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Following the shocking news that twelve people were shot dead by Muslim fundamentalist gunmen at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7, people from all over the world have shown their support in condemning these attacks. Students from Lancaster University showed their solidarity on Sunday January 11, gathering for a minute’s silence, writing messages of support and holding posters reading ‘Je suis Charlie’.
Around 80 students showed their respects for those who died because of their freedom of speech, writing notes of solidarity placed at the entrance to the underpass.
Victoire Melchiori, a third year student from Paris, organized the gathering. She told SCAN that she was moved to organize an action of solidarity because of how shocking the terror attacks were to her, and many others in the student community. “I think people have been really shocked by the event; no-one really expected it. You always think it is never going happen in your own country so when it happened in France no-one really knew how to handle it and how to fix it.”
She was surprised and heartened by the number of students who came out support freedom of speech, and to condemn islamaphobia and xenophobia in light of the event. “I think we were actually really surprised with the number of people who eventually turned up because I didn’t really expect that many people to come as it was really cold. I was really afraid that people wouldn’t show up because of that and then about 80 people turned up.
“It went really well, and people were really supportive, and it wasn’t just French people, it was people from every nationality so it was really interesting.”
When asked why she though so many people showed their support, Melchiori responded that it was a cause that many people are particularly passionate about. “People really felt passionate about it because it was something they really care about like freedom of speech and it is one of the main values of Western countries. It is not just about the magazine itself but about the symbol of it, people starting to speak out against it and violence, and also islamophobia as well because lots of bad events happened following the terror attack.”
She told SCAN that being from Paris, it was something that particularly hit home and made her want to organize the gathering. “I organized it because I felt really sad about not being able to go to the French gathering, the one in Paris. I know that if had been there I would have gone and I thought that maybe if I am feeling like this maybe some others are feeling the same.”
Numerous Universities have seen similar demonstrations of support across the United Kingdom. Je Suis Charlie.