BELGRADE – The citizens of Belgrade lit candles in front of the French Cultural Center on Thursday evening, paying tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that claimed the lives of 12 people.
At the gathering organized by the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) the protesters carried a banner reading “Stop the killing of journalists” and posters with the message “We are all Charlie” in French, English and Serbian.
“This was not only a shot at our colleagues, it was a shot at democracy and the freedom of expression,” NUNS President Vukasin Obradovic said.
He pointed to the fact that 118 journalists were killed last year and stressed that the violence against members of the press must be stopped.
“Let us show our solidarity and let this be last time that journalists are harmed as a consequence of someone’s ideological, religious or other motives,” Obradovic said.
The gathering was attended by numerous journalists, Serbian Culture Minister Ivan Tasovac, Director of the Film Archive Radoslav Zelenovic.
A delegation of NUNS visited the French Embassy on Thursday to express condolences to families of the victims and show support to their colleagues and the people of France.
In a meeting with French Embassy Charge d’Affaires Francois Bonet, members of NUNS stressed that “terrorism and death threats are unacceptable as a method of fighting for political, religious and all other ideas.”
As they underlined, “they can only be stopped through a joint action of all those who care about the preservation of personal freedoms and civil liberties for which the modern worlds has been fighting for centuries.”
Masked men stormed in Paris on Wednesday the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, famous for cartoons mocking Islamic leaders, and shot 12 people, shouting “Allahu akbar” and “We have avenged the prophet”.
The victims include 8 editors and journalists, the magazine’s proof-reader and caretaker, and two police officers. Eleven people were injured, some seriously.
It is believed to be the deadliest attack in France since 1961, when right-wingers who wanted to keep Algeria under French rule bombed a train, killing 28 people.