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A clarion call to uphold values of decency

Thousands of people wave national flags and hold placards that read "I am Charlie" at the Place de la Nation in Paris Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. More than 40 world leaders, their arms linked, marched through Paris Sunday to rally for unity and freedom of expression and to honor 17 victims of three days of terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Much of the free world is still trying to come to grips with how one can evolve into a killing machine that ignores every basic value of decency and respect for human life, with an ideology of such hatred that no one outside their twisted objectives is safe.

It presents a mammoth task for world leaders, as this problem remains a grave threat to global security, peace and stability.

The tragic deaths in France of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and the victims gunned down at a Jewish grocery store sent shock waves throughout the world that radical extremism in various forms is a real danger to all freedom-loving people.

There is no quick solution that would protect innocent people from pockets of evil doers who wait in the shadows to carry out acts of terror.

It is not a question of people disagreeing with one another, but instead an issue of people who feel entitled to eliminate those opposed to their view point. True freedom and values are destroyed whenever the core order of a decent society is shattered by those with no respect for law and order, or indeed life.

Although there were numerous incidents with heavy loss of life as a result of terrorism last year, what happened in Paris recently touched a nerve that caused people around the world to unite in a manner seldom seen, to march and send a message that terrorism will not be a winner no matter what price has to be paid to protect good values.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended a mass rally in Paris along with dozens of world leaders, said the march involving over a million people took place mainly to uphold values that build societies rather than tear them down. That was certainly the sentiment that saw people of different religious faiths join hands in condemning such acts of brutality that serve no purpose in helping people to learn to live together in peace.

One Muslim official expressing his disdain over the senseless violence, said no cartoon could ever cause the damage sustained by the cold-blooded murder of innocent lives. Freedom of expression is a two-way street held high by democratic societies. As top American television journalist Scott Pelly put it, the only victory terrorists could claim would be our silence when such awful deeds occur.

United States President Barack Obama announced a major summit next month involving nations around the world in an effort to collectively deal with the threat of terrorism that is creating an atmosphere of tension and fear.

How people evolve into killers for this or that cause is very complex since extremists in some countries are openly defying the Government or any authority. It is far from a pleasant thought.

At the moment, France is on high alert to prevent further acts of terrorism, and other nations, including Britain and America, have stepped up security at what could be potential targets by either a lone wolf, or those with links to known terrorists groups. It is an enormous task by antiterrorist organisations to be able to have every single suspect on their radar at all times.

The French President, François Hollande, has urged everyone to be vigilant in the days and months ahead in order to project a broad front against people who choose to destroy and disrupt normal life of peace-loving citizens.

Just as 9/11 changed life in America, France will never be quite the same after the recent carnage.

Despite what seems a rather dark period, the world must stand behind France in the global challenge to eradicate all forms of antisocial behaviour that continues to poison the atmosphere and detract from positive elements that give meaning and purpose for living throughout the world.

No country, not even our beautiful Island, has been untouched by recent events in Paris. We can only hope the clarion call from millions around the world will send the message to terrorists that there will be no silence until terrorism itself is silenced.