I started writing a tongue-in-cheek blog about New Year resolutions and then on January 7th the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris was attacked and 12 people, including a Muslim policeman trying to protect the journalists, were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists. Then there were more attacks and killings, including an assault on a Jewish kosher supermarket where 4 people were murdered.  A young Muslim employee at the shop saved several people by turning off the freezer and hiding them inside it while he got help from police.

Brighton Café Mange Tout, photo courtesy of Joyce Chester


In the days that followed people in Paris and other cities took to the streets to share their grief and their outrage. There was also the predictable hypocrisy – and cynicism – of those who sought to make political, usually racist, capital out what had happened, as well as subtle forms of almost victim-blaming.  Others have written more knowledgeably than I could about the context, for instance :

http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/olivier-tonneau/110115/charlie-hebdo-letter-my-british-friends

And of course other news has quickly taken over in the media which moves on at lightning speed.

Reading the papers after these events I read of other atrocities, among them a posting by Islamic State of a small boy shooting – forced to kill I’d say – two Russians, allegedly spying, in Syria. Meanwhile an Israeli paper digitally removed all trace of the female leaders at the Paris march. I could go on.

I want something to hold onto.  So I keep going back to that young man in the supermarket in Paris. His name is Lassana Bathily, he is 24 years old and an immigrant to France from Mali. I’d been thinking cartoonists, artists and journalists are like the cousins of us poets. In an interview with BFM TV, Lassana Bassily said “I helped Jews. We’re all brothers…It’s not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims, we’re all in the same boat.”

 

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