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When Zineb was taken under police protection she realised “for the first time in my life that I was up against something I couldn’t tackle alone. A few weeks after the murder of our colleagues, we who survived ended up in psychotherapy. It took me months to free myself from a feeling of guilt. I felt it was my fault. I was alive and the others were dead. Today I can see that that the only guilty parties are the Kouachi brothers” [the murderers].

Guilt had become very tangible: “I thought I would go mad when I heard that Moustapha Ourrad, our proof-reader, had been killed. He was usually never there on Wednesdays, only on Mondays. He never said what he thought about what we wrote, he concentrated on the grammar. I felt that he’d been killed because of me. It was mostly Charb and I who wrote the critical articles. Moustapha just corrected any mistakes. But he was the one that was killed.”

In the spring of 2016 Zineb published a book, 13, containing interviews with a series of people who experienced the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015. But she doesn’t see herself as a victim of terrorism:  “I haven’t been physically hit, and the pain I feel and the threats and my changed life, they are nothing in comparison with the price these people and my colleagues are paying.”

Zineb gives an example. Simon Fieschi, Charlie Hebdo’s webmaster, was the first the Kouachi brothers shot when they forced their way into the editing room. The bullet went through his spine but he didn’t become lame as everyone feared: “Simon got miraculously better. But when I saw him a short while ago I felt very sorry for him. He had changed so much physically. He can’t walk properly and he can’t eat in a normal way. He can’t live in a normal way.”

But the horror also brought something paradoxical with it  which Zineb explained to me: “Something very beautiful happened to Charlie Hebdo after the attack. Most of us were single and there wasn’t much interest in marriage and having children. But I think five babies were born the same year, and I was one of those that brought a new life into the world.”

Zineb had to go through a divorce first: “After you’ve gone through something so terrible you feel divorced from the world. But you’re also very conscious of the important things in your life. And that was why I divorced my husband. I couldn’t live with somebody who didn’t understand the pain I was going through, and didn’t understand that I would always be marked by that attack and the sorrow it caused.

“For months I was sure that I would never feel anything positive again or fall in love again. Part of me was dead. But at the same time I felt an almost violent urge to give life. For the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of becoming a mother. And then I met the man I live with now. My daughter is nearly 15 months old and I’ve never regretted my decision. For the first time in my life I’ve got a family.”

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