Yesterday was a sad but also a special day for France, Paris and for us. Upon arriving in Paris last Wednesday we had no clue what happened. We were happily shopping and eating chocolate pies when we heard the terrible news about the Charlie Hebdo attack. That evening we happened to cycle past Place de la République and were surprised and happy to see so many people (10.000!) supporting Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech in general.
The following days we kept up do date and continued our city trip. And yes, we enjoyed every minute of it! Strange and contradictory days, but I’m happy we were able to enjoy Paris. During those days we received a lot of messages from people warning us about the dangers and if we could please watch out. Naive as I am, I was not worried at all. There were so many police officiers on every street corner. But I have to say my confidence faded a bit when people were taken hostage in a supermarket located on the outskirts of Paris. We were so sad to hear that several hostages didn’t survive the attack.
On our last day in Paris -yesterday- we decided to join the unity march. We wanted to pay tribute to everything that has happened, not only to the Charlie Hebdo attack but als to what has been happening these past few years. It is wrong to target one group based on their religion (in the Netherlands media and some politicians are partly to blame of the negative image of Muslims in general), and it is even more wrong that people are claiming this very same religion to be the core of their terrible actions. Both sides of the war on terrorism are in fault and we are heading down a dangerous path. Yesterday for us was all about showing that we can unite and respect each other opinions, even when they are not shared.
And it was a crazy and absurd experience! So many people! We wanted to reach Boulevard Voltaire, but weren’t able to. Le Marais was crowded and the march happened on every street in close proximity to Boulevard Voltaire. It was so special to join the walk and pay our respect with 1.5 million other people who were singing, chanting and clapping. A little girl screamed “Je suis Charlie” at the top of her longs on the balcony and everybody on the streets joined in and repeated every worth she sad. Goosebumps! It is amazing to see that jews, atheists, catholics, muslims, women, men, young, old, poor and rich were one. The vibe was extremely positive and supportive.
Yesterday was an example of what we are able to achieve, a message of hope. I already posted this quote by Christopher Reeve on Instagram: “Once you choose hope, anything is possible”. And I hope wholeheartedly that 2015 will live up to this!