“A La Carte Paris est Charlie”: an insider’s perspective

Wherever you live, you will have already seen extensive media coverage of the recent events in and around Paris. So I will just add a few words of my own, in the hope of offering you an insider’s perspective.

A very worrying week of highly targeted attacks ended on a high note with the historic rallies of Sunday 11th January, in Paris, in France and around the world.

In Paris alone, an estimated 1.3 Million people of all ages, races, nationalities, political inclinations and religions came together peacefully on the boulevards from Place de la République to Place de la Nation. Such a union is completely unprecedented.

jesuischarlie

charlie5

A man holds a giant pencil as he takes part in a Hundreds of thousands of French citizens solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris

Just as significantly, no less than 50 heads of state joined the Paris rally, marching the street in a united front for freedom of expression and against extremisms of all kind. It was heartening to see so many world leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, putting aside their differences and marching for the common cause of freedom of expression, fraternity, peace and tolerance.

François Hollande on Paris march

On Sunday 11th January, Paris was the capital of the world.

I felt a glow of pride to see the human race’s ability to unite in the most powerful way imaginable, across all nationalities, races and religions, in a world which – hopefully – will never be the same again.

JeSuisCharlie5

Extremism and terror is a world problem, against which heads of state are cooperating in a united and concerted manner, and with a renewed determination and vigor. Going forward, the massive rallies in Paris and around the world will doubtless help ensure that all possible means and measures are now taken to ensure the security of everyone in both Paris and in the civilized world.

It is perhaps ironic that in seeking to spread terror, the extremists instead sparked one of the greatest unions in human history. Sunday 11th January saw a historic defeat of terror and a historic victory of freedom, tolerance and peace.

Please do post your comments below, as I would welcome a sharing of different opinions and perspectives.

Alex Wagner
Founder of A La Carte Paris

153 Comments Add yours

  1. fitzmary says:

    Ah, Alex….to many of us Paris has long been the capitol of our alter/other/fantasy world. For most of us, nothing will ever change that magic, you can rest assured. Mary Fitzpatrick Dallas, Texas “One cat just leads to another. Like saying you are going to have just one drink.” ~Ernest Hemingway

  2. beverlyconey says:

    Alex, Thanks for your beautiful, heartfelt message. Your A la Carte Paris clients are with you in spirit. Paris will always be my favorite city in the world. Peace to you and your staff and families.

  3. Ellen A. says:

    Very well said, Alex. I wish I could have been there on Sunday for this historic show of brotherhood. Will come back to Paris as soon as I can. We are not afraid. The French police and military are especially to be commended for their swift work in taking down the terrorists and in ensuring that this beautiful demonstration of unity was completely safe for everyone. We must remember and honor Ahmed Merabet especially, the Muslim officer who gave his life defending freedom of speech.

  4. shutteroo says:

    Janice and I are with you, your family, and your staff, all the way, in spirit, and on our local front. Thank you for an excellent blog entry. We have already reserved our Apartment for this years visit. Life goes on, and we will not be deterred. Peace.

  5. Dan O says:

    I have strong views about western immigration policies allowing people like this to enter our countries. As far as I am concerned, stand up western countries, and filter the bad ones out of our societies and send them back to their “precious” caliphate.

    regards from OZ

    1. B says:

      Immigration? I understand the perp was born in Paris.

  6. Bill Bray says:

    I just love Paris and felt so much for the way the people responded. Fantastic stuff and look forward to my next visit later this year. Stand strong

  7. Louise says:

    Je suis Charlie. Nothing will dampen the joy of Paris. Alex we will be back as soon as we can to enjoy the beauty of Paris. We always felt welcomed and safe thanks to Parisians. From Australia we are with you to enjoy life, freedom and the joy of experiences x

  8. Philip Gosling says:

    It is a pity that 25% of the French people’s leaders were not invited – Le Pen. Hardly a gesture of a united country when a key leader is ignored – especially when the march claims to be about Free Speech. Free Speech for everyone who says what I want to hear is the message sent out. Political correctness lies at the root of much of the alienation in French Society and to perhaps a lesser extent in other European countries. If politicians cannot put their country first in circumstances like this when can they?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Le Pen’s place is not with world leaders. A man or political party that proclaims muslisms in general as stupid and as not desired in France, as well as describes jews as criminals abuses the idea of Free speech and commits a crime.

  9. Thank you for a positive post —

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.,

  10. christina2211 says:

    It was heartening to see that so many people came out in the cold to march in support of free speech and tolerance. But, was that the only reason they did so? I was somewhat dismayed to see that the much lauded world leaders included:

    The Prime Minister of Turkey, the country which has jailed more journalists than anyone in the world
    The Foreign Minister of Egypt, which has Peter Greste and two other Al Jazeera staff serving 10-year prison terms on absurd charges/convictions
    Putin’s Foreign Minister, a government whose shadowy affiliated gangs have murdered dozens of journalists in the past decade and a half
    The Foreign Minister of Bahrain (’nuff said).
    The Prime Minister of Poland, whose government raided the Polish Charlie Hebdo equivalent when it “embarrassed” the government
    The Prime Minister of Ireland, where blasphemy remains an enforced criminal offence
    A sheikh from Qatar, where people are serving 15-year terms for “blasphemous” poetry
    Leaders of Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian territories, who all jailed journos
    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Israel Defence Force lethally targeted journos during the Gaza invasion
    UK Prime Minister David Cameron, where Defence Advisory Notices and super-injunctions keep a host of live information from the public
    The Saudi ambassador to France, whose country has handed out a thousand lashes to a man convicted of blasphemy
    The Secretary-General of NATO, which deliberately bombed the Belgrade station of Yugoslav public TV during the Kosovo operation, killing 16 journalists
    The US Attorney-General, who works for a government which has cracked down harder on whistleblowers than any other.

    Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden deserve similar support for exposing the extent and incompetence of government surveillance, not just sending up essentially smaller players. Where is the media outrage over the Boko Haram slaughter of 2,000 Nigerians? HItler did not dare destroy the city of Paris but he did undermine the integrity of many Parisians. Sadly I see a parallel with the inclusion of so many dodgy world leaders.

    1. I understand your point Christina. Yet for me, the presence of the leaders you list is nonetheless a step in the right direction, as they will now inevitably somewhat feel a pressure to act in coherence with their presence at the freedom rally (all humans have a fundamental psychological need for coherence). What a shame it would be to scorn and discourage people one day acting well on the sole basis that in the past they have acted poorly. All journeys of progress must start with a single first step.

      1. Anonymous says:

        well said, and even so ‘all journeys of progress start with a single step’

      2. Deborah says:

        A beautifully put response , Alex

      3. GG says:

        Totally agree with you Alex Wagner.

      4. Marti says:

        So true Alex, humans have a great capacity for change.

      5. Susan Fulford says:

        I totally agree with Alex. This was a day to stand united and not condemn past actions but to move forward with understanding and hopefully some forgiveness.

      6. Nancy says:

        I so agree with you Alex. While visiting France after 9/11, strangers would come up to us with their condolences. And, of course, they speak English! Imagine if French TV interviewed Americans in Time Square? How many would speak French? We can listen to articulate Parisiens express their unity. Je suis Charlie!!

