It is not Muslims who are the problem but the foreign policies that have helped create terrorism. That is what needs to change. No one can have anything but the profoundest condemnation for the attacks on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. It is reported that 12 people are dead, shot in a commando style attack, and that at least nine of them are journalists.

The magazine has recently published a cartoon of the Islamic state leader, and has a record of publishing anti-Islamic satire. The gunmen are assumed to be in some way connected with Islamic State (ISIS).

There can be no justification for the attack. It should be possible to satirise or to criticise ideas without this being something that can result in death or injury. There must, however, be a response to it that does not lead either to an increase in future terrorist attacks or in a rise in attacks on Muslims.

Neither outcome, unfortunately, is likely if responses so far and in the past are anything to go by.

The one effective response to such attacks would be to change foreign policy, which has helped to create precisely the terrorism that it now abhors. ISIS has grown in Iraq and Syria as a consequence of the failed wars there. The instability created in Iraq as a result of western intervention, the backing of a sectarian and oppressive government by the occupiers, and the current air strikes which are helping to win support for ISIS, have all contributed to the strengthening of this organisation. ISIS has received weapons and money from the Saudis and Qataris, has grabbed weapons provided by the west for other anti Assad groups, and has received material support from Turkey.

These are precisely the western allies -- Turkey also being a Nato member -- who sign up for the ‘war on terror’ but practice something different. The interventions they supported have greatly increased instability, for example in Libya where the British and French led bombing in 2011 continues to result in bitter civil war and conflict. The prediction made by, among others, former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller that the war on Iraq would lead to a much greater threat of terrorism has unfortunately proved to be the case.

In recent years France, under presidents Sarkozy and Hollande, has played an increasing role in these interventions. That the wars are all blamed on Muslims ignores the fact that the Libyan groups and ISIS are of course in large part fighting other Muslims. The refugees coming out of Syria, left on crewless boats to sink or swim in the Mediterranean, are also Muslims.

The consequences of the wars, with hundreds of thousands dead and many more refugees, have incensed people around the world. The large marjorities in western countries who have opposed these interventions have been ignored by their warmongering governments.

Muslims have also faced a growing level of racism and prejudice, see in the rise of far right parties, the restrictions on Muslim dress, the infringements of civil liberties, and the branding of all Muslims as somehow extremists or proto terrorists.

In France, there is a very strong far right party in the shape of the Front National, and the country has legislated some of the worst restrictions on Muslims -- for example over wearing the hijab. In Germany, the anti Islamic Pergida demonstrations have linked Muslims to crime. Levels of racism in Britain have grown, focussed both on immigrants and on Muslims.

The latest attack will lead to a greater backlash and greater levels of Islamophobia. But it is not Muslims who are the problem but the foreign policies that have helped create terrorism. That is what needs to change.

Dr.Abdul Wahid

In the aftermath of the events in Paris, with perpetrators still on the run, the West’s press and politicians have set a narrative across the world – that the journalists at Charlie Hebdo were killed as part of a war on free speech and as such they died as martyrs.

We could go around in circles with arguments and counter arguments. ‘Had there been no provocation there would have been no backlash’ versus ‘violence is never justified when insulted’.

One thing is for sure, in my view. Had any government in the Muslim world taken a robust stand on the on-going insults to the Prophet – peace be upon him – threatening diplomatic action or to cut trade relations over the insulting depictions – I do not believe individuals would feel the frustration to retaliate. This is one of the reasons why calls for the restoration of a legitimate Islamic polity in the Muslim world continue to resonate so strongly amongst Muslims globally – to return stability and independence to the region.

But those who blame Islam for these killings say that like all religions it needs critiquing.

In that case, let me offer a critique of the modern secular ‘religion’ of liberalism – but with less crudeness and fewer insults than normally accompanies many ‘critiques’ of Islam.

France’s claim that free expression is a ‘fundamental principle’ of the Republic is a myth. For in France free expression is for some but not for others. Women are fined for wearing niqab – or banned from education for wearing hijab. Even at Charlie Hebdo, upheld as a bastion of free speech, this ‘fundamental principle’ was set aside to appease domestic political sensitivities when they sacked their own cartoonist Maurice Sinet for refusing to apologise for his biting item about Nicholas Sarkozy’s son, which appeared to denigrate him for marrying Jewish heiresses for money.

