France’s Day Of Mourning & Banishing Fear Is For All Of Us: Nous Sommes Tous Charlie

Editorial: This Sunday, we join the tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree in Paris and close by; Fear will not end our days. This Sunday, we join hands, hearts and minds with France and its people: Nous Sommes Tous Charlie

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Editorial: This Sunday, we join the tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree in Paris and close by; Fear will not end our days. This Sunday, we join hands, hearts and minds with France and its people: Nous Sommes Tous Charlie



The world is such a crazy place to live in with a lot of crazy people.

Lawrie Cox

And a world without humour is not a living place to be.
Je suis Charlie.


To say “I am Charlie” is to say that I would say terribly offensive things about a religion about which I know very little. That is most definitely not who I am. I respect all religions. As a Jew I know the terrible things that are said in my Bible. Therefore when terrible quotes from the Koran are put in the public view I see that as ignorant bigotry. I love to swim. I love swimmers. The Olympic boycotts surely taught us to keep politics out of the pool. Sorry Jim. Maybe I am just another grumpy old swimmer!

Craig Lord

gordon, I don’t think that’s what Je Suis Charlie means at all: it is to say that we value freedom, including freedom of expression, religious belief and much more, regardless of whether the legal choices of others would be our choices, regardless of whether you accept or reject the messages contained in cartoons/films/other forms of art. Many of the folk marching in Paris, in Dresden, in several others places in the world today would neither buy ‘Charlie’ nor find much favour with the contents therein but that isn’t the point: it is about the right for such things to be a part of this world. World sport as we know it (and the best of its values, such as fair play – and yes, there are bad aspects of sport, too) is possible because we live in a free world. Without it, there would be no competitive sport worth its salt: some things you simply cannot divorce. This transcends politics, in my view: it is about the right of all of us to live in the world we find acceptable within the bounds of the law. Allow that to be eroded and you wouldn’t have to worry about Olympic boycotts.


There are MUCH better examples of free speech. Speaking truth to power is a wonderful principle. Put yourself in the shoes of my Muslim friends who are terrified by “I am Charlie”. They hate the murderers in this but the God they love, fear and profoundly respect is blasphemed by Charlie and they see the world saying they are with Charlie’s words. That is how they take it. If you put yourself in their shoes you can get a glimpse of why they are afraid. Now I am off to the pool so perhaps I can wash away these political issues that must not divide us, eh?

Craig Lord

They should not divide us, gordon. I appreciate what you say but to me ‘Je Suis Charlie’ is standing up for tolerance, understanding, freedom of expression and intelligent response to the events in Paris in the face of anti-islamic marches of late – in Germany and elsewhere – that include a number of folk who would do well to remember that he of the amusingly short moustache and a penchant for the swastika would have also surely have shot the folk at Charlie Hebdo, where the victims were the first citizens in Europe to be massacred en masse for exercising freedom of expression since the nazis. I think your muslim friends had and have far more to fear from the fanatics flying an Islamic flag [in the way that IRA terrorists (among others) boycotted the Catholic faith (among others) and killed and maimed the innocent as they went] than a small team of cartoonists in Paris, regardless of how offensive certain images may have been, images that included Jewish leaders, The Pope, nuns, monks (much aimed at mocking poor response to sexual abuse claims etc), the Queen and many others down the years without us witnessing what we witnessed in France this week. There may well be ‘better’ examples of free speech but we should not imagine that those who shot the cartoonists would not shoot those better examples and the rest of us if we happened to have a point of view that differed from their own. Je Suis Charlie is much wider than the nature of some cartoons.
Enjoy the swim 🙂


Who defines “freedom, of speech”?

Is it ok to trash one religion and deeply insult its followers but NOT OK to even say one single negative thing about another religion, lest you be persecuted?

As often throughout human history, “freedom of anything” is defined by victors of wars.

