At the Charlie trial, tribute to cartoonists “in love with freedom”

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They were “happy”, “humanist”, “curious”: relatives of cartoonists Cabu, Charb and Honoré, murdered in the attack on Charlie Hebdo, sketched the portraits of journalists “committed” and “freedom-loving”, Thursday at the trial of the January 2015 attacks.

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“They could write everything, draw everything, say everything. It is this freedom that the terrorists and their accomplices wanted to destroy, ”says Véronique Cabut in a firm voice before the special court of assizes in Paris, which judges 14 defendants suspected of providing logistical support to the perpetrators of the attacks.

But “the terrorists have lost, Charlie Hebdo is alive, Charlie Hebdo is here!”, Thunders Mrs. Cabut.

On January 7, 2015, her husband, Jean Cabut, whose real name was Jean Cabut, was shot dead by the brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi in the premises of the newspaper he had helped to relaunch in 1992, alongside nine other people, including cartoonists. Charb, Tignous, Honoré and Wolinski.

In three days, the attacks against Charlie Hebdo, the police and the Hyper Cacher have left 17 dead and sowed fear in France and around the world.

Who were these designers “dead for their ideas”? Their widow, daughter, mother or partner told the bar their common passion for drawing and their shared commitments: “freedom”, anti-militarism, anti-racism, the defense of the most precarious.

The violence of the attack is “so opposed to what my father was, a gentle and happy man,” testifies Hélène Honoré, the only daughter of the designer who was murdered at the age of 73.

Moved at the moment of “reviving (her) father”, the young woman with the slender figure, her hair tied in a ponytail, says Philippe Honoré, this “self-taught” scholar who fought for “the right for all to a dignified life ”.

Gently, she explains often thinking about what her father “would have said to the Kouachi brothers” if he had had the time. “He would have talked to them calmly, would have offered to sit down, and would have talked to them about drawing, would have asked them questions about their childhood.”

“I know this is not the reality. The reality is the most extreme, the most brutal violence. No one will ever be able to tell me why my father died, but I know that he did not live for nothing, ”says Hélène Honoré.

“An open wound”

“Hard worker”, the “happy” Cabu had a fondness for cakes and a great passion for Charles Trénet, jazz and baroque music, remembers his widow Véronique.

“His life was drawing”. At 15, the author of the characters of Grand Duduche and Beauf – a word entered later in the dictionary – was already sketching the municipal council of his hometown, Châlons-en-Champagne.

Cabu is also the model of generations of young designers, including Stéphane Charbonnier dit Charb, the former editorial director of Charlie Hebdo. “He admired her, he listened to her on Dorothée’s shows, he wanted to draw like him”, relates his mother, Denise Charbonnier.

Like her model, Charb “always drew” from kindergarten on and made her classmates laugh, she continues, draped in a red scarf.

He was still “drawing”, even when he began to be threatened, after the fire that destroyed the former headquarters of the satirical weekly in November 2011.

The newspaper had moved in the summer of 2014, and “security was a little relaxed”, judge Denise Charbonnier, who had opened up after the attacks on the president of the time, François Hollande.

“He said ‘you know, there would have been a police car in front, that wouldn’t have changed much.’ This is the only response I got so I moved on ”, notes Ms. Charbonnier.

“I miss him a lot, it’s an open wound that will never heal,” she said in a small voice, before having the court show a few caricatures of Charb curbing fanaticisms, capitalism and certain political leaders.

So a brief moment, in the courtroom, smiles and laughs wipe away the tears. In their glass boxes, all the defendants have their eyes fixed on the big screen. Some even stifle laughter under their masks.

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