Students show support for Charlie Hebdo victims
Nous sommes Charlie
Norwich locals and students braved the rain last night to pay their respects to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
The event – organised by UEA French tutor Clementine Pellegrino – saw large numbers turn up outside the Forum.
People took turns to give their thoughts on the tragedy and held up pencils for a one minute silence.
Clementine began the evening by talking about the event and how it had personally affected her. She said: “It was at work that I first heard about the first attacks in the Charlie Hebdo.
“Instantly I felt attacked on a personal level. I felt like they had taken a part of our culture.
“I felt like the killers not only killed journalists and police officers but stole a part of France from the French people. And then I realised that it may not only be France who’d feel like this.
“Maybe the city I live in would see how dangerous for freedom those barbaric events were. So I thought I would give it a try and see how many people would feel like me in Norwich. And the response was great.”
Members of the public were also invited to speak.
Sandra Steinle, a Norwich resident who grew up in France, said: “I grew up with the cartoonist’s names, and the attack came as a complete shock. This [tribute] is a good thing.
“It’s not just about standing up for free speech, but about showing solidarity and unity.”
Marie Tuilais, a third year Language and and Communications student at UEA, said: “It’s been an emotional time, but it has brought us all together, particularly in Norwich.
“I didn’t expect such a big turnout. It’s lovely to see.”
And it wasn’t just UEA students that turned up. Norwich University of the Arts student Kirstine Thornton added: “Here is proof that unifies us. This is humanity.”
Many brought their own posters and banners, with several reading “Je suis Charlie” and “Je suis Ahmed”, supporting not only the journalists that lost their lives but the Muslim communities being targeted as a result.
The overall message of the gathering was clear: no one is immune to criticism and mockery and nothing justifies the actions of the extremists.
Norwich may be small, but its residents have certainly joined the fight.