Craig Lord

Aswimfan, each must define their own freedom of speech or anything else – that is what national laws and culture are about (and why France and many of its neighbours, find what happened this week unacceptable and worth standing up against). Of course, in some places in the world what people want is not what they get. The scenario you paint is the one being debated in Europe, where some feel that certain religious groups are afforded more sensibility than others (and others stretching to other groups in the community including those who don’t believe in a god at all). In this particular case, no religion was sacred as far as portrayal and caricature by the cartoonists. No religion was singled out in the thread of time – they all got it down the years along with many other topics and themes and politicians and people in various walks of life. The last part of your comment does not lead us to the conclusion that the “victors of war” are necessarily wrong, of course, the Holocaust being a very prime case in point.
[I have sent you a private response to your other note. Thanks]


A religion(and its Icons) is sacret for its followers.At some point, a part of a belief will be totally against other(in the same root religion or against another religion belief).
The muslims dont have the monopoly(at least, in historic context) of the Prophet, the same way christians dont have of Jesus.
Freedom of speech means no one have the MONOPOLY of the truth.
Just my two cents.

Lawrie Cox

My comment was the fact that it is offensive to utilise faith as justification for murder. Comment will be made on virtually all things in life that will offend someone that does not justify taking a life to defend the goodness of the faith.
I live in a broadly multicultural society with good friends of many faiths there are times where i have no doubt i will have offended by a comment or view held that does not mean that my friend will come for me with a weapon. We will no doubt talk it out and often apologies may occur due to the circumstance.
What i always find difficult to accept is that each faith espouses love and peace for your fellow human yet so many are hurt by those ‘enforcing’ one view of a faith. the reason for i am charlie is to say that we can exercise freedoms including speech without resorting to terror, you will not silence speech through terror.
It maybe political and hopefully the human race can progress after this tragedy rather than fall into backward faith thinking (across the board no group has a monopoly on forward thinking).


So, if you insult other’s religion it’s ok to shoot them. After all they insult your religion. Wow. Okay. What about debating them? Like in a form of discussion? Instead of using your gun as a tool to retaliation. That’s the real meaning of freedom.

Denis Serio

Nice words, Craig.

But, as a Reuters reporter and translator, a might have reported more than 100,000 deaths that attracted none or efemerous media and society attention.

I will only fully believe in this world when I witness 4 million people in Champs-Elysees because of a killing spree in Somalia.


Wow…no one ever said shooting is even remotely OK to insult a religion.

Again, interesting that my comments were deleted, but misleading and divisive comment such as “o, if you insult other’s religion it’s ok to shoot them” is allowed to appear.

And I totally agree with DDias that respect for each other is the key to harmonious society rather than thrashing each other, or insult a religion just because you can.


I concur Denis.

I have so many good friends working for international media covering many areas/countries where countless innocent children and women were killed on daily basis by operatives of countries who claim that they have the greatest “freedom of speech”

Like Denis Serio, I will wait when 4 millions Bostonians or New Yorkers march on their streets because of indiscriminate killings of those women and children.

Craig Lord

aswimfan: your second comment was not deleted; it never got published – and I sent you a mail to explain (if you supplied a correct email you will have received that mail) – you went well beyond the issue at hand and while I have no problem in whatever views you may have on any of that, much of what you wrote about would simply have invited vehement disagreement from many with religious views one way or another. That was not the point of registering a day of mourning that had far less to do with religion and far more to do with freedoms of speech and expression and cultural values/way of life that will not be shaken.

