There are few sounds more chilling than gunfire.
Many of us had shocking glimpses of today’s terrorist atrocity in Paris through instant video footage, including the distressing sight of a helpless policeman executed in the street.
At the time of writing, the two Kalashnikov killers are at large, having been seen on camera fleeing in a hijacked car, their depraved work done for the time being.
Make no mistake, they, or killers like them, will strike again. Here, there, anywhere. Time and time again. Without warning, without conscience. Their rationale for murder, children and adults alike, is beyond our comprehension, beyond our morality, beyond reality.
This is about no-holds-barred terrorism, through the conduit of religious fundamentalism, but nebulous – and all the more frightening for it. You never know who will be next.
At least 12 people were killed, and at least 10 others injured, when the masked gunmen opened fire on staff in the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the newspaper firebombed four years ago for publishing a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.
Fate spared the life of editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard; he was in London. “‘I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons,” he said. “A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”
Actually, a newspaper is a weapon and the pen is often mightier than the sword.
Ill-doers, criminals, dictators, the morally bankrupt, fanatics from all quarters, fear being burned by the acid of truth. For them, an open democratic media is a threat to their power base, to their operations, to their very existence.
With that in mind, we should all stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with France, Canada, Pakistan, Australia and other countries where loved ones have been violently taken from us, including here in Britain.
That should include not giving the oxygen of publicity – online or in print – to deadly fundamentalists whose interests are inimical to democratic societies.
From governments we need reassurance that the intelligence services are not short of resources in thwarting attacks.
And may journalists across the free world have the courage to keep on unmasking abuses and exposing terror. Their pens must not be stayed by fear but be moved by our hopes for a safer future.
– RON WAIN, Deep South Media.