Similarly, when the French Prime Minister previously stated that the cartoons published by the magazine in 2011 were “expressed within the confines of the law and under the control of the courts”, he ought to have been reminded that the French senate passed a bill around the same time outlawing the denial of any genocide recognised by French law – restricting expression under the law and through the courts for political reasons.

”Free speech” is never absolutely “free”. No society has ever said there is an absolute right to say what you want. Laws outlawing speech are all around us. The British government is in the process of introducing legislation that will criminalise everyone from toddlers to parents for saying things that aren’t “British”. It has already criminalised people for insulting British troops. Germany criminalises holocaust denial, despite it remaining legal elsewhere. There are many examples across Europe – and usually applied selectively.

Every society has restricted speech according to their belief and value system. In secular Western society religion is largely unvalued so blasphemy is permitted. Whereas in many other parts of the world, including the Islamic world, religion is a central value and so blasphemy becomes a redline issue, including insulting any of the Prophets of God, starting from the Prophet Adam, to Prophets Moses and Jesus to the Prophet Mohammad (salallahu alaihi wasallam – and Peace be on all of them).

The existence of redlines in different societies should not imply the closure of debate. Certainly not in the case of Islam, which has a centuries-old Islamic tradition to engage in debate, tolerate criticism and hear the critiques of others. But criticism and debate is different to deliberately targeting the insult to others.

The cost to societal harmony from the ‘freedom to insult’ is rarely discussed. This freedom to mock and deride, born out of Europe’s particular dilemma of Church authority, opened the door to the growing disrespect and anti-social behaviour in society – where rudeness is celebrated as a sign of assertiveness, courtesy undervalued as weakness, and all too many people do not respect each other or the law.

Where such “freedoms” were once used to account those in power and prevent the excesses of the state, they are now directed at a community that holds no such status. The freedom to insult the sacred symbols of Islam has become a tool to bully and persecute a minority community – with a rise in the far right and anti-Muslim sentiment.

In this context an ultimatum has been served to Muslims – that it is not enough to say that the capital punishment for insulting the Prophet of Islam should be done after due judicial process by an Islamic authority – and not by ‘lone rangers’. That it is not enough to say that Muslim in a non-Muslim country under a covenant should not be a vigilante, killing people in broad daylight, some of whom had nothing to do with insulting the Prophet.

Rather, what is expected of a Muslim in Europe today is that you bow down before the god of free speech until you accept that every Prophet can be insulted – and you learn to like it or laugh it off!

That is an unacceptable expectation by those who attack Islam. Muslims living in the West have only one option when faced with insults against their beloved Prophet – and that is to speak out. Those who work to remove even that option will fail. They will find we continue to speak out loudly– despite the mockery and hatred.

Those who say we must all be allowed to insult each other freely should realise the resulting society is one where people start to hate each other, even when they tolerate each other. By contrast a society that considers deliberate insult and unnecessary provocation of others something to be avoided, is one where people will live harmoniously despite their varied differences.

The current pattern of state policies, community alienation, provocation and retaliation only fuels fear, intimidation and mistrust – for Muslim and non-Muslim alike. What is needed is more mature debate and intellectual discussion rather than insults, lies and false narratives. And despite the ultimatums put to us, Muslim remain ready for this.

Charlie Hebdo is cashing in on the blood of its slain journalists and cartoonists. And it continues to be as provocative as before realizing that insulting the Prophet (pbuh) sells well because most people have been turned into Islamophobes.

Within hours of hitting newstands across France on Wednesday, the pro-Zionist Islamophobic French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was sold out, all 700,000 copies of the first run of three million copies. This will be increased to five million copies.

The Islamophobic magazine plans to publish English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish versions as well.

Its regular run is a mere 60,000. Great way to cash in on the blood of slain journalists and cartoonists!

And to continue the provocations, it again published a cartoon of the Prophet (pbuh) although this one was not as offensive as its previous cartoons.

