Sophie Clavier

2015-01-09

Striking at What it Means to be French

On Jan. 7 two gunmen slaughtered 12 people in the center of Paris. The horror would have been the same had they gunned down people at a tourist site or a supermarket, but by attacking the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, they shattered the essence of French identity. Merely hours after the attack, a scroll through Facebook yielded a sea of "Je Suis Charlie" profiles and announcements of protest rallies organized all across France. Collective national grief overwhelmed social media: We were all Charlie, and we were all wounded at our very core. To understand the depth of that reaction, one has to understand what Charlie Hebdo symbolizes.

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