Solidarité et liberté.
These pillars of a free society were the themes at a gathering at the Alliance Française in downtown Minneapolis to honor the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Paris.
As around 70 people filed into the building Thursday, they picked up small signs that read, “Je Suis Charlie.” The phrase (“I Am Charlie”) has gone viral in support of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper attacked by gunmen who killed 12. The crowd at the Alliance, along with hundreds of gatherings around the world, observed one minute of silence at noon, as requested by French President Francois Hollande.
Christina Selander Bouzouina, executive director of the Alliance Française of Mpls./St. Paul, expressed sadness and disbelief — reactions that mirrored her feelings on Sept. 11, 2001, when she was living in Paris; “You don’t think it can happen here, or in Paris.”
Steve Sack, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at the Star Tribune, spoke at the gathering with admiration about the courage of his colleagues worldwide, and the power of cartoons. He receives — and expects — reaction to his work, but has never felt physically threatened. And though a cartoonist’s work is bound to offend or cause distress, “We shouldn’t have to weigh being killed” for publishing it, he said.
Sack had met two of the victims of Wednesday’s attack at professional gatherings in France, and he ended his remarks with a note of resolve. “Terrorists think they can intimidate the cartoonists of France. I know the French cartoonists, and if terrorists think that, they have another thing coming. Je suis Charlie.”