      7. Floyd says:

        Your response to Christina was well put, and you recognize that she does make a valid point. As an American, I was disappointed that our “leadership” made no attempt to make an effort to participate in the demonstration. However, what bothers me is that there are several areas in which immigrants have settled in and that French authority will not ensure adherence to French law. I believe that this is a serious mistake—one comes to live in a new country they must abide by the laws of that country. I don’t mean that they should not practice their customs or religion, but they can not violate their host country’s rules in the name of that religion . Imagine if these areas continue to grow, visitors to Paris and France will have to learn to avoid certain neighborhoods out of fear. I’m not so sure that this problem is unique only to France. What can be done now? Is the problem so large now that nothing can be done? Did French leadership turn a blind eye to this for the last few years until the problem can’t be addressed?

      8. Sheri says:

        Well said Alex, To stop terrorism requires setting aside past wrongs and all countries working to share knowledge in an all out effort to stop the “cancer” that has invaded the free world. Like it says in the movie “Sabrina” Paris is always a good idea! Your country, the people and culture are all in our hearts and prayers. May this terrible tragedy create a united front to stop terrorism at the source.

    2. Dave A. says:

      I am with you Christine. This big flag waving event looks good on the surface, but there is deep politics underneath all of this. The conservativesI love all of this, because they can now justify their desire for more control. Now the French can have their version of our patriot act

      1. anna says:

        Ditto for christine. But does no one ask “cui bono”? certainly not the Muslims anywhere. Nor the French people either. Who cries for free speech when it is so insulting and is such bad manners?

    3. Ellen A. says:

      I agree with Alex, Christina. What we have to hope is that there will be a change in attitude and a change in heart so that those who are hypocritical in this will be compelled to alter their actions. And as you are a stickler for the facts, you should note that Hitler did want Paris destroyed. It was not, because General Von Choltitz had a change of heart and did not follow that madman’s orders. Von Choltitz is no hero in my eyes because he earlier killed many Jews on Hitler’s orders – but he did change.

    4. Pam says:

      Jesus would have welcomed all with open arms.

      1. rob says:

        Religious zealotry is the problem here! You are just fanning the flames by rooting for your team. Lining up dead prophets against each other – that is either incredibly stupid or incredibly inflammatory.

  11. Anne says:

    We support your sentiments Alex and are with you in spirit. ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ – Edmund Burke

  12. Trace says:

    Hi Alex…the actions of a few will not impact on our desire to travel. We hope to be in a Paris again in July this year. We have been saddened by the cruelty humans show to each other, but hope kindness & empathy will win out in the end.

  13. Robert van de Groenekan says:

    Robbie says: have to agree with Christina2211. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of righteousness, but there are so many hypocrites using it for their own perverse purpose.
    Go and read the following article, which gives food for thought: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/09/pers-j09.html.

    1. Mavis Urwin says:

      Robert – thank you for that link. It did shed a whole different light on this whole complicated situation . Thanks again, so very interesting to read other comments, well researched and well written

      1. anna says:

        Yes, if your are a Marxist.

    2. Richard Ure says:

      A valuable contribution to the debate. It is to be hoped that after all the back slapping and self congratulation about unity abates, some effort is made to reduce the problem of youth disaffection rather than dream up more ways of detaining people in case they might have evil intent.

      A columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald has drawn attention to the fact those of Muslims declaring their faith are under represented in the Australian Defence Force. But don’t they train folk to use weapons in such organisations, the very thing we fear they might learn if they go take up arms in Syria?

  14. Mavis Urwin says:

    Dear Alex. Thank you for your blog. It is certainly good to hear the comments of a Parisian about the despicable events of Jan 11. I was horrified to hear of it but heartened to see the response from the rest of the world. I was overcome with emotion to see the French people come out in their thousands to show their solidarity against the barbarous acts of the terrorists. To see the leaders of the world linked together and I hope deciding to fight a common foe was indeed heart warming.

    Je suis Charlie! Vive la belle France.

    Best wishes

    Mavis Urwin

  15. I never thought such a beautiful country like Australia would be targeted – I can’t understand our political leaders here, pussy-footing around and not refusing entry to those so called Aussies who go and fight for ISIS and then want to come back here – they should have their passports taken away. Today, there was another ‘hate preacher’ Ismail Alwahwah , who is thew Sydney based leader of a radical Islamic group, who says,”Paris slayings are a ‘cure” .. I don’t understand why he is not booted out of Australia. But,good always prevails out of evil, so it was heartening to see so many people gathered in Paris, as there were to see the thousands of flowers in Sydney’s Martin Place near the sight of the Lindt Siege.

    1. Richard Ure says:

      Margaret, He could go outside Australia and say the same thing. Keeping him or his followers inside the tent is more useful…but that doesn’t appeal to the shock jocks and Rupert Murdoch who sells more papers scaring people.

  16. Graeme Henderson says:

    Graeme Henderson & Janie Gilbert state:

    “Je suis Charlie” We feel deeply about your City and what occurred. We had our own situation recently here in Sydney with a similar outpouring of grief and subsequent togetherness. We cannot wait to meet with you on 2 June 2015 when we arrive in Paris. .

  17. LouLou says:

    Hi Alex
    My heart broke for Paris as I watched the dreadful events unfold. As a frequent return visitor, student of French and a complete francophile, I felt so saddened by the events, their repercussions and implications for the future. However, how wonderful to see so many united, brave Parisians standing together in solidarity on Sunday. Courage, Paris! Je t’aime.

  18. Sheila Forsythe says:

    Hi Alex, I am sure you can imagine my fear and distress at what happened in Paris, I have 2 grand-daughters living in Paris, one is 18 years old the other 21 years. Both of our girls attended the March with the same passion & comarade as the French people. I am so proud of my girls and the french people. Nothing will stop me from visiting Paris in March to see my grand-daughters and to praise the people of a beautiful place called “Paris”.
    Sheila Forsythe – Australia

  19. joarty1 says:

    It is a sad state of affairs that these so-called radical groups can freely murder people who simply satirise tall poppies of EVERY persuasion. I don’t see the political leaders, or other religious groups, in France suggesting murder is an option when the free press pokes a little harmless fun at them.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Harmless? Fun? SERIOUSLY?? Look for a moment at the horrific and barbaric consequences of “a little harmless fun.” Of course we all like to smirk and giggle at someone else’s expense, and smirking and giggling at cartoons are harmless and fun consequences. But when you publicly ridicule the religion of people whose beliefs are a sacred part of their identity and for whom religion is reality, that is sacrilege. And, like it or not, there WILL be consequences.
      That does not in any way justify or mitigate slaughtering innocent people. Nor is that a reflection of my sympathies or emotions. (If you look at the Crusades and the Reformation and all of Europe’s religious wars, countless people have been killed in the name of religion and in insanely barbaric ways.) Like it or not, that is reality.
      Personally, I love France and I think of Paris as the pinnacle of civilization. It is a city of unspeakable beauty in every way. I understand the pain, and I admire the unity. Je suis Francais !!
      But at the same time, there is a huge and fundamental difference between freedom of speech and freedom of sacrilege. And the reality is that the blasphemy of ANY religion is not “a little harmless fun.” As always, there will be tragic consequences.

      1. anna says:

        People were being murdered, kidnapped, and robbed before the Crusades: that’s why they were called. But otherwise, I agree with the above writer.

