Friday 20 September 2019

An astonishing image of unity at the end of a black week

David Looby
David Looby
Over 1.5 million people gathered in Paris following the Charlie Hedbo office attack.

David Looby

THE astonishing image of over 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday to protest against the murder of the staff at the Charlie Hebdo offices was a life affirming show of strength and resilience in the face of an almost incomprehensible attack on freedom.

The attack on the offices of the wilfully controversial cartoon publication had the world gripped last week and rightly so. Working for a newspaper I found the detail of the attack terrifying; especially the callous and calculated way in which the staff of Charlie Hebdo were murdered as they held an editorial meeting.

Whether you agree with the views outlined in the publication or not, the choice in a free world remains not to buy it if you won't want to.

The fact that Charlie Hebdo outraged members of the Muslim community throughout the world is not in doubt but the reaction of two disenfranchised brothers was completely and utterly unwarranted and their subsequent acts suggest they had planned the office attack as the denouement in a well rehearsed bid for martyrdom.

Although the attack was designed to strike terror into people's hearts, the effect was the opposite.

Yes, people were more security conscious and afraid as the news channels portrayed the whole episode. The 3.7m plus people who protested in France and the thousands more who protested across the globe displayed a unity seldom seen in this age of social media.

World leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms in Paris in the unprecedented march with commentators pointing out that the last time crowds of this size filled the streets of the capital was at the Liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany in 1944.

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began on Wednesday with a shooting attack on the political weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions.

The French attack happened in the same week in which thousands of innocent people were killed in Nigeria, something its President Goodluck Jonathan was loathe to mention the run up to the country's upcoming general election.

On Monday the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, in central Nigeria, accused the West of ignoring the threat of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.

Ignatius Kaigama said the world had to show more determination to halt the group's advance in Nigeria. He said the international community had to show the same spirit and resolve it had done after the attacks in France.

His warning came after 23 people were killed by three female suicide bombers, one reported to be 10 years old.

The weekend attacks come after reports that hundreds of people were killed last week during the capture by Boko Haram of the town of Baga in Borno state.

Archbishop Kaigama told the BBC's Newsday programme that the slaughter in Baga had shown that the Nigerian military was unable to tackle Boko Haram.

"It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But... we seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories... with such impunity," he said. Sadly news means more in certain parts of the world apparently.

While the glare of the media has finally begun to switch - albeit temporarily to this tragedy - RTE has been busy promoting its own show Charlie on its news, at length. In our national broadcaster's defence the show is worth looking at. The oily haired Black Prince of Irish politics makes for riveting viewing, especially Sunday night's programme.

Aidan Gillen excels in the role as the ruthless politician more interested in expensive clothes and women than the city in which he grew up. The second episode made for great viewing but after a while you started to wonder if there was some mistake such was the number of Love/Hate actors on show. On the one hand you're thinking, wow, Ireland has great actors, while on the other, you're questioning how many actors we actually have. Gillen plays the role of CJ Haughey with aplomb, from the egomaniac in the big chair to the scion of Inisvickillane island, upon which he declares to French President Francois Mitterand that he is on his 'other' island.

Following the success of Love/Hate RTE must be given credit for coming up trumps again, even if they weren't shy about trumpeting the show.

Wexford People

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