HUFFINGTON POST
01/08/2015 07:28 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2015

Jeannette Bougrab, Partner Of Charlie Hebdo Editor Charb, Speaks About His Death

Jeannette Bougrab, partner of slain Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, spoke about his death on French television station BFMTV.

The former French Secretary for Youth and Community Life described how she got the news that he was killed. "I was at a state meeting and I learned there had been a shooting. Then I sent him a text, a second text, third text, and then I phoned him and he wasn't answering, and he never did that," she said. "When I got there, there were the cordons, and we weren't allowed to get in, and I learned there that he was dead."

"He died standing," Bougrab said. "He defended secularism, he defended Voltaire's spirit, he in fact was really the fruit of this ideal of the Republic that we've almost forgotten. He died, executed with his comrades, as he would say."

Her words echoed Charbonnier's own. "I'd rather die standing than live on my knees," he said, quoting Emiliano Zapata, in 2012 after the paper's offices were firebombed.

Bougrab asserted that, if she were the president of the Republic, she would give all of the slain cartoonists the honor of being buried in the Panthéon, a monument in Paris where Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are also buried. "They died defending freedom of expression, secularism," she said of the cartoonists. "They have died so we can stay free in this country, in France in 2015."

Bougrab is a member of the French Council Of State, and of Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party. She served as the chair of the French Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination Commission during his administration. French newspaper Libération described her as a "hard secularist" in a 2013 profile, a daughter of Algerian immigrants who has been a fierce critic of religion, and particularly of Islam.

BFMTV's Ruth Elkriefit asked if it might be a kind of victory, a sign of hope, that so many people around the world are rallying around the slogan "Je suis Charlie."

"Absolutely not, because he's dead," Bougrab replied. "It's absolutely not a victory. It's a defeat. It's a tragedy for our country and I refuse to rejoice in the idea that people are demonstrating in the streets. Because they have torn away the precious being who accompanied me in life."

Jeannette Bougrab: "Mon compagnon est mort... by BFMTV

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