On Sunday, January 11th millions of French citizens gathered side by side with notable world leaders through out Parisian streets. Journalists described the somber scene as the most monumental demonstration in the history of France. Rallies were also held in cities around the globe including Tokyo, London and New York, not only to mourn the tragic loss of seventeen innocent French murder victims including police, journalists and cartoonists killed at the headquarters of "Charlie Hebdo," a satirical magazine in Paris but come together to fiercely defend freedom of expression. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated on i Tele TV,
"The terrorists want two things: they want to scare us and they want to divide us. We must do the opposite. We must stand up and we must stay united.”
Why is freedom of expression so crucial for all of us? Freedom of expression is imperative to democratic systems of self-government and especially here in the US because it allows the American people to check and balance our governments corruption or excess. To ensure the American people have power over their elected government, they must be educated, well-informed and most importantly have access to all available ideas, different points of view and unfiltered information. The greatest breeding ground for prejudice, hatred and ignorance is oppression. Tyranny is why extremists thrive in certain areas of the world. Extremists gain power by suppressing education, tolerance and basic human rights.
Our right to express our thoughts, play with "good" and "bad" ideas, criticize and satirize freely with others affirms our own creativity and unique individuality. Every man, woman and child was born with human rights, deserves dignity and should be allowed to fulfill their own potential. Freedom of expression encompasses so much more than free speech or free press, it is a true expression of our own humanity which must be actively exercised and protected every day we are alive.