And that this was a great target has been confirmed by the oceanic event on Sunday 1/11 along the boulevards of Paris: its extent and its transversality, the presence of dozens of heads of government (including those of a number of countries where dissident journalists are rotting in jail), has made it unique in the history of Europe, a textbook turning point. Millions of people from every social class and cultural and religious backgrounds together to say “I'm Charlie.” The hashtag #jesuisCharlie is the quintessence of the universal desire of being-there to raise ones voice and shout in unison, “I too am one of those who were killed.” A perfect slogan, which refers to collective identification with the victims of a barbaric attack, which some would now raise among the heroes of the homeland of the Pantheon in Paris. But there's something more: a reaction well beyond our standards has confirmed that, hitting that paper (before the tragedy, poorly tolerated by various French society circles), was more outrageous and unacceptable to the majority of European media than the attack on the twin towers or the destruction of sixteen Nigerian villages where two thousand people, of which we may never even know the name, were killed (the African 11 September only deserved a few lines in our mainstream media).
So maybe it's true that newspapers have become untouchable for Western society, sacred temples of civil religion, freedom of expression, the foundation of our democracies? The Kouachi brothers have really scored a masterstroke ‘on the road to God’ as required by jihadist martyrology. In December 2001, Osama Bin Laden said about the attacks on New York and Washington: “These young people have said it with facts, overshadowing any other speech made in any part of the world. Speeches understood by Arabs and non-Arabs ... They have spoken above all the media
Stay up to date: sign up for our newsletter
For insights and analysis subscribe to our biannual journal