Almost a month ago, the French Club at the University of Chicago invited Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui to discuss "freedom of expression in our contemporary society." The event on freedom of expression, however, quickly turned to a kickboxing match with a single kickboxer and Islam as her punching bag.
It might be hard to believe today, but in the eight years or so that preceded the day when gunmen went into its office, calling, "Where's Charb? Where's Charb?" before indiscriminately killing the editor and several staffers, I had thought of Charlie Hebdo with some envy. The staffers had gone to court and won their cases; two of France's premiers had backed them on the right to continue being offensive in the same decade when we in India had lost the right to offend. They had been able to exercise a freedom that many Indians had not been able to claim.