The latest cartoon featured the Prophet (pbuh) with a tear in his eye, holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign under the headline “All is forgiven”.

Last Sunday a million people marched in Paris in “support” of “freedom of expression” but such freedom is only available to those that want to assault Islam and its revered personalities.

The line-up of war criminals leading the march—Benjamin Netanyahu, David Cameron and Francois Holllande etc—was a clear indication that the march had nothing to do with “freedom of expression” per se. It was to assert Western cultural imperialism and colonialism on other societies.

Amid the marchers were also a number of Middle Eastern potentates such as King Abdullah II who has clamped down on a number of websites in his country. Where is the freedom of expression there?

When Tom Willcox of the BBC reporting live from the march asked an Israeli woman about Jews killing Palestinians, there was extremely strong reaction against his question and calls for his resignation!

Willcox was forced to apologize for daring to ask a question at a rally for “freedom of expression”!

Let us repeat this: the march was for “freedom of expression” because it is supposed to be a cherished Western “value”. Let us accept it at face value.

What was so offensive about Willcox’s question that there were calls for his resignation? He merely asked a question about the Jewish oppression of Palestinians.

The argument used against Willcox was that he lampooned all Jews with the murderous Zionists.

Good point. Isn’t this what the West is doing against Muslims all the time? Why are demands being made of Muslims everywhere to condemn the Paris murderers otherwise they would be considered accomplices in their crime?

Even if we ignore the give away signs about the identity of the perpetrators—they were wearing masks to hide their identity but one of them left his ID card in the getaway car!—the claim to uphold “freedom of expression” is completely false.

When comedian Dieudonne Mbala Mbala wrote on his Facebook “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”, the French police immediately arrested him.

No “freedom of expression” there, right? Mbala is black and he dared point to the contradiction in Western attitudes.

Amedy Coulibaly was involved in kidnapping people at the Jewish shop. He was shot dead together with some of the hostages.

Mbala was mixing the official mantra “Je Suis Charlie” with the slain supermarket gunman.

Charlie Hebdo can insult the Prophet (pbuh) but a comedian cannot even link ‘Charlie’ with the kidnapper!

The French Justice Ministry has opened more than 50 cases against people accused of “condoning terrorism”. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on January 13 that the country was now engaged in a “war on terrorism”.

In a virtual give-away, he said France would strengthen its anti-terrorism laws.

Would strengthened anti-terrorism laws have prevented the Paris attack? The alleged (now dead) gunmen were known to French intelligence. They had been questioned earlier.

The two were also on the US’ no fly watch list. How did they manage to go to Syria to join the terrorists there and then return to France?

And what role did French intelligence as well as the intelligence agencies of a number of other Western countries played—and continue to do so even today—in recruiting terrorists to fight in Syria?

The US, France, Britain, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and a host of other countries are complicit in creating these terrorists and must accept responsibility for their murderous attacks.

We must also return to the question of the perpetrators’ identity. Can one really believe that people on a suicide mission with their faces covered with masks would take there ID cards and then conveniently leave them behind in the car?

This is of the same order as Mohamed Atta’s passport recovered from the World Trade Centre rubble in September 2001.

This claim was made by New York Police Chief Norm Kelly on CNN.

Let us consider this is slow motion. The world was told that the heat from the fire that “engulfed” the building was so intense when the plane slammed into it that it melted the steel columns causing the building to collapse.

If so, how could the paper passport survive? And Atta on a suicide mission took his passport with him?

We were even told two days after 911 by Dan Rather of CBS, no less, that an “Arabic” flying manual was recovered from Mohamed Atta’s car at Logan airport parking lot.

Are there flying manuals in Arabic? Further, what good would a flying manual be to a would-be hijacker if he leaves it in his car!

Let us return to the Paris attackers. If they were so competent that they could carry out a professional operation on an office in the heart of Paris with their faces covered, how could they leave behind an ID card?

What would someone’s ID card be doing on a car seat?

Western regimes need to come clean and confess that they are the real accomplices in these criminal activities with the express aim of clamping down hard on people’s freedoms because an increasing number of citizens are waking up to the crimes and theft of people’s resources they are involved in.


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