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Sunday, January 11, 2015

I Am Charlie Hebdo

We just came back from the absolutely massive rally in support of Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech here in Paris.  "Hebdo" is short for hebdomodaire, that is to say, weekly, since it is a weekly newpaper.  It was named after Charlie Brown many decades ago when they used to carry that comic strip.  It's sort of an institution here, that a lot of people read, especially in high school.
The streets were completely full of people in all directions for many blocks.  The view down each of the cross streets was just as mobbed and the crowds were still pouring in.

The center of the demonstration was the Place de La Republique, with a huge statue of Liberty in the center.  Despite the huge number of people, it was very quiet at first.  Then, there rounds of clapping that spread through the crowd over and over.  They also sang the national anthem, the Marseillaise.

Besides the hundreds of signs saying "I Am Charlie", there were a lot of creative signs, many using a the cartoonist's pencil as an emblem.  See the giant pencil someone is carrying in the middle of this picture.  

One was a cartoon of Mohammed covering his eyes and crying with I Am Charlie written above his head.  Others said I Am Charlie, I Am Jewish, I Am A Cop, I Am Muslim, I Am a Free Man.  Variations on "Nous N'Ayons Pas Peur" - "We are not afraid."  One said "They wanted to silence us, but they didn't win a single minute."  

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