Je Suis Charlie… It’s a slogan of solidarity that has been bantered around Facebook pages, unity marches and protests across the globe in the wake of the tragic massacre at French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last week. Of course, it also found its way to Ibiza, via a rally in Vara de Rey on Sunday, attended by hundreds of Ibiza’s cross-cultural citizens, wanting to show their support, outrage and unity with the world.
A huge percentage of my friends became Charlie, according to their Facebook profile pictures. Apparently George Clooney is now Charlie, as is the missus (of course – she was probably Charlie first). In fact, half the celebrities gracing the red carpet at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards were Charlie. At the same time, more than a million Parisian demonstrators – alongside a handful of world leaders (like them or not) – were Charlie at Paris’s Place de la République during a solidarity march. French basketballers playing for US teams were Charlie for the duration of their weekend matches. Even little Maggie Simpson is Charlie, waving the slogan on a flag in the latest episode of the long-running cartoon.
And so the more I saw it, the more I read about it, the more I thought about it, I couldn’t help but wonder… Je Suis Charlie? Am I Charlie? Should I be Charlie? Do I even know really know who Charlie is?
I mean, I’m (sort of) a journalist… By no means political (I don’t even vote!), very rarely newsworthy and – despite a penchance for making fun of Luciano and Richie Hawtin – certainly not satirical. But the fact is, I go to work every day, and armed with nothing but my brain and computer, I write whatever the damn hell I want.
Because I can. Because freedom of expression exists. (And also because I’m lucky enough to have a boss who pays me to do so).
When I think about a world where people can be killed as they go about their daily editorial meeting or while shopping for groceries, I feel physically sick. I can’t understand what compels one human being to act in such a barbaric manner towards another. It absolutely astounds me. Right here and now, this blog isn’t the place to go into detail on how I feel about the provocative content and irreverent views expressed by the fallen cartoonists, journalists and their colleagues at Charlie Hebdo (see above point about my journalistic skills – and then feel free to Google the many, many other more articulate writers who can encapsulate the moment better than I), but it is a place to offer our condolences and sympathy to the families, friends and co-workers of the fallen.
But because I am a writer, and I can write whatever the damn hell I want, today I choose to write #JeSuisCharlie. As the saying goes, the pen (or keyboard, as the case may be) is mightier than the sword, so if you believe in defending freedom of expression and freedom of the press, Tweet #JeSuisCharlie now, while you can, post your thoughts on Facebook and Instagram the images you wish to be seen. Ultimately, #JeSuisCharlie will become much bigger than the work of Charlie Hebdo, a (hashtagged) symbol of liberty, and even if you are just one little person with a little blog on a tiny island in the Mediterranean, like me, your voice deserves to be heard, without fear of retribution.
Call us blessed, call us lucky or call us clever, those of us who live here in Ibiza, should feel so happy and grateful to live in a place where live and let live seems to have worked out just fine for the past 60 odd years and continues to do so. Sure, we have spats with our neighbours and disputes over loud music, stray cats and EDM vs techno, but let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, this is really nothing. REALLY. NOTHING. (Now go hug your neighbour. And his cat.).
‘All is forgiven’ says the front cover of today’s ‘survivors’ edition of Charlie Hebdo. But it will never, ever be forgotten.