      2. Sonja says:

        Au contraire! There is no objective difference between freedom of speech and sacrilege. That’s the whole point.
        While I may find what you say sacrilegious against my beliefs or sensibilities, that in no way negates your right to express your own opinion.
        Such is life in a free society.
        In a free society, I may disagree with you, but I must respect and defend your right to speak your opinion… else my right to speak be likewise silenced.
        Freedom of thought is something we have fought over ages to achieve. We will not give it up because you don’t like the thoughts of some in our free society. We are all equally free to express our opinions, to speak our minds.
        If your sensibilities are so enraged by this fundamental freedom, the freedom of speech and thought, why are you living in a society that manifests such freedom?
        You want to inflict “consequences” on those who hold opinions different from you? I dare you to put on a uniform, stand up for your belief, own it, for all to see. I dare you to be proud of your belief. Don’t you dare hide and skulk within our free society while plotting to ambush and kill innocent, unarmed civilians and then claim it’s God’s will. Such acts of terrorism are pure evil. Those “tragic consequences” you allude to are purely the work of the devil and shameful.
        Je pense, donc je suis Charlie!

  20. Rae-Ireland says:

    As an American, I feel so much sorrow for the losses Paris and France lost during this terrorist attack. Also, as an American, I am so ashamed of my government’s lack of recognition and participation for your solidarity march. I wish the world could know that for most of Americans, our government does not represent us or our ideals.

    1. Two Bees says:

      My husband and I are also Americans and express the same sentiments as you, Rae-Ireland. We love Paris and having left your beautiful city this past Wednesday, about the same time as the attack at Charlie Hebdo was taking place, we felt such a strong connection to what was happening and followed it as closely as we could back here at home. We have been glued to the coverage, both on-line and TV, and express our sorrow for the pain these extremists have caused around the world. We can only hope this is a wake-up call for our leaders to stand up and take action. We too love Paris and we too will be back!

    2. RilesPa says:

      Thank you Rae-Ireland ! Add me to the list of millions of Americans that are ashamed of our Leaders absense at this important moment in history.

      1. Lynelle says:

        Add me to the list also! Nothing will stop me from returning to Paris – it is my second home.

    3. pat says:

      I so agree with Rae, we are sad for Paris. I had just spent a month in your beautiful city, feeling that Paris belongs to the world. Along with my sadness comes another sadness that our president was not there. I agree that most Americans were shocked by this, and we would have liked to have been represented. we send our love to Paris.

      1. Pam says:

        While I am disappointed at the stand (or lack thereof) that our White House has taken the day the world leaders stood in the streets against terrorism. I believe it is more important for us as individuals to say to the citizens of France that we support them. I got to visit the beautiful city of Paris and loved it and the people from the first day.
        Very easy. send a post card with a simple message. You don’t even have to go out and buy a post card; index cards or card stock cut to size will work. (Standard size for a post card: 3 ½ – 4 ¼ high X 5 – 6 inches long) make a couple and share with a friend. It is not about the message, it is about numbers. Looks like the postage is about $1.50. Here is an address:
        City Hall
        Place de l’Hôtel de ville,
        75004 Paris, France

        Message: Je Suis Charlie
        This American stands with France
        (or message of your choice)

      2. Linda says:

        I am an American, but in my heart and soul I am French, I love Paris and all of the wonderful people that I have had the pleasure to meet there. My heart broke when the news of the shootings were shown on TV, and very upset that my President was not present for the march. If possible I would have been there myself. they will not stop me from coming back to my heart – Paris.

  21. Geoff Duncan says:

    Hi from Melbourne Alex, I won’t restate what so many others have already said. Suffice to say, it is sobering to see so many people stand up and reject all of the negative connotations uttered by the radical few. Paris does not deserve the treatment meted out by these murderers of innocent people. They will not deter our desire to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of the most wonderful city in the world. We WILL be back!
    Geoff

  22. Marie says:

    Hello from Australia. Horrified by some peoples lack off humanity and decency in any terrorist attack, they can use all the excuses in the world for their murderous acts, in the end thats all they are. Murderers. You cannot insult any God you believe in to justify your actions. My heart goes out to all who suffered in Paris and Sydney. What sort off world are we leaving our children. My hope is that all the world leaders do not go home and do nothing. If Israel and Palestine leaders can stand side by side in the march, and hostilities do not cease in Gazza then how can we believe their sincerity. I do believe humanity and tolerance begins in the home, no matter what religion, nationality or background. My parents where in German war camps but I was not brought up to hate Germans.

  23. PlainSense says:

    I agree that rallying a lot of people who normally disagree is very positive. But Europeans need to go beyond resisting one form of intolerance and be tolerant. Like ending the so called “Human Rights” commissions that persecute people who disagree with the prophet, or who disagree with sodomy, or who disagree with the destruction of one’s culture. Stop forcing those who want to home school their children to seek asylum in American. Stop prosecuting those like Le Pen for simply discussing the negative aspects of uncontrolled immigration. Depriving people of their livelihood for disagreeing with you is tyranny just as much as shooting them. “Political Correctness” in the west is just as evil as political correctness in the middle east. It is hypocritical for those non-Muslims in Europe to demand their own form of “submission”.
    More important than solidarity over our right to spout off is learning how to love one another. And we need to teach others how to love one another, rather than to demand “submission”. Only love will stop the violence, whether it be vicious words, or abuse, or bullets.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Alex – Thank you for your thoughts. Please know our hearts have been in Paris throughout this entire sequence of events. We are so very proud of the massive march on Sunday. Paris is a treasure to us all.

    Kitty

  25. Wendi says:

    My heart felt heavy when this happened to my favourite city but I have never witnessed such strength from this city and its people,you have all taken a stand and I don’t think any other city would have had the guts to do that,Paris has sent a very strong message that cannot be ignored
    “je suis Charlie” this has made me more determined to come back to Paris and of course stay in your beautiful little apartment on rue malar

    My heart is with Paris xxx

  26. Anonymous says:

    I was terribly saddened when I heard the news about this terror attack. How can such a horrible thing happen to such a lovely city and its people. And worse yet an attack on freedom of speech. I hope that the unity shown in the Jan 11 March results in action to stop such violence. My heart goes out to the people of Paris. May this attack be the only one it must experience.

  27. Kandy Crowe says:

    Many of us in the U.S. cried for the murdered in Paris and for their families and friends. But it was so good to see Paris and France as a whole stand up and shout back at those who would try to censor the freedom of speech there. I don’t know why my country didn’t send a ranking representative to the rally, but I know it has to do with security. Still, someone should have been there. VP Joe Biden would have been my choice. I heard on the news that President Obama met with your President Hollande shortly after the attacks. Still, we should have sent someone. We loved Paris and the rest of France we saw in 2 weeks a couple of years ago, and before the bones get any older, I swear we will be back to explore, admire, and love France even more. Kandy in Florida

  28. To quote Hemingway, again, Paris truly is “a moveable feast”; what a beautiful symbol of solidarity this march was!

  29. TonyUSA says:

    France is more than a country. It is an idea, a mental impression, a philosophy, a state of mind, an attitude…all at once. No one can ever change that. It’s indelible. And although Paris is the focal point, it is not its heart. That’s because France has many hearts, all beating as one, all nourishing the country with its precious lifeblood from Marsaille to Mount St. Michael and from Calais to Colmar. I am an American who learned in history class of the French heroes who fought for our independence. Generations later, American soldiers gave their lives to liberate France from Nazi oppression. We have a history that binds us together. We grieve today for your loss as you did for us on 9/11. You are in our thoughts and prayers. We know you are a strong people and we know you will emerge from this sorrow stronger than ever.

    1. Pam says:

      Wonderful!

    2. Sandy says:

      Thank you, TonyUSA. I wanted to say something heartfelt about my favorite city in the world, but I would never be able to top what you have written so beautifully. I am an American but my heart will always be in Paris. I am so proud of their courage!

