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The Charlie Hebdo shooting: A grim warning

Youssef Sidhom

17 Jan 2015 4:49 pm

Problems on hold

The recent shooting at the Paris office of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly by gunmen who rained bullets at the inmates, killing 12 and injuring 11, to cries of “Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)…we have avenged the Prophet [Muhammad]” horrified and pained the world at large. It was a grim warning that gruesome terrorism was not at Europe’s doorstep but in the home. The cheers of the terrorist killers declared the shooting was a balancing of accounts with the Charlie Hebdo for printing cartoons that were deemed offensive to Islam and its Prophet.

I am against any kind of derision of faith since it achieves nothing but pain to those who hold this faith close to their hearts. But I am also definitely against violence and killing under the pretext of defending faith. Believers cannot force the respect of their faith on others; they can only bring about this respect through their own compassionate, virtuous, wise behaviour. It is futile and erroneous to assume that those who committed the horrendous crime at the Charlie Hebdo have served their religion or upheld its honour, or that the killers who later lost their lives during the shootout with the French police are ‘martyrs’—persons who died for their faith.

Now France has heightened security and, along with other western States, prepares to seriously confront terrorism. We follow the scene; we are neither surprised nor rancorous, for it is impossible to gloat over someone’s grief. Neither France, Western Europe, nor the US could have been taken by surprise; Islamist threats against them have been incessant, Islamic extremism runs free and wild on their lands, and fanatic calls that their communities are ‘infidel’ thrive under the shield of freedom of expression and human rights. No one appears to heed the fact that the propagators of this fanatic thought do not believe in freedom of expression; they merely exploit it to their own ends.

So often has our region warned the West of the fundamentalism and extremism being sowed on its soil. We forewarned that the animosity displayed by Islamists against western society and its values, and the refusal of these fanatics to integrate in the western communities that host them, were ominous signs of rejection. Western reports made no secret of the fact that particular groups of immigrants who fled their countries to the West had acquired legal status and safe haven through western laws of asylum, and were eligible to unemployment benefits and social and medical security. Yet, according to the reports, these immigrants displayed outright hostility towards the societies which so generously accommodated them. They even formed radical groups whose self-declared purpose was to rectify the western society through war, violence and terrorism.

A few years ago, in a horrifying incident, terrorist bombs hit the London underground and a double decker in central London. The then Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that the UK should revise the tolerant policies and legislation that allowed terrorism to creep into their land, enjoy safe haven and the freedom to move around under everyone’s noses. But did this revision take place? Never.

Following the 30 June Revolution in Egypt which put an end to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) rule that had come to Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, the MB moved its headquarters from Cairo to the UK. It arrogantly announced the move and began operating from London. This prompted Prime Minister David Cameron, 10 months ago, to delegate the British Intelligence to compile a report on the activity of the MB and its nature. To date we know nothing about this report or how the UK dealt with its findings. We are only aware of and follow the unbelievable rise in radicalism, extremism and terrorism in Western Europe.

If the West—especially England, France and Germany—persist in procrastinating on the combat of terrorism, hostilities are bound to escalate between their nationals and Muslim immigrants settled on their lands. This risks violence, animosity and the fall of innocent victims on both sides, among whom would be Muslim who might be far separated from extremism or violence. We all know of individuals from the Middle East and Africa who legally emigrated to the West, respected and integrated with their host communities, and abided by their systems and laws. It would not be fair to shatter their security and that of the entire society in order to settle accounts with terrorism that authorities had practically given licence to run wild.

Watani International
18 January 2015


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