Why France? Why Charlie Hebdo? (A Muslim’s thoughts…)

Source: Open Salon

By Muhammad Zafrullah

JANUARY 10, 2015 10:08PM

Masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo offices during an editorial meeting on January 7, 2015. They killed the magazine’s editor and his police bodyguard and several others, injuring quite a few. The total number killed came to be twelve at the last count. As if to assert why they were doing it, they shouted Allah Akbar.

They escaped and fear took Paris in its grip for three days. One of the assailants was captured and two remained at large for a while and then two others joined them. As it stands the original two assailants and the third a male have died while the fourth, a female, is still at large. The tussle between Charlie Hebdo and militants is not new. Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed recently, apparently in revenge for publishing an offensive Caricature of Prophet Muhammad.

At the face of it, it looks like a jostling match between two extremes. The cartoonists and satirists poke, sometimes insensitive, fun at what they see presented as religion in general and Islam in particular and it irritates some Muslims and possibly folks from some other religions. As there is no way they can stop Charlie Hebdo magazine some of them resort to violence, directly or indirectly.

The particularly insensitive act on Charlie Hebdo part was publishing a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. I think there should be a uniform policy against publication of material that hurts religious feelings. Freedom of speech is all very well but with freedom should come responsible behavior or laws to ensure responsible behavior. At the same time firebombing and killing offending satirists is not the answer and is highly condemnable.

There may be an urge to “round up the usual suspects”, i.e. blame Islam, in response to this attack on the magazine, especially with the chants of Allah Akbar being heard at the site of attack. But let’s not jump to conclusions, for there may be other folks who are sensitive to poking fun at their religion and who can arrange reprisals. For instance Jews are often unhappy about anti-Semitic jokes.

Recently Jerusalem post ran an article on cartoons and stories that had anti-Semitic content: http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/Kids-cartoons-and-animals-Top-5-most-bizarre-anti-Semitic-videos-386796 So with Charlie Hebdo outreach there could be zealots of several religions that may want to get even with the magazine, at the cost of “infamous Muslims”.

In fact the efficiency of the perpetrators seems to show that a very effective training was afforded to those known hoodlums and I don’t see a Muslim country where they could get that or if it was those hoodlums that carried out the attack actually planned it. But as the names and backgrounds of those alleged assailants are Muslim it is hard to deny that Muslims did it.

Once I bring myself to agree that it was Muslims who killed those twelve people the pressing question to me seems to be why, why the ordinarily happy go lucky Europeans should become so hell bent on hurting the feelings of Muslims, so that they resort to firebombing and killing? To find an answer to this question we may need to go back in time and note that some of the European countries especially France and Britain ruled over some Muslim countries and had to allow their “subjects” entry and citizen status.

Next, after the Second World War the manpower shortages made it imperative that more folks from those countries be allowed in. Indeed to make coming to Britain and France attractive it was decided to make citizenship easy. Indeed other European countries needed foreigners for their menial jobs.

It took some years for the European manpower situation to stabilize but it was enough for the foreigners to have families and establish themselves. Of course the children of those lower class workers got education and training and started competing with the European younger generation. It went on smoothly until the saturation occurred.

When the saturation occurred there were instances of favoritism and racism. While this was going on there were problems in third world countries that resulted in mass influx of refugees who could take up menial jobs. That exacerbated the situation in many ways. But the worst came in the form of the establishment of the EEC which allowed those dark faces to spread all over Europe.

Muslims have this terrible habit that they build mosques wherever they go and don’t lose their identity. So they stuck out as a sore thumb wherever they went. It had taken the Europeans centuries in half taming the Jews and with Muslims they got the Jewish problem all over again, and they could not push this new Jewish problem into ghettos because the times had changed and they had given the earlier immigrants rights.

What worsened this new “Jewish problem” was the phenomenon of imported Imams and support staff for the mosques. These folks could not quite reconcile with the European ways and often spoke against them. They thought they could make Islam into a dominant force in the West by talking against their hosts. This got them into good books of their foreign followers but started creating bad blood. Also around that time some militant organizations started taking shape in and outside Muslim countries.

In this situation, it appears that some bright European minds decided to “sour the milk” so to speak by putting restrictions such as the Weil prohibition, as they had tried with the Jews and sort of turning a blind eye to the hate organizations. The germs for hate organizations did not have to be introduced; they were dormant from the Jewish experience.

The Jews were sort of elevated, in a way, because they had served well in the Second World War and had made a place for themselves in fields of higher learning. Of course old habits die hard; the Jews are feeling the pinch too. But their European roots and almost European faces, attire and manner do help, they are the tamed ones.

The Muslims on the other hand provided a clue to how to punish them for being a sore thumb in the European culture. It was their attachment to their religious icons, the Prophet of Islam, the mosque the Quran. There were attacks on all three, here and there. Jewish learning and knowledge of Arabic and Islamic history came in handy, but the Danes hit the jackpot with a cartoon of the Prophet of Islam and that gave Charlie Hebdo and magazines like it a new direction.

Now the question is: It’s going on all over Europe, why France? The answer is in the squalor and poverty a majority of the Arab population in France is living in. France has seen a number of riots in those slum-like areas too. These folks mostly come from former French colonies and are often regarded as subhuman and hence fail to get jobs even when they are qualified.

The fact is while British were a Godsend to their colonies, as builders, organizers and educators the French were the opposite. While they were there chaos reigned in their colonies, old buildings and old institutions were all the colonies had when they, reluctantly, left after a lot of cruel suppression of freedom movements.

So, when you are sick with poverty and on top of that you are insulted and your religion is insulted the tempers are sure to flare up and often old wound open. With Charlie Hebdo’s tactics of provoking anger and controversy, it is no wonder that some folks took it upon themselves to teach them a lesson and some global terror organizations helped.

I do not justify the actions of the terrorists I just point out what could have caused the flare up, hoping that the French Government would devise some policies to end the inequity and the hate and the poverty among its North African Muslim population.


Categories: Europe, France

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