Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

Terror attacks cannot save Islam’s ‘honour’

By Husain Haqqani

Soon after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, Islamist sympathizers on social media unleashed familiar rhetoric. AlQaida and ISIS supporters used Arabic language hashtags like “our revenge for the messenger (Muhammad)”, “Paris is the messenger (Muhammad)”, “Paris is Burning”, “Paris under Fire” and “Lions of Tawheed (monotheism)”. One self-styled jihadi tweeted, “This is the first reaction. You’ll not live in safety again.” Another said: “This proves that the Islamic State can strike deep in Europe whenever it wishes.” Someone styling himself as Abu Sari alIraqi put up a graphic of the Islamic State’s black flag on the Eiffel Tower, with the slogan in French: “We are everywhere.”

Such bombast reflects the emptiness of the Islamist dream. The killing of unarmed cartoonists and journalists is hardly an act of courage. Paris did not, in fact, burn and this latest act of terrorism mobilized the French against the jihadis just as terrorist attacks in New York, London and Mumbai had united people against them in the past.

More important, terrorism is unlikely to dissuade anyone so inclined to refrain from insulting Islam, its prophet or Muslims. Like followers of any other religion, Muslims do not like insults to their faith or to their prophet. But threats and actual attacks of the type witnessed in Paris last week have been limited to Islamists.

Contrary to the assertion of some, such violence has nothing to do with recent wars or the policies of great powers in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. A man named Alam Din from Lahore was proclaimed a ‘ghazi’ for killing a Hindu publisher of a book insulting Prophet Muhammad in 1929. Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ prompted fatwas and violent protests 50 years later. These incidents cannot be attributed as reaction to US military intervention.

Of course, not all of the world’s over one billion Muslims react to real or perceived insults to their religion in the same manner. Believers in different deities and prophets have often slandered each other’s faiths. Islam has endured its share of criticism and abuse over the centuries, especially from Christians, against whom they fought the Crusades and the Ottoman wars.

But in earlier times, Muslims responded to religious affronts by pointing out flaws in other religions and outlining their own perfect faith. Their armies were violent but so were the armies of others. When Muslim emperors ruled over large non-Muslim populations, preachers and Sufi mystics worked to win converts to Islam. There is no record in those days of targeted attacks in retaliation for blasphemy against the prophet or Islam in distant lands.

The phenomenon of violent outrage over insults to Islam seems to have started during western colonial rule, with Muslim politicians seeking issues to mobilize their constituents. Contemporary jihadism seems to have grown out of the slogan ‘Islam in Danger’, which has been periodically invoked as a rallying cry for Islamist politics.

Ironically, it is the Islamists who draw attention to otherwise obscure attacks on Islam and then use those to muster popular support. The reaction makes more people aware of a book like Rushdie’s or a film like ‘The Innocence of Muhammad’. Charlie Hebdo regularly published only 45,000 copies but will likely be read by hundreds of thousands now.

The violence over ‘Islam’s honour’ is a function of the collective Muslim narrative of grievance. Decline, weakness, impotence, and helplessness are phrases most frequently repeated in the speeches and writings of today’s Muslim leaders. The view is shared by Islamists, who consider Islam a political ideology , and other Muslims who don’t. The terrorists are just the most extreme element among the Islamists. As a community , Muslims are obsessed with their past pre-eminence, which stands in stark contrast with their current weakness. The bravado of beheading blasphemers and thinking a terrorist attack can change the global order are ways of reclaiming a glory that is vividly recalled but not seen by Muslims in recent centuries.

Like all national and community narratives, this one has elements of truth. But it is equally true that Muslims have made no serious effort to understand the causes and remedies of their decline over the past 300 years. Outrage, resentment and violence -and the conspiracy theories that inform them -serve as palliatives for an Ummah that reads little, writes even less, hasn’t invented much in recent centuries, and wields little political or military power in the contemporary world. Dealing with the causes of Muslim decline, not random or orchestrated acts of terrorism, would be the real way forward in saving Muslims from dishonour.

The writer is former Pakistan envoy to the US.

Courtesy: The Times of India
Learn more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/all-that-matters/Terror-attacks-cannot-save-Islams-honour/articleshow/45839372.cms

Charlie Hebdo attacks: Vast Paris rally to take place

Huge crowds and some 40 world leaders have gathered in Paris for a unity march after 17 people were killed during three days of deadly attacks.

More than a million marchers are expected to take the streets.

Police are seeking accomplices of the gunmen who attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

Ahead of the rally, a video emerged appearing to show supermarket gunman Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to militant group Islamic State.

In the video, he said he was working with the Charlie Hebdo attackers: “We have split our team into two… to increase the impact of our actions.”

Said and Cherif Kouachi – who were shot dead by police on Friday – killed 11 people at the magazine offices in the French capital on Wednesday, and a policeman in a nearby street.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765824

A Postcard From Paris

By

I arrived in Paris yesterday, scheduled to give a series of lectures in philosophy. The lectures are in political philosophy, on how power distorts liberal democracy. I’ve been nervous about giving these lectures in Paris, the city in which a liberal democratic revolution toppled a system of power, monarchy, which seemed to those subject to it both permanent and inevitable.

My plane, scheduled to arrive to 8:30 a.m., was late. By the time my taxi made its way to my apartment in the 11th arrondissement, it was nearly noon. Cordons of police were blocking the streets, and the sound of sirens was everywhere. My taxi driver swore and took a side street to my destination. I ducked into a cafe next to my apartment, awaiting my keys. There I heard the startling news that we had driven past the scene of a terrorist attack, and that the target was Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper famed for ridiculing authority in all its incarnations. Among the 12 people killed were four of France’s most famous satirical cartoonists.

Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/a-postcard-from-paris/?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Vigils held across Europe in support of Charlie Hebdo, press freedom

Thousands gathered for rallies in French cities, standing in solidarity with victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris that killed 12 on Wednesday. At the biggest rally, in Paris, people lit candles and held up their pens to support press freedom.

Paris witnessed a large rally on Place de la République, which is located close to the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Masked gunmen stormed the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning. Ten journalists and two policemen were killed. Police said that three gunmen carried out the assault. They are still at large, while Paris is on high alert.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/220671-rally-europe-france-shooting/

Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12

Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.

The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.

Death threats

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”).

The number of attackers was initially reported to be two, but French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said security services were hunting three “criminals”. He said that Paris had been placed on the highest alert.

Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection.

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski. The attack took place during the magazine’s daily editorial meeting.

At least seven people were wounded in the attack, with several in critical condition.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

People had been “murdered in a cowardly manner”, President Hollande told reporters at the scene. “We are threatened because we are a country of liberty,” he added, appealing for national unity.

Courtesy: BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30710883