  30. emac75 says:

    We in Boston understand the horror of a home-grown terrorist attack. We will return to Paris as we will return to the Marathon and to New York City. If we allow fear to rule our lives then the quality of that life is greatly diminished. “Je suis Charlie”

  31. Susan says:

    Any time when people of different nationalities come together, is a good thing! It gives my heart hope that there is a chance something good will come out. The only thing that makes me sad is the fact my own country wasn’t there to be apart of such a strong stand against terrorist. I’ve read the comments from others and feel the same way, that wrong has been done by every country represented, but can’t we just go from this point and think a strong message is being made! WE Will Stand Together against the terrorist! Hopeful in Oklahoma

  32. Kitty says:

    Dear Alex,
    Thank you for your positive message of hope after the recent terrorists attacks in Paris. I feel very sad for Paris – a city I love very much and which I’d like to re-visit again and again. I hope that Paris will remain the beautiful place it is and will not change for the worse.

    As you indicated, “All journeys of progress must start with a single first step”. The question now is what subsequent steps will be taken by world leaders to avoid future terrorist attacks in Paris, and in other parts of the world?

    The French director Luc Besson’s letter to young French Muslims points to some issues in French society which need addressing. Will there be a united political and community will to act on these issues? See website link.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/13/luc-besson-writes-open-letter-to-young-muslims-after-charlie-hebdo-killings

  33. Susan Manber says:

    Thank you for this insiders perspective. We here in America join on solidarity with you and are delighted to share in this show of unity. All around the world, je suis Charlie

  34. Hi Alex, thank you for the opportunity to share my feelings from Australia with you. First and foremost I have spent some wonderful times in France and have such a love for the country and it’s people. What can I say about the last week that hasn’t been said?
    Nothing I’m afraid but to reiterate just what we feel in my home to yours. I love your country so much, every little village that I have been fortunate enough to visit as well as your city so beautiful that words can’t express what I feel for Paris or her people.

    We here in Oz had our own tragedy as you would well know just before Christmas in Sydney. It rocked our country to the core. We have led a fairly innocent and untouched life before then and our country grieved for our hostages and our fallen ones.

    At present I am in a small country seaside town about 4 hours from my hometown of Melbourne with my husband and son for our post Christmas holidays and have been watching what has been happening in France so very closely on our television and internet here. I have shed so many tears and feel so much more than I can possibly say for the country I hold so dear in my heart. Once you have been there you must return and we have only a few months ago…. Paris, then Collioure, Marseilles,,beautiful Corsica and then back to another arrondissement in Paris.
    In Corsica we met such a wonderful family that managed the divine property we stayed at and we talked about our fears (well before this in September) for our countries and they felt so strongly that Australia was the great haven on earth where nothing bad would happen both for our distance and government and they were fearful for their country. As we know too well things have changed here in Oz and it felt like our innocence has been broken.
    People will disagree with me and my views I’m sure but I guess we have been so fortunate here that maybe I have been naive.

    Bless all whose lives have been so tragically taken in your country and their families and loved ones left to grieve. We here grieve for you all too but like Alex has said we feel such a sense of pride and love for how your country has rallied and shown the world just why France is so very special just as our community did in Sydney and Australia in general on a smaller scale but nevertheless a heartfelt one as well.
    We stayed with you 4 years ago Paris a la carte in Monceau and will not hesitate to come back when time (my son in his first year if senior school) and funds allow! This time around we stayed in Rue Des Francs Bourgeois which as you would all know better than anyone is so close to Rue de Rosier.
    My heart breaks for the Jewish community and their fears for their loved ones after this tragedy.
    Please forgive me for all the mistakes that I have made in this comment that I so needed to make. It’s very late at night here and saw the email come through just as I was going to bed but wanted to share our heartfelt thoughts for this country that I have loved years ago the first time I set foot on that soil. Bless you all and courage to you in the days ahead and from our family to yours we are immensely proud of you all.

    Je suis Charlie.
    Much love and admiration.

  35. Deborah says:

    As an American,I want to say how embarrassed I was to see the rally in Paris without our own president in attendance. I love Paris and visit every other year. The Parisians are always kind and helpful which makes me love the city even more. Je suis Charlie…..

  36. Darrell says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful essay. The terrorism only increases our desire to return to Paris as soon as possible.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Why is there little to nothing said about those who lost their lives in a kosher deli ? Are they not as important as cartoonists who insult a religion in the name of Freedom of Speech?

    1. Anonymous says:

      My thoughts exactly. The Jewish community in France, particularly in Paris, is being targeted by followers of a certain form of Islam. Many Jews have left France because of this threat. Until the leaders of the Western world are willing to name the problem it will continue to grow unabated. Do we repeat history, but with an enemy by a different name? Je suis Juif.

  38. Jo Ann Alexander says:

    I, also as an American, am so totally with France on this. I’m embarrassed that our government leaders did not choose to attend. Paris and its people have been nothing short of wonderful to me in more than a dozen visits to this great city. It is heartwarming to see the citizens unite in love and peace for all and to stand up for human rights and values. Je suis Charlie with tears in my eyes.

  39. Jeanette Juarez says:

    Well done, Parisiens, french or not! Thank you, Alex, for sharing this with all of us. I wish I could have been there to raise my hand in support as je suis Charlie aussi!

  40. Judith says:

    I am proud to claim Paris as my “second home” – the place i return to as often as I can. And I am so very proud of Parisians and all French people for taking an enormous step and staring down fear and terrorism. As an American and a New Yorker, I took part in our own demonstration on January 11. Nous sommes Charlie!

  41. Susan Falleur says:

    Our hearts go out to you, we are all Charlie.
    Vive la France!

  42. Marge Marino says:

    As an American francophile, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathies to Paris and to all humanity believing in freedom of expression. This reminds me of the world’s outpouring for us at 9/11. We are one world. There is a huge difference in tolerating others’ points of view and cramming it down their throats with threats of death. Tis isn’t the Middle Ages with updated war technology. Battle of Tours all over again? France won that one, and will prevail.

  43. Sue Shull says:

    Thank you for your message. Words cannot express how horrible this
    situation was. I know the citizens of Paris and France will overcome.

  44. Patricia Horvath says:

    Listening to Manuel Valls addressing the National Assembly – Outstanding Speech!
    God Bless the French people. Prayers and thoughts are yours forever.

  45. GG says:

    Thank you for sharing an insider’s view for us outside of Paris.
    I am here in St. Louis, MO where we just experienced all the rioting with the Michael Brown case and it is refreshing to see people come together in peace for peace.
    No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, and if these leaders take this joint cue and walk together towards a better unity of nations; then maybe there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon!

  46. Gail Boulay, Ste - Adele, Quebec says:

    Dear Alex, My husband and I were staying in one of your apartments the week of the terrorist attacks. Had we not been taking the plane home to Canada on Jan. 11, we would have been marching too. I agree it was indeed heartwarming and hopeful to see that millions of people in Paris, all over France, and the world, came out to march for democracy and freedom of speech, and to denounce terrorism, violence and hate.

    However , in my opinion we need more than a monumental march to solve the problems of the world.

    Fifty years ago when I first visited France, there were visibly large numbers of people from North Africa living in France, doing menial jobs. They seemed to be a class apart. Today, how much has changed? Their children, born in France, and well educated, have a much higher rate of unemployment than young people of French extraction with similar qualifications. If the French government accepts people of Muslim religion as immigrants, the society as a whole must accept and respect them as equal citizens.

