Rutte: ‘Keep your hands off our freedom’

Prime Minister Mark Rutte spoke on Dam Square in Amsterdam at the demonstration to honour the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris and to express support for the victims' loved ones.

'Yesterday in Paris twelve people were murdered in cold blood. Twelve gatekeepers of freedom. Including our freedom.

Today we are gathered here on Dam Square in Amsterdam, and in towns all over the Netherlands. United in outrage. United in anger. But above all, united in our unshakable conviction.

And we are not alone. Everywhere in Europe, people are standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder. In solidarity with France, with the victims and with the victims' loved ones. We are here to say that hatred and violence must never and will never defeat respect and tolerance. We are here because freedom and democracy are non-negotiable. There is simply no such thing as being half free. And while freedom implies responsibility, it must never mean self-censorship.

We will not let fear govern our lives. We will not let anyone take away our freedom. That is the message that we are sending tonight, loud and clear. Here on Dam Square, and in many other places. On this there is complete consensus. And whatever differences people may have, this is what binds us together, with each other and with the victims of yesterday's attack. Our common awareness that our democracy is precious but vulnerable and that we must come together in defending it. Every day, and especially on a day like today.

Our country and its neighbours have room for everyone's beliefs and everyone's convictions. This freedom is not always easy to live with. Because it does not only protect opinions we are comfortable with, compliments and innocuous commentary. Freedom also protects unwelcome and caustic criticism, sharp disagreement and sarcastic mockery. That is the essence of democracy. It is at the heart of true freedom.

After all, what is the first thing that dictators forbid? Making fun of authority. The freedom to criticise and make fun of authority is the ultimate proof that we are civilised people. That we never try to silence each other. The murderers tried to kill free speech yesterday by taking aim at journalists. We must answer them with words: loud words, strong words, free words. The murderers tried to kill our sense of security yesterday by executing police officers. We must answer them by showing solidarity with our police. By protecting one another. By cherishing mockery, satire and jokes about everyone and everything.

There is no place in our society for fundamentalist violence and intolerance. And this cowardly murder of twelve people only strengthens us in this conviction. What happened yesterday in Paris shows how real and close the threat of terror is. We are and will remain alert. Together, we are and will remain vigilant.

What it comes down to is this: yesterday fanatics carried out a barbaric attack, which touches us all. Today we are responding in the thousands: Keep your hands off our freedom. Since yesterday, the voice of Charlie Hebdo is more pervasive and more powerful than ever. And that is the best answer we can give.'