7 Jan 2015

Charlie Hebdo shooting is a ferociously shocking moment

Even for a hardened news man in a hardened newsroom the mass shooting at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is a ferociously shocking moment.

We know at least 12 are dead, 5 are critically wounded and others beside. And those numbers will doubtless change during the day.

It happens at a very tender moment for European politics, at a tender moment for the Islamic world. Wracked with violence from northern Nigeria all the way to Pakistan by radical action and bloodletting.

Coming so close on the heels of the massacre of schoolchildren at their desks in a Pakistani school it is a harrowing repetition of man’s inhumanity to man.

Communal tensions

In Europe, with anti-immigrant parties on the move and demonstrations in Germany this is an event that will do nothing to heal communal tensions and wounds.

It is an event which calls for leadership which so many crave for in so many different European democracies. David Cameron and Angela Merkel – each with their own domestic communal difficulties to wrestle with – now find themselves with an item on their agenda which in immediate terms transcends any other business they have to conduct.

Make no mistake, this is a landmark moment in the affairs of man. And it is hard in this moment to predict where it will go. But it undoubtedly calls for restraint and for sober assessment of the factors involved.

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