Wednesday, three Islamic terrorists launched a heinous and cowardly attack on the office of a French newspaper that publishes satirical articles and cartoons. Apparently, the terrorists, two of whom were identified as French citizens (the third was unidentified as I write this), had objected to the newspaper’s publishing of a satirical cartoon poking fun at the prophet Mohammed. They murdered 12 people at the publication, including the editorial director, Stephane Charbonnier, and wounded eleven others. They left shouting “Allahu Akbar,” which translates into “God is great.” As I write this blog, two of the three are still at large, but they have been identified and no doubt will be apprehended.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated instance. We are all familiar with the recent Islamic terror attacks in the US, such as Fort Hood (sorry, not “buying” “workplace violence”), Boston marathon, and police officers Ramos and Liu. In addition, there have been several such attacks in Europe, to wit:
l. March 2012 – A terrorist linked to al-Qaeda gunned down three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, France.
2. May 2013 – Two al-Qaeda terrorists murdered a British soldier in London. They ran him down in the street and then proceeded to brutally hack him to death.
3. May 2014 – A terrorist linked to ISIS murdered four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels with a Kalashnikov.
Terrorist attacks are definitely on the rise in Europe as well as the US, and virtually all of them have been perpetrated by extremist Muslims. One would be hard-pressed to recall a terrorist attack by a non-Muslim.
In my opinion, France seems to have the biggest problem with extreme Muslims. Some of the reasons are:
l. France has maintained strong economic, social and political ties with several Muslim countries, notably Algeria and Syria, a holdover from the colonial period. Many of you may recall that Algeria fought a long, brutal war with France in the 1950s to obtain its independence. Consequently, there is still latent animosity among some elderly Muslims, particularly those originally from Algeria.
2. France probably has the most Muslims of any European country, about 5 million. Many of them have emigrated to France from North Africa and the Middle East over the last 60 years. At first, the French encouraged emigration because Muslims were a source of cheap labor. But, now, many of their descendants are unemployed and disaffected. In addition, many Muslims resist assimilation into their new country’s society.
3. Most significantly, France is a very strongly secular country. It has many laws that discourage public displays of religion. These secularist laws, even though they apply to all religions, are particularly offensive to some Muslims. For example:
a. There are bans on crosses, yarmulkes and veils in schools.
b. In one famous (or, perhaps, notorious) case in 2008 a French court denied French citizenship to a Moroccan woman on the grounds that her wearing a veil and her strict submissiveness to her husband constituted “assimilation defects.”
c. In 2010 the French Senate banned the wearing of face-coverings in public.
d. In 2013 the French government promulgated a set of guidelines for schools, which were aimed at excluding religion from schools.
Charlie Hebdo has a long history of satire. It is its “bread and butter.” No person or group has been immune. Sometimes, it has pushed the envelope. For example, just last month it published a cartoon mocking the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. Did any Catholics riot or attack the newspaper? Nooooo! They accepted it as satire or, perhaps, an expression of freedom of the press that was silly and beneath addressing. Not so in the radical Muslim world where humor and self-deprecation are absent, and the slightest insult, real or perceived, must be avenged violently.
Following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo many world leaders, including President Obama, issued comments condemning the attack as an affront to the principle of free expression. That’s fine as far as it goes. But, no one seems to want to address the root of the problem, the 500-pound gorilla in the room as it were, which is the ongoing terrorism being perpetrated by radical Muslim groups. Moderate Muslim political and religious leaders remain silent either out of fear or tacit approval. Muslim states that sponsor and/or finance terrorism, such as Iran and Pakistan, are allowed to do so with impunity. Where are the financial or economic sanctions or other measures that might dissuade them? Western political and religious leaders are even afraid to label these attacks as “terrorism” either out of fear of retaliation or of being accused of Islamaphobia. Instead, they use more benign descriptions, such as “demonstrations,” “workplace violence,” or “lone-wolf attacks.” Political correctness is running amok. Enough, already! Do any objective, thoughtful, knowledgeable people “buy” these characterizations? Hopefully, not. Let’s recognize it for what it is, and call a spade a spade. All these wimpy reactions do is encourage further terrorist attacks.
Everyone knows that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today. If even .1% of them are Jihadists, probably a low estimate, that still amounts to 1.6 million Jihadists. The world has to address the actions of the violent minority. Students of history will see a parallel to Germany in the 1930s. At first, only a small percentage of Germans were Nazis, but the vast majority of Germans stood by and did nothing. Soon, a tipping point had been reached, and it was too late. Soon, it may also be too late in this instance