After the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, the reaction in Paris is raw: war has been declared on the values of the French Republic. First order of business: know your enemy.
PARIS — Bastards in balaclavas have declared war on France, on our democracy, on our values. On freedom. We felt it rising, this terrorist vermin. We felt it coming to our door, this senseless hate. We were even "warned" by those who would enjoy nothing more than seeing us on our knees.
From the Sahel to the Syrian plains and the small, quiet Parisian street that's home to the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, it's the same barbaric front that is defying who we are. Our freedom annoys these Islamist fanatics. Charb, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous' pencils trouble them, their drawings haunt their poor minds, they can't bear our laughter. They are against life, and hate what they see in the West. It's no surprise that these jihadists wanted to strike in the heart of the country of Enlightenment.
Islamism is an intellectual void. Everywhere it spreads, it attacks knowledge, forbidding millions of girls from going to school every year, while recruiting boys in madrasas. Whether they are called the Taliban or ISIS, there is one clear way to recognize these barbarians: They abhor those who make good use of a pen. Words, freedom of speech, that exhilarating joy of making fun of something, this freedom, also, of saying whatever we want just because we feel like it, it repulses them. They can't even understand it. They draw their dark veil over knowledge, progress, the spirit of Voltaire, this master of satire and caricature. They want to imprison us inside their void. They will fail, but after how much grief, pain, irreparable loss!
This attack against our colleagues is clearly not the act of a few desperate individuals. It was carefully planned, and the arsenal used suggests it was very well organized. All indications are that it was designed to undermine French society to its very core, at a time when it is fragile. The attack is intended to push our different communities to rise up against each other.
Faced with this barbaric cowardice, there will be no surrender. The fight against obscurantism has of course been unfolding outside our borders, against ISIS, Boko Haram and all the gruesome organizations of the same ilk around the world.
But it also plays out here at home, through the reaffirmation of our republic's principles, without which no national community can stand. We must reaffirm the principle of secularism, a founding and singular value of the French identity against which the Islamists have been carrying out a true crusade. We must not give anything away on diversity, a non-negotiable principle to which certain minds from the dark ages object, finding here and there pretexts to slyly separate genders or hide women's faces.
Nothing, lastly, must hinder our freedom of thought. We earned it by dint of fights that forged this country. We know the values we have inherited and what we must do so that the test we are facing can actually make the nation stronger, more united. It's the least France owes to its new martyrs.