Craig Lord

Denis, the reason that won’t happen is because the foundation of feeling has very little to do with religion but to do with violence and brute force on the doorstep. When such things happen on the streets of Paris, Boston, London, etc, we can all expect to see what we saw in Paris. The people of France feel a direct connection to the victims of murder this past week and the murderers were French, too. In my role as a journalist down the years I, too, have covered the deaths of many thousands, in a working world well beyond the pool. The associations of people are far more complex than you paint, I believe. A great many people from Europe, US and elsewhere can also be found working tirelessly to resolve conflicts and help victims of brutality… and many places in Europe right now are accepting tens of thousands of political refugees, including many muslims, from conflict zones, many of which come down to people supposedly of the same religion killing each other. I understand what you mean but I also think that whole picture is far more complex than a simple wish for 4m on the streets of France to march for Somalia – of course, that is not going to happen, just as it won’t happen in Brazil or anywhere in Asian either. That does not mean to say that people don’t care about such things. 2000 people are said to have been massacred by an islamic fundamentalist group in Nigeria at he weekend… that will not result in a march of 4m in France, either, but you can be sure that people have noticed and that they care. What remains to be seen is millions marching in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the face of such atrocities as that which unfolded in Nigeria, marching and standing up against atrocities on their own doorstep. All for a different forum. Meanwhile, I uphold the right to note the day of mourning in France and the massive impact that events in and around Paris this past week have had and will continue to have for a vast swathe of our readers.

Clive Rushton

The problem is not straightforward and will not be easily solved as I am sure everyone recognizes.

I live in a predominantly Muslim country which is very well integrated and which extends rights to segments of the population, especially females, which would be alien to other Muslim societies. The integration can be experienced here in Bali to a greater extent than even the rest of the country – my next door neighbour is a Dutch Christian, his wife is Hindu, the next door, next door neighbours are Buddhist. A famous tourist spot nearby has five buildings of worship built literally next to each other – buses unload their passengers on the extensive common parking area and they walk the 20 or 30 meters between each of the buildings – an Islamic Mosque, a Hindu Temple, a Buddhist Temple, a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church (no Greek Orthodox Church or Jewish Synagogue – give them time!) A few years ago The Jakarta Post described the place as “a commitment to religious tolerance in the area,” and as a “unifying spot for many Balinese.” The various communities respect and help out each other – Muslims don’t switch on the loudspeakers for the call to prayer when the Hindu day of silence falls on a Friday, a Muslim helps train the Protestant choir for Catholic Christmas Mass, and Hindu penjor, decorated bamboo poles, are erected in front of the Christian church to mark Christmas Day, and so on.

In a place where the various religions and sects form such a communal congregation you would expect a congruence of abhorrence and horror at the murders, at the manner in which they were carried out, and at the selection of the specific victims.

However, talking to Muslim friends here reveals that the sense of insult provoked by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons is a very deep-seated pain and anger. The satire has attacked aspects of all religions and has not been restricted to depictions or descriptions concerning Islam but my friends cannot understand why anyone of any religion would not be mortally offended. So the pain is felt as a personal attack and as one which insults the very essence of their existence and purpose.

Additionally, and this is where the difficulty arises, I think, their value system appears to be completely unaligned with the traditional value systems of the Christian world, and, of course, Christian values appear to be completely unaligned with those of Islam, even though many of the concepts expounded in both The Qur’an and The Bible share common origins and both belief systems accept Jesus as a prophet of Allah/God. They, literally, really literally, see no difference in degree of ‘wrongness’ between publishing insulting drawings and killing the artists in retaliation and revenge.

That last sentence will probably reward re-reading. Even the murder of the Muslim security guard is viewed as justified and just, because he was, “protecting the artists.” To respond to Lawrie’s assertion, to my friends here it is NOT offensive to utilize faith as a justification for murder.

Respected business ‘guru’ Edgar Schein recently described culture to me in personal correspondence using a metaphor of a lily pond: “the leaves and blossoms on the surface are the visible artifacts which would not exist but for the nutrients in the water and mud.” The visible artifacts are the murders but the nutrients for those actions are belief systems which form a perceived reality and values which describe a desired reality. While the values here equate offensive cartoons and murder there is little hope of reconciliation and a peaceful, cooperative future; the deep rooted nature of the beliefs and values precludes their owners even seeking reconciliation.

