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Posts Tagged ‘France

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

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Three times this week, I’ve felt like I was witnessing history; events that would be remembered for many years to come. As a journalist, it’s easy to get caught up in a story and treat it just as work. This week, that was almost impossible.

The first event was obviously on Wednesday, when the news of the terrible attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s office broke. I watched at home in shock, like millions across the world, as details of the events in Paris emerged. Like so many others, I was horrified that something as simple as a cartoon could lead to fanatics taking such action.

The second was Friday. I was working with the BBC World team as two sieges, one in Paris and one just outside, took place. It was hard to believe that live feeds of parts of the city looking like a police state, shutdown for hours as authorities hunted the men and woman responsible, were real. The images of police storming a kosher supermarket and people fleeing for their lives will stay with me for a long time.

Francois, from France but living in London: "It is so comforting to feel such a solidarity from English people."

Francois, from France but living in London: “It is so comforting to feel such a solidarity from English people.”

In the face of such horrific events, it would be easy to have a grim view of the world. Luckily, there’s the third part of this story; the record-breaking unity rallies in France and support events in many other cities.

The sight of more than one million people gathered in central Paris in a show of defiance must be one of the most inspiring of recent times. To see such diverse groups; world leaders, individuals, Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of no faith all communicating broadly the same message, is an incredible show of defiance. The image of Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the same demonstration has huge symbolic power.


I spent this afternoon in Trafalgar Square in London, where several hundred people gathered to show solidarity to the Parisian demonstrators. I spoke to a number of people – French expats, Brits, Jews, Iranians – all of whom were determined to show their support for the French people as they face the aftermath of the attacks. Some spoke of fear about how safe our own city was, but all insisted we must remain defiant. Their message was clear: we won’t bow to terror.

When we look back on this week, hopefully the events of Sunday will be remembered just as much as the preceding days.


Written by Nick Eardley

January 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm