Secular Sunday tribute to Charlie Hebdo

jesuischarlie  toutestpardonne


Reproduced with kind permission of Secular Sunday

I once had aspirations to be a cartoonist but my rudimentary drawing skills never developed into anything marketable. Nonetheless I have always admired the art and, this week in particular, have found myself amazed at how a picture can say so much more than words. I struggle now to find the right words and wish I could draw the anger I feel. It’s still raw and painful. The values I hold dear have been attacked, a country I love has been besieged, and good people, defenders of freedom, have died pointlessly in the name of a barbaric philosophy. It hurts deeply.
I don’t know that I felt shock on reading the news alert that appeared on my phone late Wednesday morning. Gunfire at a newspaper is an unexpected event but once I read the name of the journal in question there was little doubt as to the rest of the story. And so it unfolded. Inevitably, horribly; the details full of unpleasant surprises but the broad brush strokes so easy to predict. The assailants were Islamists, “avenging” the honour of their “prophet”, heavily armed, known to police, eventually dying as they intended, in a hail of bullets. And the responses, similarly predictable. The grief and anger felt across the world, the retaliatory attacks against innocent Muslims, the rolling, breaking, crashing news, the false alarms, the victim-blaming and whataboutery, and finally the hope and catharsis of millions of people united in quiet peaceful defiance against those who would destroy us.
My partner is French and this attack has hit closer to home than any before. There has been other news this week but I’ve been unable to process it. My editorial dispassion is nowhere to be found. So this edition is not like any others I’ve produced. It is perhaps less a newsletter than my clumsy personal attempt at a tribute to the latest casualties in a war of ideas. Normal service will be resumed next week.Vive Charlie Hebdo!
Vive la liberté!
– Derek Walsh, Editor

Charlie Hebdo

For some 45 years on and off, the French magazine Charlie Hebdo (Charlie after Charles de Gaulle, Hebdo meaning weekly) has pointed its satirical pen in all directions, particularly at right-wing political parties and organised religion. Some examples:

Like all satirists, they were unpopular among those whom they lampooned, but their fearless inclusion of Islam among their targets led to two terrorist attacks, the second of which resulted in the deaths of eight employees, and four other people.

The murders provoked immediate and poignant responses by many cartoonists, some of which are reproduced below.

Ruben L. Oppenheimer:
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R. Crumb:
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David Pope:
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Lucille Clerc:
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Several more can be found here.

There has been much written about this atrocity and more will come, no doubt. But perhaps one of the most helpful is from Olivier Tonneau: On Charlie Hebdo: A letter to my British friends It provides some much-needed background information that helps those not steeped in French culture to make sense of the events. (As so often, we Irish can make use of something intended for a British audience.)

Atheist Ireland’s chairperson Michael Nugent discussed the attacks and their implications on TodayFM and on BBC Radio Ulster. and on RTÉ’s Prime Time

Our usual involuntary contributors have not been quiet on this issue:

And finally, because we can’t allow evil to triumph, because we can’t allow violence to dictate our actions, because we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged down to the lowest common denominator, because we can’t stop speaking out, because we can’t stop provoking, questioning and laughing at absurdity and because we can’t forget, we can’t ever forget that love is stronger than hate: the last word, the last picture, belongs to Charlie Hebdo, published following the terrorist attack they suffered in 2011:


  1. Avatar
    François Collin January 14, 2015

    “Charlie ” not after “Charles de Gaulle” but after “Charlie Brown” of Peanuts the great cartoon.

    • Avatar
      Derek Walsh January 15, 2015

      Hi François,

      It seems it’s a little of both. Charlie Hebdo was named after another magzine called Charlie, which in turn took it’s name from Charlie Brown. But it was also a reference to the fact that Charlie Hebdo’s predecessor Hara-Kiri Hebdo, had been banned following a joke about the death of de Gaulle.


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