Value systems are deeply rooted and almost impossible to change by discussion, ‘logic’ and evolution, much less manipulate or change by imposition. The problem, therefore, is not going away on either side.

The Charlie Hebdo murders have not moved Christians towards Islam and the demonstrations and remarkable shows of solidarity have not moved Islam towards Christianity. Lawrie quite rightly says, “ … you will not silence speech through terror,” but we seem to be at a crossroads where neither we will silence terror through speech.”

It is a very worrying development.

Denis Serio

Ok Craig. Agree about people. But what about media coverage? 2,000 feared dead in a Boko Haram massacre today. I’m hopeless in seeing it become headline around the world for a week.

We might see Nasdaq index become though, but not this massacre.

It happens because western media generally uses two different measurements about what’s important, and it has a heavy role in shaping world’s focus.

Craig Lord

Clive, a good overview of where the cultural/religious lines are drawn thanks – but the geography (social, cultural and religious) of all of this is important – “Even the murder of the Muslim security guard is viewed as justified and just, because he was, “protecting the artists.” To respond to Lawrie’s assertion, to my friends here it is NOT offensive to utilize faith as a justification for murder”.

The point in this case, I would suggest, is that it is not HERE … it is in Paris, in Europe in a place where a cartoon is a switch on a TV remote – if you don’t like it, don’t look at it… but the choice is there and the right to have that choice runs deeper than religion … and is supported by a great many muslims (witness the responses of Islamic Societies in GB, FRA and elsewhere those past few days) who want to lead peaceful lives here in Europe.

A few thousand folk used to read CH on a regular basis. Now, very many more will, even people who don’t particularly like it but want to say “this is our culture; these are our freedoms, gained over many centuries and not to be relinquished lightly”.

That culture includes: Murder is illegal, criminal and neither acceptable nor justifiable “here” – and that is what all must respect and tolerate. If Yannick Agnel wishes to read cartoons that poke fun at various leaders and religious figures around the world, he has a right to do so in law and culture HERE. If h goes to some parts of the world and wishes to drink a her on the street, he may not be able to do so because that is not acceptable THERE … and that’s ok and all should tolerate that.

Some of this does indeed represent worrying developments, as you say, because value systems in clear conflict are deep-rooted – but intelligent response is key: the terrorists seek to divide, not only one religion and another, one people and another but people of the same faith and nationality.

Where you are, your penultimate paragraph may well be true but here in Europe efforts are being made on all sides to ensure that is not the case and to ensure that what you describe in your opening comments is achievable far and wide, however difficult that may be.


Clive Rushton, yours words are the first true words spoken here, for me. I also have lived in a predominantly Muslim area and was tolerated for being very different. I deeply appreciate what you have said.

Craig Lord

Denis, I see the Nigeria story far and wide and I see this kind of line too:

As far as I can see, it is getting widespread coverage (several reports and updates rolling out every half an hour on some news channels ) but no, it will not be subject to the same kind of intense daily debate in Europe and elsewhere for a variety of reasons, including “paris is on our doorstep” and what happened is a direct challenge to everyone’s way of life – HERE, where the media from HERE is reporting to those who live HERE.

I see the terrible atrocities in Nigeria being treated as ‘Important” as you put it, by many media outlets – but it won’t stop people going about their daily lives in Europe, Brazil, Asia, the USA etc… and it won’t prompt mass gatherings in the streets of Paris and I don’t find that hard to understand.

The responsibility of ‘leaders’ is something else: “A French-led initiative has called for Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad to contribute 700 troops each to a multinational force against Boko Haram, but no country has implemented the plan.”

Craig Lord

My words and those of Denis and others are true, too, gordon. It is what we believe, it is what we express truly and freely. In London, we have lived for many years with many cultures and religions all about us and for the most part there is harmony, friendship and tolerance despite obvious times of trouble and conflict and difficulty when worlds and value systems collide. I have also lived in four countries in my life and have always been made welcome and always respected local culture, law and custom. It is the least any of us should expect.


