ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The French Republic Unveiled

Charlie and the Underdog

The mobilisations following the attacks in Paris revealed a moral and political crisis. The call for national unity should however stop delegitimising and criminalising dissenting voices and give way to critical introspection regarding France's inability to face its societal and political failures. Rather than merely hammering republican values, the acceptance of postcolonial immigrants as full-fledged citizens with specific problems, experiences, and voices represents the only path to a democratic future.

The three days of violence in Paris, which resulted in the killings of 10 staff members of Charlie Hebdo, three policemen, as well as four other victims in a Jewish supermarket two days later, not to forget the three terrorists who were shot by the police (who are too often neglected in the final toll), has created a huge moral crisis in France. In spite of its much shorter development, its intensity and depth could perhaps be compared only to the Affaire Dreyfus at the turn of the 20th century, which revealed the depth of French anti-Semitism as well as produced the figure of the engaged intellectual.

The higher number of victims in comparison to earlier terrorist attacks in France does not suffice to explain the magnitude of the collective trauma. The depth of the feeling of loss and mourning witnessed in France of course revealed the attachment of the French to well-known characters across generations who represented a certain spirit of insolence and irreverence towards all religions and the establishments, thus embodying the spirit of the civil unrest in 1968.

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