Paris has been in mourning since Wednesday, when gunmen stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing ten staff members and two police officers. Hundreds of people joined a vigil in London to mourn the victims of the shooting, with vigils continuing to be held up and down France.
The assassinations at Charlie Hebdo were not just an assault on human life, but on freedom of speech and expression – the same rights that allow us to paint, photograph, design, write and create art. So we've reached out to designers and creatives across France and wider Europe who are moved and appalled by the deaths. Below are their responses and their messages of solidarity with France and Charlie Hebdo.
Creative director at Balmain
Of course, I was shocked and saddened by yesterday’s tragic events. I find it hard to believe that even today people still need to fight for their basic right to express themselves. This is, after all, the land of Voltaire and the Rights of Man – we already have a long history of fighting for those basic rights!
Every great piece of art is political. After so many legendary artists have given their very lives to defend their basic right to express themselves, I find it amazing to see the same basic battle still being played out. We need to remember that Charlie Hebdo is a question of basic human rights, specifically the freedom to express oneself — it is not, in any way, a conflict between cultures or religions — and those that try to make this into that, well, they should be ashamed.
All extreme beliefs, wherever they may come from, are dangerous. I am proud to see the French people in the streets, showing solidarity. Along with my fellow citizens, I stand with those who defend basic human rights, freedom and art. My thoughts are with the victims’ friends and families.
SIMON PORTE JACQUEMUS
YESTERDAY I WAS SHOCKED, I WAS ANGRY, I WAS DISMAYED.
TODAY I FEEL SAD, BUT I FEEL BROTHERLY, I FEEL STRONG, I FEEL FRENCH.
TOMMOROW, PLEASE LOVE.
What happened this week in France is a tragedy. The people assassinated were not dangerous. They were humorists, artists, humanists, kind people who dedicated their lives to fight for our liberties, using satire and humour to talk about subjects of grave importance in our society. Wolinski, Cabu, Charb, they were all characters I was familiar with since my childhood.
This Wednesday they were slaughtered, literally, with no chance of survival. This is unacceptable, shocking, alarming, but the most dangerous aspect of it is the climate of fear that it is prone to establish. Some people say Charlie Hebdo shouldn't have published satirical drawings of the prophet, insinuating that they were kind of "looking for trouble" - a reaction which is in most cases lead by ignorance, the same one you find for instance when a victim of rape is accused of having 'looked for trouble' by wearing an outfit considered too provocative. Similarly, papers around the world dared not publish the actual drawings, in fear of becoming a target themselves.
To me this is the real danger: fear is everywhere and spreads like a disease. This week an essential part of our democracy was killed, a voice that cannot be replaced. These men were unique in their own style, they were innocent, funny troublemakers, seekers of freedom and joy, who wanted us to laugh and live a full intelligent life. It is our duty to make sure their death isn't for nothing.
The horrific murder of journalists and great creative minds of Charlie Hebdo by those terrorists is the saddest event that has happened in France for decades and totally broke our hearts. Our first words must go to the families and friends of the victims, I offer my sincere condolences to them.
The other thing we would say is that we should all learn from this terrible experience and all get united to condemn and ban any type of extremism. FREEDOM is our ultimate right, TOLERANCE and BROTHERHOOD are our keys to PEACE and peace is our key to HAPPINESS.
For the last decade we've heard media and politicians from the 'west' and the 'east' spreading FEAR and HATE in the heart of people.
Most people on the planet just want to be FREE and HAPPY right? So why don’t we just start spreading LOVE again?
Well let's start now!
Love from Paris!
PS: Let's listen to "Imagine" by John Lennon.
I am French and a woman. I was lucky enough to grow up in a free country. I never had to fight for my freedom of speech or opinion, nor for my right to be educated.
This is my treasure, this is our most precious treasure. I believe in these values and so many people do just as much. I am truly devastated and all my thoughts are for the victims and their families, there are no words to express how much they will be missed.
Ideas don’t break, ideas don’t die. Charlie became immortal yesterday and I hope that this terrible day will make us cherish and protect our freedom with even more wit and humour. My drawing (see top of article) was a spontaneous reaction, I didn’t expect it would have such an echo. I can only hope it will inspire people to use their pencils too and that there will be thousands of drawings like this very soon.