Clive Rushton,

I also live in Jakarta, Indonesia. And I am glad you wrote.

In Islam, a murder of an innocent person, regardless of faith and belief, is strictly Forbidden.
It is in the Qur’an: “to murder one innocent person is equal to murdering the whole humanity”, with promise of severe punishments in after life.

And I don’t believe when Europeans say they protect freedom of expression. You can thrash Islam any way you want, but in particular countries, you can be jailed for saying holocaust did not happen.

Craig Lord

aswimfan, thanks for the clarification. Beyond that, you may believe Europeans or not but freedom of expression is hugely important to Europeans and you ought to respect that. Any should indeed face the threat of jail for seriously denying the holocaust in my opinion though many get away with it all the time (and none of that prevents CH and others poking fun at aspects of life among orthodox jews, at rabbis and jewish mother-in-laws, for example – and none of it justifies murder, of course, as you have previously noted yourself).

There are also fairly strict laws and rules in Europe forbidding the incitement of violence (not as used as some would like but it is used and in realms well beyond religion). Many argue that Europe has been too soft for many a long year with this kind of man, for example:

He lived among us and plotted our deaths, it would seem.

As the judge put it: “The sheer point of your crimes is the killing of others and the destruction of a way of life, our way of life. This is unacceptable in a civilised society.”

That is what Je Suis Charlie is all about.

Meanwhile, for the most part, it simply isn’t true that Islam is singled out for particular ‘trashing’ in the way you suggest. Islamic fundamentalists and associated intolerants, nutters and murderers (and the finding of such things acceptable) do indeed come in for a deal of trashing as have many other leaders and religious leaders and assorted others down the years, including the Catholic Church, the Pope, de Gaul and on and on and on – and few in Europe would wish it any other way.

Denis Serio

Whatever our opinion is, It’s always very pleasurable to debate with such skilled interlocutors.

Craig Lord

Likewise, Denis

Clive Rushton

ASwimFan: “In Islam, a murder of an innocent person, regardless of faith and belief, is strictly Forbidden.”

Yes, indeed.

My point was that, amazingly to me, my friends do not consider the cartoonists innocent.


aswimfan, that newspaper they massacred also made fun of all religion not only Islam. There’s no excuse nor any justification about killing innocence.



That is very true. Just like in any other religion, many Muslims either do not fully understand or practice the whole context or teaching of their faith.
The Qur’an – words of God believed by muslims – even says very clearly that even in wars, women, children, worship buildings (regardless of faith) and priests/imams etc, should be spared.

And Pol, again I hope you read my comment that in Islam a murder of innocent person is never justified. Therefore you have Islamic organizations in Europe and the USA condemning the killings.

However, the governments of democratic countries who are so proud of their “freedom of expression, and democratically elected by their own citizens, had no trouble in killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people of other countries.

Craig Lord

aswimfan, on your last point, even if that interpretation is accepted, we must also then note that undemocratic countries and unelected regimes have also done their fair share of butchering folk, including their own people.
Many thanks for your notes and clarifications on the Qur’an.


Clive, I am surprised you are amazed. Insulting the Prophet (pbuh) is the ultimate insult in Islam. Many Muslims around the world love the Prophet (pbuh) more than they love their own families. These cartoonists challenged that belief and showed little respect to the most severe crime in Islam.

Are gays “Innocent” is politicised Islam? No. Are adulterers “Innocent” in politicised Islam? No.

My point is, be careful how you Interpret the teachings of ANY Holy book as the phrase “Innocent” (often) only applies to those who adhere to the teachings of said book, not those who ‘go-against’ it’s teachings.


I am so impressed with the discussion we are having. It is the most civil discussion I have seen on this topic. Swimming is more than a sport, isn’t it?

Craig Lord

Yes, it is, gordon 🙂

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