JULIE BISHOP I know it’s a particularly busy day on a Monday so I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me.
Coming from Australia we see satire as an integral part of French society. It is as French as croissants. Satire is controversial, it is provocative, it offends all religions, all political parties. Nothing and nobody is spared. Satire is a counterbalance against power and is a necessary part of the way French people see themselves and the world.
This magazine, Charlie Hebdo, is the exemplar of the irreverence that underpins satire. But nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies what happened in Paris on the 7th and 8th of January this year. The events of those two days reflect the perverted hatred of the terrorists, but also reflected the stoicism and the courage of the people who work here and the horrendous experience that you had at that time. We admire those who are still working here and those who have come to work here since the tragedy.
The world came together in revulsion and horror, but also united behind this magazine and the values that French people hold so dear, particularly freedom of expression, freedom of speech. The rallying cry, “je suis Charlie” reverberated around the world and we watched as four million people marched in France and a million people here in Paris. The march of unity brought together the President of the Republic, world leaders, indeed our own President of the Senate travelled the furthest, some 30 hours, to be here for the march. And we admired immensely the fact that those who had been through so much were still able to put out an edition on the 14th of January; our Ambassador to Paris sent me a copy, I have my own copy of this in my parliamentary ministerial office in Canberra, Australia.
Now, on that day, a cartoonist at the Canberra Times, which is a newspaper in our national capital, was watching the events unfold on TV, and he drew a cartoon at that time and he put it online and it went viral around the world. His name is David Pope, of Fairfax media, the publisher of the Canberra Times. It is a simple, yet powerful and poignant reflection of the utterly and absolutely disproportionate response to the work of this magazine and encapsulates the brutality of the terrorists and the dignity of this magazine.
So, on behalf of the Australian people, I wanted to personally tell you how much we felt for you, how much we admire the courage of those who work at this magazine and how deeply we felt for those that you lost, their families and for the colleagues who were here. And Riss, as someone who was here on that day, was attacked, spent time in hospital but was still able to draw two cartoons for the 14th of January edition, may I present the original of this cartoon by David Pope to you, as an expression of sympathy and admiration from the people of Australia.
LAURENT “RISS” SOURISSEAU In the name of Charlie Hebdo, we thank you. We thank cartoonist David Pope. Most of all we thank the Australians for their support and their encouragements to keep making this magazine. We’ll do our best to keep doing this magazine, as we’ve always done, without caring about those who don’t like us.
JULIE BISHOP You have our heartfelt support and our deepest sympathies but we encourage you to keep doing what you do.
Doorstop interview with Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau – Director of Charlie Hebdo
JOURNALIST Well if we can start, the first question I’d like to ask is what does it mean to have the Australian Foreign Minister visit today and make this presentation?
LAURENT “RISS” SOURISSEAU It’s an extreme honour for us because we’re not always aware of the consequences of the Charlie Hebdo attacks on the other side of the world and having someone visiting us from afar is a very good testimony of the fact that what happened to us has been heard and seen abroad.
JOURNALIST On the cartoon, which made such an impact in Australia and around the world – it was an amazing piece of work – what do you see when you see this particular piece?
LAURENT SOURISSEAU This is something we could have drawn, each and every one of us here, because this is exactly how we felt and how we feel.
JOURNALIST Can I ask the question, it has been such a difficult time for you and for your staff, but you keep going, you keep putting out the magazine, can you give us an indication of just how tough it’s been?
LAURENT SOURISSEAU It’s been extremely difficult for all of us indeed, but we had to carry on because it’s all that we can do, but it’s all that we like to do and this newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, is all our lives.
JOURNALIST Does it help to have support like this from overseas and also to have the support of people buying the magazine? So many more people know about Charlie Hebdo now, so many more people subscribe and support you. Is that helpful for you?
LAURENT SOURISSEAU Yes, this support and the fact that your readers are now waiting for the newspaper to be published is a good reason to carry on and go forward, but it’s also now a bigger responsibility, now that so much is on us.
JOURNALIST Well done. Sir, thank you very much.
Doorstop interview with FM Bishop
JOURNALIST Minister, can we ask you, I’m feeling something, what was it like for you to walk through these doors and meet with these people?
JULIE BISHOP It is a humbling experience to be amongst people who have been through such an horrific attack and I was here to just give a small gesture to the people here, to let them know that the Australian people watched this on our TVs. We were horrified by it, we were appalled by the brutality of the attack and yet we admired their courage and their stoicism for still working here, for the people who have joined Charlie Hebdo since the attacks and the fact that they are still putting out their irreverent, satirical magazine week after week. And I thought it was a nice gesture to provide the original of the cartoon that David Pope of the Canberra Times had published on the evening of the attacks. His very simple but poignant cartoon expressed the views of the world as we responded to the brutal attack with revulsion, with horror. And so to meet some of the people here has been a very special moment for me in Paris.
JOURNALIST We didn’t know you were coming, this was a very last minute, well it was last week we were told, last minute entry into your diary. Was this a personal move, was this something you were thinking about and wanted to?
JULIE BISHOP Well it’s very much something that I had been discussing with the Ambassador, and of course we had to get the original of the cartoon from David Pope, so Fairfax knew we were doing this, but we are very aware of the sensitivities of being here. We are very aware that the people who work here are targets and that they have an inordinate amount of security around them and so we wanted to keep it very quiet out of respect for them and their workplace. And today they are putting out another edition of Charlie Hebdo so it’s a very busy work day for them as well.
JOURNALIST I’m struck by the symbolism too, I mean you’ve come straight from Iran to here so where do you (inaudible) into that?
JULIE BISHOP Indeed, the paradoxes of the globe at present. Of course coming from Iran where there isn’t the press freedom that there is in France gives us a significant contrast, but the world over, people are taking action against the brutality of terrorism, the brutality of the terrorist acts that we saw here in Paris on the 7th and 8th of January. So this is an expression of our sympathy for the people here at Charlie Hebdo, but also a defiance about our response to terrorism. We won’t be defeated and I think the courage that the people at Charlie Hebdo show should be reflected around the world.
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