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Two years ago we were all Charlie Hebdo. Now our willingness to defend freedom of expression has been crushed again
by Jacob Furedi
It's been two years since the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, but it feels more like two hundred.
After two Muslim brothers stormed its offices at 10 Rue Nicolas-Appert in the centre of Paris and massacred 12 people, "Je suis Charlie" became the rallying cry of those who condemned the attack. Over the following days, 40 world leaders travelled to Paris to stand in solidarity with the French government. Across France, more than three million demonstrators took to the streets in a show of unity against those who sought to reap terror. Charlie Hebdo's following issue sold almost eight million copies.
While the brute violence of the Charlie Hebdo massacre was abhorrent in its own right, the decision of the Kouachi brothers to target a satirical magazine carried a particular disturbing message. It signalled an attack on the progressive values of freedom of expression and tolerance. In the aftermath, there was recognition that, although the magazine had dared to satirise Muhammad, freedom of speech - including its mischievous extension, the freedom to ridicule - were more important than the right not to be offended.
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