GENEVA, Switzerland – Twelve people, including four French Cartoonists well-known for their political commentary, journalists and police became the target of three masked gunmen who terrorized a city and brought an entire continent to their feet.
On 7 January, in a direct affront to freedom of the press, 12 people were slaughtered in the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris. At least 11 more were injured (or as one Facebook page dedicated to the tragedy had it, 66 million more were injured).
While the manhunt ensued, thousands of people took to the streets in France to show their solidarity for victims and country.
Passions also ran strong in Geneva and other communities, with hundreds of persons rallying and speaking publicly in support of France and freedom of speech.
Swiss President, Simonetta Sommaruga, extended condolences to President Francois Hollande and said the news was “very upsetting not only for the Swiss Federal Council but for her personally.”
Swiss award-winner and Editorial Cartoonist, Patrick Chappatte, who in the past has talked about cartoons being used “as weapons” and being trapped between freedom of speech and defamation of religions, responded in ink to the tragic events:
IN MEMORY OF MY COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS FROM CHARLIE HEBDO, a cartoon for the International New York Times pic.twitter.com/2v21S7ZmGJ
— Chappatte Cartoons (@PatChappatte) January 7, 2015
The Geneva-based organization Cartoonists for Peace stated: “Caricature and freedom of speech are intolerable to fanatics.”
Within hours of the attack, hundreds of persons —including several journalists— had gathered at Uni-Mail in Geneva for a candlelight vigil.
Hundreds more gathered in Lausanne and the Swiss capital of Bern.
Satire pour les uns, ça tire pour les autres… l’humour vaincra #JeSuisCharlie
— Frédéric Glassey / F (@fredglassey) January 7, 2015
See the photos of the demonstration in Bern captured by photographer Anne Bichsel here.
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) January 7, 2015
Flags are now flying at half mast at Switzerland’s French Embassy.
Words of condolence and gestures of solidarity with France have poured from all over the world.
An estimated 1,000 Montrealers braved frigid temperatures to attend vigils in front of the French consulate in that city.
A French student at the University of Geneva currently in Montreal tweeted a photo of the gathering.
— Léo R. (@leo_orich) January 8, 2015
While thousands of cartoonists have taken to illustrating the sadness of this day, there is one that is particularly poignant.
— Magnus Shaw (@TheMagnusShaw) January 7, 2015