    On a wider scale, western business interests push governments to interfere in the middle east. Why are we surprised by the growth of hate and terrorism against the west?

    I hope this week of terror has been a wakeup call which will lead to fundamental change in the attitudes of individuals, and the politics of nations so that we may live in a world of peace.

    1. Kitty says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. The march was a hopeful move and highly commended. But of course much more need to be done if the world wants to stop young Muslims embrace radical/extremist forms of Islam which advocate acts of terrorism.

      I don’t see many comments which ask why Islamic terrorist activities come into existence and are growing Western democracies. If you don’t deal with the root causes then you will not make them go away.

  47. Marcia says:

    Writing from northern Michigan, where so many people stand in solidarity and peace with the people of Paris and the world in regards to artistic freedom, and in opposition to those religious fanatics who think murder is a justified response to their disdain of it.

  48. G says:

    I too agree with Rae-Ireland. Many of us Americans are ashamed that the US did not join the unity march on Sunday. I lived in Paris for 3 amazing years. I will be always in love with Paris & all it represents.
    I look forward to my next visit & booking with you soon!

  49. Shigeru Iwamoto says:

    Hello Alex,
    The reaction of the whole of France to the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo show the deep commitment of all citizens to independence and freedom above all. That is what makes France unique among the countries in this world. My deep respect and love to all. Je suis Charlie and I will always love Paris. Vive la France!

  50. Bonnie says:

    Alex, I feel so many things as I watch the events unfold – horror at the events, hope at the response. When I read the comments of people who rebuke Charlie Hebdo I realize that they know not what they say. I offer this article for a real understanding of the mission of Charlie Hebdo:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/11/1357057/-The-Charlie-Hebdo-cartoons-no-one-is-showing-you?detail=email#

    Courage!

  51. Anna says:

    Thank you Alex for your heartfelt message. I agree with your response to Christine. We have plans to visit Paris in April for the first time and will not be deterred. Je suis Charlie!

  52. Robert Hillman says:

    While we deplore the acton of terrorists and support freedom of expression, we should also be greatly concerned about the rising tide of anti-semitism in France and western Europe. “Je suis Charlie” is not enough. We need a slogan dedicating ourselves to the eradication of religious and racial bigotry , but more importantly we need people of good will to stand up.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Je suis Charlie, we are all Charlie, where ever we live, in the United States, in Canada, in Japan, in Indonesia, or elsewhere.

  54. Karen Alkofer says:

    Merci, Alex, for sharing your thoughts of hope that have sprung from hate. For me, Paris will always be a beacon of enlightenment. I look forward to being in your beautiful city soon. Une grande biz, mon cher ami!

  55. J says:

    The US has been criticized for keeping too low a profile in this matter (perhaps a first). Personally our grief and our outrage is deeply felt. However it is important that we do not make this about us as our situation – virtual isolation – and perspective is different. So brave citoyens of France and Europe and anywhere that people are threatened by unreasoning terror, please know you have our thoughts, best wishes and deepest respect and affection through these difficult events.

  56. Andrea Hopkins says:

    Feel such sorrow for the people of Paris experiencing these horrifying events. But their brave response and resolve NOT to be terrorized is inspiring the World (and me)!! We have to be in solidarity with the people of France, as they were with us on 9/11. I am ashamed that President Obama was not there marching with the other heads of state. We are indeed All Charlie–the US is preparing for the worst as no doubt there will be events here, but these things are difficult to prepare for so we all must be strong–everywhere in the World–and determined that THIS will not be the way the World goes.

  57. Chantal says:

    Thank you so much for your message…Paris is not alone…as we are all one against ignorance…we all stand with you….Je suis Charlie!

  58. Katherine Peterson says:

    I am an American and we have had our own terrorist experiences so am deeply in sympathy with what your countrymen and women are going through. I followed the news on bated breath. We stayed in Paris for two weeks a year ago and fell in love with the city and people. As for my thoughts, I know that you can’t let three men with assault rifles change your lives too much. They are dead now, thankfully. You do know now that one must be alert to your surroundings wherever you are. Live each day and enjoy life and love.

    Thank you Alex for your perspectives.

  59. Pam says:

    My heart goes out to the people of Paris, France and all of the other countries where these terrorists and extremists are committing horrific acts in the name of religion. I am so thankful and impressed by those who are standing up for freedom! I have visited Paris at least six times and would live there if I could – such a beautiful city – and I will return as soon as I can!

  60. Jim says:

    Vive la France! Am deeply in agreement with you and wish I could have walked in the streets with all those for peace. My two-week trip to France last year (including Paris for 5 days) has not been diminished one bit by the sad news of recent days. I look forward to returning to the land of my
    Norman ancestors and sharing the streets with those who love freedom and have open minds to the principles of free speech.

  61. Anonymous says:

    I watched the coverage of the Charlie Hebdo and supermarket attacks with shock and great sorrow. I have visited France and Paris many times and have had wonderful experiences. The Jan 11 March demonstrate that the French traditions of free speech and thought will not be silenced by these horrific attacks. As an American I am outraged that we did not send our Vice President or President to attend and be assured this does not represent the concern of most American citizens. My husband and I already have plans to spend a month in France with a week in Paris this summer and these terrible incidents will not deter us. We are all Charlie.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Well said, and it is a missed opportunity that should not be forgotten that the US was absent while the rest of the world gave a shining example of love for tolerance, freedom and mutual respect. For all the talk of our president he showed lack of leadership and foresight by being absent.
      I am appalled that he got such a pass by the media. Had it been almost anyone else they would be talking about it for a month. Instead they already move on… Sad.

  62. Debbie from Oklahoma says:

    I was so very impressed with all the people who showed up to support freedom (including) heads of state of over 40-countries! I am also so very very disappointed by my country leaders – for not being there! Such a bad decision and certainly DOES NOT REFLECT the feelings of the American people. Please know that Americans DO SUPPORT PARIS AND FRANCE AND FREEDOM!
    I’m just terribly sorry that our leaders were not there to walk arm-in-arm with you. I would have.
    Debbie – Oklahoma

  63. Lisa says:

    Alex. Thank you for your amazing and heartfelt words. Paris is a magical place, a place where every sense is heightened by all the beauty – the lights, architecture, food, shopping, culture, and the French people. It is fitting that Parisians have responded to terrorism with such grace and beauty. Bravo!! My family and I can’t wait to return Paris!! We will be in touch Alex!! MANY THANKS!

  64. Anonymous says:

    It was a truly amazing ”come together” by everyone and showed the world their true colors . For an American , I am sorry to say it showed not ours as a group , but certainly our President’s who should be ashamed of himself . Or just missing a “screw”. In either case I do applaud all who came.
    Peace,
    Nina
    Hollywood ,California

  65. Toni says:

    So sad to see terrorism ….murder …in Paris and France this past week . I love Paris .As a New Yorker ,9/11 did not keep me from enjoying and visitng my city nor will 1/11 keep me from visitng Paris in the future..The people of France handled their loss with strength , reason and compassion. I believe we will win over evil.

  66. Susan in Md. says:

    Alex, so well said. I hope this is the wake up call to come together to defeat these criminal murderers before they kill us. I am sorry President Obama chose not to come. He does not reflect the thoughts of the American people who are with you iin this. Paris is still my favorite city to which I hope to return!God Bless France and God Bless America and it’s allies

  67. Anonymous says:

    Would be nice to see Jews helping to provide security for Mosques and Muslims helping to provide security for synagogues.

  68. Caryl says:

    Alex, thank for supplying this forum for comments and discussion. I had a brother-in-law die on 9/11. He was a victim on the plane that flew into the Pentagon. Three weeks later I stepped on a plane with trepidation, but silently repeating the words to myself, “I will not allow terrorists to win.” Shortly, thereafter, I found myself in France where the gracious French people expressed sympathy to me as an American at every turn. So now, I send my condolences to all the French people, the Australians, and all those suffering at the hands of terrorists. American citizens stand with our friends. I salute all those who courageously marched in solidarity for the freedoms we enjoy. I love France and return as often as possible. Je suis Charlie!

    1. Caryl I am so sorry for your loss. 9/11 will never be forgotten by my country Australia or anywhere in countries that care about free speech and freedom to be who we are.
      The outpouring of emotion on this page for a country that clearly means so much to many of us shows the solidarity that we all feel for your beautiful country and others beyond where acts of terrorism take place.
      The terrorists will never win, these events in Paris, U.S and in my own country only strengthen us more to stand up for our freedom to go about our lives and our own beliefs.
      Nous sommes Charlie.

    2. I’m very sorry for your loss Caryl, and applaud your courage and values. Thank you for your comment.

  69. Anonymous says:

    100% disagree with killing those that you find frustration with 100% agree with solidarity for our western thoughts and ideals ( even with the imperfections of democracy) 100% agreement with freedom to speak our minds. I also believe that with this right comes a responsibility. Westerners are ok with ridicule of religion, state,and personal attack but it seems to me that the terrorist attacks whilst being at the extreme end of the scale is their way of saying this is not ok with them.
    Many years ago I spent the evening in the bar that was bombed in Bali. It was a bar that foreigners could enter freely whilst the locals were charged an entry fee that was very high. Whilst I appreciated not being hassled by the locals and didn’t think too much about it at the time I did recall the incident and wondered if that had been one of the reasons for the bombing.
    The western world once settled their differences with swift violence now we take years in the courts to obtain justice, maybe it was a last straw, a last stand.
    I may be incorrect but my media understanding was that media has been asked, warned, to not ridicule and offend these particular groups. Yet with their freedom of speech ticket they continue to do so. Sticks and stones can break your bones but many words can hurt you.
    Do we really need to exercise our freedom of speech to such an extent that no consideration is given to those that may be hurt in that process. This is not about being Politically Correct but old fashioned consideration of another persons feelings. Evolution involves empathy and understanding and until we are all prepared to do that there will always be conflict and prices to pay.
    Your country is unique, is strong and passionate and long may that last.
    From Down Under Our thoughts and best wishes are with you at this difficult time

  70. Sue says:

    I was in Paris in 2013 staying near the Place de La Republique, loved this city. It was great to see the people of France standing as one against terrorism. Your courage is great to see, a pity a lot of other countries heads of state don’t have it, we might not be in this situation that we find ourselves in now. Viva la France!!

  71. Anonymous says:

    Great article Alex. Around the world evil is raising its ugly head. To respond in unity and love and not bow down to it is the only way. In Sydney you may have heard of a seige recently in the Lindt Cafe where 4 people were eventually killed. The gunman, whilst clearly a nutter, claimed Islam as the reason for his actions – it could have escalated into terrible retributions – but as an islamic girl on a train removed her head cover for fear of reprisal, another girl came over and said “put it back on, I’ll ride with you” – this was ‘twittered’ and the following hashtag received over 120,000 hits that night. From the Sydney papers:

    Siege twitter campaign sparks kind gesture
    Sydney Muslim woman Mariam Veiszadeh struggled getting out of the city during the siege in Martin Place until two strangers inspired by the social media campaign #illridewithyou restored her faith in humanity.
    In a climate of fear and uncertainty, Australians have banded together to show their support for the Muslim population.
    The #illridewithyou hashtag amassed almost 120,000 tweets on Monday evening, as Australians took a stand against anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of the Martin Place siege.

    1. Actually, that is not true – a woman in a bus at Brisbane saw a young lady passenger “fiddling” with her scarf – it wasn’t even a fully hair covered scarf, and she just assumed, without asking the passenger, that she was uncomfortable about what people may say.
      She never spoke to the passenger at all, but just wrote on a blog which escalated!’

    2. Richard Ure says:

      Good point. If this mad minority is trying to drive a wedge between us, it does not seem to be working. But we must guard against politicians using these incidents to push agendas like weakening racial vilification laws to curry favour with Rupert Murdoch.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Alex,
    I liked nearly all of the responses to your very thoughtful and lovely comments.
    However i don’t understand the front page response on the “survivors” edition of Charlie Hedbo.
    How can they possibly say “all is forgiven”:?
    Noel

    1. Richard Ure says:

      Isn’t it the Prophet saying that he forgives those who do these things in the misguided belief they are pleasing him?

  73. Kitty says:

    Dear Alex,

    Your comment below – about Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – may need rethinking!

    “It was heartening to see so many world leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, putting aside their differences and marching for the common cause of freedom of expression, fraternity, peace and tolerance.”

    There is another account of why these two leaders from the Middle East were at the march. See report below.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/paris-march-president-hollande-asked-israels-netanyahu-not-to-attend-paris-march-9971995.html

    You should – in particular – note the following:
    A day earlier he (Netanyahu) had tweeted “To all the Jews of France, Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.”

    Netanyahu is not all interested in improving relations with the Palestinians. Rather, he wants more Jews to settle in Israel and this will lead to more Palestinians being displaced. This will no doubt encourage more disenfranchised Muslims to embrace extremism and hence increase terrorist activities everywhere. Maybe the next step forward for Western leaders (after the recent march in Paris) is to put effective pressure on Israel to stop further resettlement on land occupied by Palestinians.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Well said!

      1. Kitty says:

        Glad to know you like my comment.
        Many of the comments I have read suggest the writers have not thought beyond the solidarity of the march and protection of freedom of expression. Too many of the comments from Americans put disproportionate importance on the fact that President Obama was absent from the march. The issue here goes beyond protecting freedom of expression, but how to prevent and stop the spread of Muslim radicalisation in France and elsewhere in the world. Western democracies like France have not always live up to the Enlightenment ideals and values they hold. Economic inequality is increasing. The recent work on Capitalism in the 21st century by Thomas Piketty should be compulsory reading. It is not about how to deal with terrorism but everyone should recognise that economic and social inequalities inevitably lead to nasty consequences. Beware: “The sleep of reason produces monsters.”

  74. James Thorn says:

    You have our support Alex. The will not keep us away from Paris or the rest of France.

  75. Laurie says:

    Alex, I also thank you for providing this forum for discussion and comment. Being a resident of Sydney, and working in close proximity to the recent terrorist incident I can say that all Australians are appalled and outraged at the latest terrorist violence in France. There is a very deep historical connection between France and Australia in times of adversity and our thoughts and best wishes are with you all. We look forward to seeing you again very soon.

  76. Celeste says:

    Thanks for your comments, Alex.
    I am extremely impressed by the march in Paris on Sunday.
    This is the kind of thing New York and the U.S. were dying for after 9/11.
    Instead we had a president who suggested that we might want to go shopping.
    We wanted to react powerfully and together to the vicious and violent acts of terrorism. Until the escalation of our warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, the slogan I saw most often was, “Our grief is not a call for war.” It is empowering to protest peacefully.
    Bravo to the French for standing up to this barbarism, and for defending the right of expression of even offensive journalists.

    1. Richard Ure says:

      But will it stop there? http://bit.ly/1wXC4es

  77. Solange Milan says:

    Alex, thank you for your wise and heart-moving words, & for providing this forum. I thank everyone who contributed because the open sharing of ideas–agreements & disagreements alike–are the lifeblood of Freedom.

    I am deeply ashamed of both President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden for not attending. No explanation is acceptable; it was & shall remain an insult and a deplorable absence. Please accept the apology of this American and millions more of us who admire you & would never treat the courageous French in such a way. We stand side by side with you. Nous sommes tous Charlie! Vive la belle France et Paris toujours !

    Solange Milan.

  78. Thank you, Alex, for your thoughtful and heartfelt remarks about the multiple executions that took place last week in Paris. I echo the sentiments of Floyd and so many others who posted their comments in support of the French and acknowledge the crisis that they and the rest of us in the free world are facing.

    I was embarrassed and ashamed that the United States was not represented in any way, shape, or form and I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Barack Hussein Obama who chose not to be there. He let his country, France, and the rest of the world down and there are no acceptable excuses for his lack of leadership and egregious error of judgment!

    Please know that we Americans who love La Belle France stand in solidarity with you, the French population, and all those who cherish FREEDOM. I have been visiting France for the past forty years and have every intention of continuing to do so. It’s my favorite place in the world and nothing will deter me from returning in the future!

  79. Christina Lundberg says:

    Alex,
    My heart went out to your country and the world as we saw the events of last week unfold.
    The response of the people on Sunday was a beautiful thing to witness. In all this hatred, Paris, “The City of Lights” did not let the light in its heart be extinguished. People reaching out in non-violence to defend the belief for the freedom of speech.
    Christina L

  80. Susan says:

    As an American, I fully support the French people and stand shoulder to shoulder and arm in arm with all those who believe in and are willing to fight for our freedoms. We visited Paris two years ago and loved the country and the French people. Our prayers are with the families of those who were so brutally murdered and to all who have suffered at the hands of such evil. Viva la France!

    1. Kitty says:

      Yes, we all need to protect our freedom. And of course we all love Paris and would not want the city to change for the worse. But, prayers are not enough! Have many Americans reflect on the evil done to the people of Iraq by American armies? The issue of Muslim extremism goes beyond simplistic notion of “them and us” and “the good and the evil”.

      1. Pam says:

        I can’t even fathom how you can possibly say Americans have done evil to the people of Iraq! You must be one of the extremists to believe that.

      2. Kitty says:

        Response to Comment from Pam below:
        You don’t like what I say about American invasion of Iraq and therefore you decide that must be “one of the extremists”! Seems that you must have parked you brain a while ago?

        It is well known that American forces have committed human rights abuses in Iraq and their actions are very helpful to Muslim terrorists groups in their recruitment drives. Your present President is commended for opposing the Iraq War but unfortunately too much damage has been done.

  81. It was a great demonstration of unity and freedom, a demonstration the world never saw before. I just hope such act of cruelty will never take place again to remind us how important it is to remain united and free.

    1. Pam says:

      I hope and pray for that too, Iancu, but, alas, it may be naive to believe it won’t. Sad…

      1. Kitty says:

        A demonstration is just that. Indeed, a great gesture of unity and gives all the participants a temporary dose of feel-good. If you want such act of cruelty not to be repeated, then you need to do more than ‘hope and pray’. For a start we all should take action to stop injustices – social, economic, political, etc – in Western countries and throughout the world.

      2. Anonymous says:

        I agree Kitty, but I also believe God hears our prayers.

      3. Kitty says:

        You are free to believe whatever you wish. Has God told you He hears your prayers? Maybe He hears but does nothing more. Individually and collectively we need to do more.

  82. cynthia says:

    Dear Alex:
    We the people of New York City understand attacks by terrorists. We have walked our streets when lined with military and equipment. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Parisians. Viva Libertie!
    Cynthia Gale

  83. madeleine bowen says:

    Dear Alex: Thank you so much for your message of courage; we all believe in Voltaire. I am embarrassed and mortified by the absence of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and John Kerry. They have truly let down Americans who want to send support and condolences to the people of France.
    Vive La France
    Madeleine S. Bowen, January 14, 2015

  84. Norma says:

    I applaud the unity among all ideologies but I also believe in total respect for all religions. Freedom of speach is the most important thing amongst humans but respect should go hand in hand. However, this surely does not mean retaliation towards those you consider disrespectful, that is where good judgement comes in handy and the love for life.

  85. They will never get what they want with violence. martin Lyther King should have taught them that lesson. Their violence just makes us that much stronger.

  86. ginnyhoyle says:

    I was deeply touched by the French response to this horrific incident–a response both strong and compassionate, cautious and generous. We love France and are eager to return, to make that
    our own small gesture of solidarity.

  87. Nicky says:

    Unfortunately Alex, I believe this violence will continue as long as fanatical fundamentalists believe it is “OK” to attack anybody or anything that they believe “disrespectful”. In order to curb their influence I believe it is imperative that all Imams, and other leaders of Islamists throughout the world (what does a terrorist care about Merkel or Obama) must preach loudly and consistently to their followers that this retaliatory vengeance against non-believers is not the will of Allah nor in the teachings of Mohammed, and if they do these acts they will not die as martyrs but as sinners.

  88. Alex, your words are perfectly stated. A part of my inner most being hurts so deeply due to this needless violence. The inability to tolerate the satire and humor in life leads to closed minds and ideology that cuts people off from each other. The use of humor and satire means that ideas and communication can proclaim messages that people may otherwise ignore. To use humor and or satire in communications has been a staple in all forms of society. This helps people to think and consider ideas that are important to growth as individuals and as a society. Obviously it is too late for some. Their ideas are formed and from those radical places and thoughts this violence will continue. I love Paris and the people there. My husband passed away in June 2014. We shared four beautiful trips to Paris and enjoyed our time there like no other. I am so grateful your people marched. I wanted to march with you. In my heart, I did. I missed seeing our US leaders in the march as well. I need to say I am sorry for that and
    most of all I am so very sorry for your loss……

  89. Ade says:

    In Britain, the Christian blasphemy laws have passed into history, but only in the Criminal Justice Act of 2008, so we must not pat ourselves on the back and yell Freedom. It is true to say that long before that, any case of blasphemy was sure to fail and in the last 30 years charges became so rare as to render blasphemy impotent.
    However there are always those who want to silence others who say or do provocative things, immigration as an example, was a taboo subject after the ‘rivers of blood speech. That speech was condemned as being harmful as it certainly was, but its great harm was in silencing any sane discussion on immigration to an already crowded island.
    Humans have progressed through the ages because ideas are expounded, reviewed, and shared. At one time, when most people were peasant and without knowledge of Latin, the church and nobility could use religion for subjugation of the poor. The Moslem religion has not reached that degree of sophistication and this must be a terrible lesson for its adherents. Any faith that puts itself above the freedom to comment, criticise or ridicule has to be fair game for those who do not share it. If a faith is strong enough, it will survive in its loyal members minds. There are those who object to many forms of thought and cry oppression! Whether it be men, women, gays and lesbians, black, blue or scarlet, it is all quite absurd. Many times we use different words that are only euphemisms, for example, black not negro or its derivative nigger. As Shakespeare said, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ One persons opinion of someone else should not matter. I belong to a minority which I shall not name. Sometimes talk upsets me. I get over it. The human will never act, think, live in the same way in unison. Talk spreads ideas. That is how we humans have evolved and how the West has progressed faster than some other societies.

  90. Patrice Renault says:

    The majority of US Americans were there in spirit… our under-educated president should have been there also. We are embarrassed. He just does not know better. Je suis Charlie!

  91. Maryann H says:

    It was thrilling to see the world join in support and remembrance of those lost due to these cowardly despicable actions. Let us not ever be intimidated by those who are not free thinkers and use violence against innocents. Although the absence of some leaders of the free world was noticed, it was more inspiring to see every day people take to the streets. These are the true heroes and those who will ensure we will not change how we live and travel.

  92. Would anybody be kind enough to buy and send me an English version of Charlie Hebdo? No, I have no intention of re-selling it for an exorbitant profit; I just want it as part of a time capsule for my grandchildren. Thanks/Merci

  93. Julie says:

    Thank you, Alex, for initiating this discussion between thinking people from around the globe. Here on the coast south of Sydney, Australia, we were also heartened by the mass demonstration of solidarity in Paris last weekend. I could repeat many of the comments above but just want to add my observations on events, having read many opinions pieces and letters in the press over the past week. my take on events in Paris is that the outpouring of solidarity was indeed heartening but I also question how far freedom of speech can be stretched. Does it give the press – or anyone- the right to denigrate religions and races? How must it feel to children growing up in a milieu of ridicule for the beliefs held by their families and how much do these children and young people then become alienated in what they see as their own environment? If there are avenues for a backlash we shouldn’t be surprised if some of these people choose to take it. How responsible should the press, editors be and how far should they go before they put not only themselves, but any of us, at risk of violence from disaffected youth? Somewhere along the line someone in government needs to keep their eye on prevention, a long term solution at the same time as addressing the immediate threats. Some of our journalists have referred to the arrogance of our Western society in assuming that our opinions are the correct ones. One writer recalled his own ‘undergraduate’ humour as he launched his journalistic career many years ago. He would not resort to such a level of so-called humour now. How to achieve a balance? Big problem! And on the same day that 12- 17 people lost their lives in France 2000 Nigerians died in horrific circumstances at the hands of their ‘own’ fellow citizens. I am looking forward to being in Paris, in one of your apartments at the end of March. I love Paris! I hope that it will be a safe place to be. All of us need to work at maintaining harmony between ourselves and our fellow humans. I cannot see ridicule and denigration playing any part in creating that harmony.

  94. Kitty says:

    Thank you, Julie for a well thought through contribution to the discussion. You raised an important point on the merit or otherwise of maintaining freedom of speech at any cost. If we have unlimited right to humiliate, denigrate, ridicule other people’s religions, races, etc we are risking violent reprisals. Standing firm for our rights to freedom of speech seems admirable but if we cannot deal with the potentially deadly consequences should we not reconsider this position? I visited Japan recently where social cohesion is better than in most Western countries. The Japanese people place great importance to maintaining social harmony. They may appear less assertive and may not exercise their individual rights as much as people do in the West. They generally avoid confrontation and most social exchanges are conducted with a high degree of politeness. I did not read Japanese newspaper as I do not understand the language so cannot comment if there is censorship.
    Like you and many others I love Paris and wish to revisit her again and again. However if France changes for the worse after the recent tragic set of events (e.g., turning to the extreme Far Right politically), I would avoid going there. On the whole I avoid visiting countries whose politics I disapprove and/or where safety is an issue. I will follow French political events in the coming months with interest and trepidation. I sincerely hope reason and good sense will prevail in France.

  95. Regina Gorringe says:

    My love and prayers were with France at this time, as it was only last month that Sydney – Australia had a terrorist attack and innocent people were killed. Freedom of speech is so important. This was taken away in France over 70 years ago by the Nazi’s. I shall return soon one day!!
    Viva La France!!!

  96. Edgardo Bianchi says:

    Agree with Alex. La libre circulation d’immigrants musulmans a travers l’Europe et le manque d’integration culturelle aux pays qui les ont aqeullit a multiplie le probleme. La tolerance de la France vers les no-go zones ainsi comme la Sharia law a fait que la jeunesse decouragee adopte les idees exremistes. La domination demografique (haut taux de naissance) fairat presque impossible de surmonter cette vague barbare qui promet de detruir la civilization occidentale.
    Ed. North Carolina.USA

  97. Graham Thomsson says:

    Thanks, Alex, for sharing your perspective of what happened in Paris on 11 January, 2015. I believe it was a resolving moment in World history. Such a show of unity which transcended all cultures was emotional and showed an utter defiance of tyranny, In Australia we shared a similiar tragic event which has just done so much to bind us together as an undivided nation.We, that is, my wife, Pamela, and I will have an opportunity to show our defiance when we visit Paris for a month in July/August this year.
    Please keep on sharing your emails with me. Kind regards,
    Graham Thomson
    Brisbane, Queensland , Australia.

  98. cagboulder says:

    I might have missed it amongst all the comments, but how was it perceived that a major “head of state” from the U.S. wasn’t there for the march…???

  99. Anonymous says:

    the main point here is that murder is never legal or goes without punishment. the fact that a religion is involved does not erase the fact that murders of innocents were committed. how do people feel safe if murder is to be rationalized ? how do people feel safe if the laws of their country do not
    apply ? it is inspiring to see world leaders march together. but will any concrete changes come from all that show of solidarity ? we can only hope and pray. I am including a link for your consideration.
    a religion that says democracy is wrong and must be destroyed has a frightening message for the
    free world.
    http://www.cbn.com/tv/embedplayer.aspx?bcid=1509282970001
    I have always loved Paris and returned to school in 2012. I am so saddened to see any freedoms of the marvelous Parisiens threatened in any way.
    I am also upset as are many Americans that our president did not think the rally worthy of his
    presence. It was disrespectful.
    marilyn

  100. Victoria & Andre says:

    Our hearts were with the people of Paris as they marched in solidarity for freedom and against terrorism. We love your beautiful city and hope to return for our fourth visit in the fall. Might I suggest a place where people who visit from all over the world can leave their “message of support” somehow? Our hope is that, somehow, all nations can come together to live in peace without intimidation, repression or fear.
    Andre & Victoria

  101. Sheila D. says:

    Thank you Alex for starting this conversation by sharing your perspective. I hope you will continue to give us an insiders perspective. I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Paris in 2013. I look forward to visiting again in the near future. My prayers are with you.

  102. Alex,
    As an American who has visited Paris over 20 times, I am ashamed and embarassed at my country’s response to the tragic events in Paris earlier this month. Sadly, President Obama said little and did nothing to give comfort or support to our oldest ally. The fact that Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris nearly a week after the event with James Taylor, who gave France a song, only served to further add to my embarassment. Be assured that the majority of Americans stand proudly with our French brothers and sisters at this time of peril.

  103. Mary says:

    Dear Alex, we all wept for Paris. My two daughters narrowly missed the horrific events that occurred in your city, having just returned from the Christmas holidays in your Marais Panache apartment. Even though I was thankful to have them home (as though New York is any less terror-prone), they both stated their deep regret at not still being in Paris to attend the historic rally for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Employed in publishing and law, both women relate to Gertrude Stein’s statement about Paris being one’s hometown. It certainly was on January 9th. The cowardly display of terrorism by AQAP, matched 1.3 million times over by the unity shown at the rally, has only emboldened my daughters to return to Paris sooner rather than later, to shop in Jewish establishments, and to continue their efforts here and abroad to promote free speech and a democratic society.

    1. Ellen A. says:

      Bravo!

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