ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Marche du 11 janvier 2015 : un peuple dressé contre la haine
by Patrick Apel-Muller
Translated Sunday 18 January 2015, by
An immense wave has swept the nation, flooding the streets of Paris and hundreds of French towns and cities. The protesters came in their millions, each filled with anger, pain, but also a yearning for brotherhood, the values of the Republic, for freedom.
On a par with some of the greatest moments in their history, the French people united as one to shout “We are not afraid!” to the fanatical assassins, to proclaim their belief in the right to criticise, to self-expression and to debate. Dignity and respect for the fallen were the order of the day… everywhere except Beaucaire. 11th January will remain in the history books for this, not for the cohort of foreign leaders – some of whom are orchestrators of massacre and censorship, such as Benjamin Netanyahou, Ali Bongo, Viktor Orban or the Turkish prime minister. And yet, we must establish what to make of it all. Already, specialists in sweeping generalisations, opponents of immigration, and panic-stirrers are at work. Marine Le Pen has begun proceedings, suggesting the death penalty for the attackers. Taking advantage of the necessary security measures, senior members of the UMP political party want to bring in laws that would erode freedoms, as if fighting terrorists will bring about their greatest wish. The days to come will see humanists and republicans pitted against the crusaders of the war of civilisations. Even the use of the word war needs to be carefully thought over…
From this point forward, there are some important topics to be discussed. The Republic must be built on truths and acts, not just on the three values carved onto the pediments of town halls. France will be strong only if it puts an end to discrimination, suspicion, social exclusion, misery, and inequality. If this does not happen, France runs the risk of becoming empty words, rejected by those who swallow the frustrations, the marginalization, the suffering. Citizenship cannot be reduced to the addition of communities separated by impenetrable divides. Throughout the world, France must promote a new order that banishes the imperialist invasions which have sown the seeds of terrorism, and the cells in Iraq and Libya in particular. Freedom of expression must not remain purely rhetorical for those who discover it in the light of this massacre. We are ready to risk this newspaper’s life which, like all rebellious and independent newspapers, has had its very existence threatened. Pluralism cannot be abandoned.
Progressive thinkers have a lot of work to do to ensure this wave of popular opinion is to pay dividends. In this way, we can be reassured by the words of Pablo Neruda: “They can cut all the flowers but they can’t stop the spring.”