Belfast Telegraph

Charlie Hebdo vigil: Belfast falls silent in tribute to victims

By Amanda Ferguson

Sixty seconds of solidarité. A minute of silence is the small but poignant gesture that took place in newsrooms and workplaces worldwide yesterday to mourn the loss of 12 people following the massacre at Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris on Wednesday.

On a day of national mourning in France, in public spaces across the UK, Ireland and the far reaches of the globe vigils were held to demonstrate solidarity with those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and to defend Press freedom, including the newsroom of the Belfast Telegraph which has itself suffered the effects of terror.

The paper was bombed in 1976 with one staff member killed and many more injured.

At an event outside Belfast City Hall organised by the NUJ and Amnesty International, pens and pencils were held aloft, while others clutched posters emblazoned with the words Je Suis Charlie to remember the 12 people killed at the satirical newspaper's office by Islamic extremists.

Defiant survivors of the attack on Charlie Hebdo have said they will definitely publish an issue next week.

Among the human rights activist, cartoonists, politicians and journalists at the Belfast vigil yesterday was Sunday World editor Jim McDowell.

"We are all here to commemorate the good people who are dead for doing their job," he said.

"It was a desecration of democracy.

"Of course, we lost our reporter Martin O'Hagan in 2001. We are still waiting for justice for Martin 13 years later."

Former journalist Fearghal McKinney MLA said: "It is important to be here today and express solidarity in a silent, quiet way with those victims and their families.

"This is an attack on freedom of speech and when we lose the right to free speech we have lost everything."

Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon said: "As a city Belfast has known its fair share of tragedy and pain so I think it is poignant that we come together and stand in solidarity with those who were tragically killed in Paris.

"It is important that out of this tragedy we don't have another tragedy where hearts are hardened toward our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: "Journalists must be able to carry out their work without fear of deadly violence. This atrocity sought to kill journalists, supPress freedom of expression and sow fear."

Stefanie Duchene (21) from Lyon in France was also at the vigil. She said: "I feel disgusted because it is something that affects every single one of us, freedom of speech and especially in France where human rights has always been something really important with the declaration of independence. Almost everyone I know has been to a gathering like this."

Nathalie Donnelly from Saint Etienne said: "You feel incredibly shocked and sad and yet you feel you can't really express your grief because you are afraid it is going to be taken the wrong way, that it is going to be used for racist purposes."

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