Lucille did not want her photo published for this article
I'm just devastated. This tragedy happened a block away from my house. People are in complete panic here. It is a terrifying reality we live in. The only comforting thing is that there is a feeling of unity and an overall consciousness of peace, a sort of positive bond over the hate. Everyone is just shocked and sad. I've been having insane panic attacks and I'm still crying writing this now.
Founder of Ed Banger Records
Here is how I would like to contribute to this article. It’s the ending credit of the most famous TV program for children in France – RÉCRÉ A2. The cartoon legend Cabu who died yesterday used to be the main man of this TV show. I grew up with him and his drawings.
He did this little sequence – on the TV screen you can read "c’est fini" (the end) I'm not sure but it even sounds like Jean Michel Jarre (a French ambient composer) did the music!
This is my contribution, please let's share the video.
Melody's Echo Chamber
I don't really know what to say... We're all in shock here... I think I'd need more time and perspective to understand how an attack like this happened and not just let my anger speak.
I think we need to try and stay in a positive energy... of love and empathy for the friends and families of the victims who will have to deal with such a heavy and almost impossible mourning. But also to find a supernatural strength to forgive these extremist monsters. What happened is a horrible, cowardly, and stupid act.
I know French people won't let this attack scare them, and that everyone will continue expressing and creating in absolute freedom like we always have, in phase with our country's ancestral values. And I know that French people won't wrongly link what happened to all Muslims, or to Islam itself.
I invite everyone to have a thought of love for the injured ones, but also, if you can, for these monsters. The world would be a better place if these kind of extremely violent people were brought up in a healthier and more loving environment, like we have had the chance to.
QUENTIN DE BRIEY
I'm glad you took the decision at the magazine not to remain silent about this extremely complicated situation. It's another extremely sad day today regarding the respect and the tolerance we have for each other on this planet. I really hope all this leads to a global awareness of the problem that needs solving here and that we will be able to all coexist in democracy and enjoy each other's culture in peace sometime soon. Ignorance is the true problem and we are all responsible. We must stop living and consuming passively, blind to the possible consequences of our acts any more – we are all responsible for our society.
Fashion editor, L'Express
What has stricken me the most about yesterday's events, even more than the horror of what just happened, is the incredible way in which Parisians (and particularly the French press) have responded. Far from being scared or from reacting in violent ways, they have all come together in defence of the democratic values that define France.
The rassemblement (vigil) last night was very sober: no screaming, no tears, just a very dignified and brave stand against extremism and violence. Yesterday evening, you could really feel a sense of union among the Parisians. The words "liberté, égalité, fraternité" really had a meaning. I found this really moving and I have to say (even if I'm not French myself) I'm really proud of France today.
Artist and filmmaker
The horrific events that took place yesterday in Paris slaughtered a piece of our social consciousness and one of our most powerful tools as a society – dissent. It crushed my soul. Progress will always awaken the hate and fear in ignorance. Our regressive decay of intellectualism and regrowth of censorship is birthing a new breed of hate whose views of race, gender, sexuality and liberal thought are becoming a holy war of its own. Bash back by preaching acceptance to our future generations. Teach them to celebrate expression, love, sex, gender, diversity, progress and life.
BERTRAND LE PLUARD
It’s always been there but no one saw it coming until it was here. The day before yesterday, no one was Charlie but today, the mobilisation is huge, a lot of people are Charlie, but not everybody. Some think what happened is only justice.
So what about tomorrow, who’s gonna be Charlie? Who’s gonna push away hate and fear from the heart of everybody? Who’s gonna protect the lost souls from a fanatic answer? Who’s gonna take care of the weak? Who’s gonna pay attention to freedom? Who’s gonna make us feel reassured? Who’s gonna ring the alarm before the fire burns? Who’s gonna guarantee we can make fun of everything?
One needs to understand that Charlie Hebdo is a French magazine with a typically Gallic sense of humour. The type of humour that came directly from the horror of WW2, that came from the "NEVER AGAIN" motivation, that came from sexual liberation, that came from solidarity and the rejection of hate. A sense of humour as a weapon to build a new society full of idealism. It’s not a surprise, idealism is gone, the system is exhausted and the same players shoot again. The death of carefreeness.
So please, let’s not forget again how everything happens. Don’t let anybody use crime and cross-community violence to switch on the Hate Mode between people. Stay awake!
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot