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Protests centred on free speech

Last week’s shocking events in France brought millions of people together hoping for the capture of those responsible.

The senseless acts of a mindless minority in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of 17 people, also sparked mass support for the right of free speech, something that is essential in my profession.

I admit it was empowering to see support for these basic principles that we work under.

The cartoons that followed from artists and satirists were remarkably stirring, my favourite being The Independent’s front page, which featured a striking cartoon by Dave Brown.

It must have taken a lot for Amol Rajan, the editor, to say yes to a full front page of a cartoon hand displaying the middle finger to the attackers who were trying to prevent journalists and artists from expressing their opinions.

The magazine in the firing line, Charlie Hebdo, may be a controversial one, and its work may to many have crossed the line, but nobody was harmed and, crucially, as I was always taught, if you don’t like what somebody has said, just ignore them.

Because of the type of industry that we are in, all newspapers and journalists will come in for criticism – rightly or wrongly – for what they publish.

As much as we try to present the facts of the story from a neutral point of view, there will always come a time when it may seem one side has been given precedence over another.

In the case of the French terror attacks, it was important for people across the world to protest for peace and for the basic right of free speech.

It is just a shame that it has taken such a merciless act to drive these emotions.

A saving grace is that it has brought about thoughts of peace, not of reprisals.

In another matter close to my heart, I have received wonderful sporting news.

Just before Christmas, I was informed that I was part of the UK tchoukball squad going to the World Tchoukball Championships in Taiwan in the summer.

As part of this, training programmes have intensified with the requirement to find ever more time to train and improve fitness.

To achieve this, and to get involved in the local community, I thought I would ask if there are any sports teams or organisations that would want to invite me down for an evening to try out your sport – it could even result in an write-up in the Free Press. Equally, I would love people to try out my sport.

Tchoukball is still a relatively small sport, though I know it was once reasonably popular in Sudbury and especially Great Cornard.

I now play with a few of those who learned the sport in Great Cornard at Bury Tchoukball Club as part of the national championship-winning side.

Four former Sudbury and Great Cornard players are in the UK sides heading to Taiwan and it would be great to see the sport return to the area.

I would love to spread the word and would happily offer a free coaching session. To get in touch about either opportunity, email ian.parker@suffolkfreepress.co.uk.

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