10 January 2015

Have the long-feared lone wolf attacks, possibly threatened by al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, begun? The twin massacres in Paris suggest that the Mideast’s mayhem and mass killings are again spilling over into Europe.

Paris remains in chaos. Its Peripherique ring highway is still closed, producing traffic madness across the capitol. Some 60,000 troops and police saturated Paris. As I write, there are reports of a new attack in Montpelier, in southern France.

I visited the Paris office of the French satirical magazine, “Charlie Hebdo,” while on tour for my last book. It was located on a non-descript street of the non-chic 11th arrondisement, a popular venue for youthful Parisians.

“Charlie’s” brilliant cartoonists were rapier sharp and merciless. They went looking for controversy and notoriety –and found it. Previous death threats and a past fire-bomb attack culminated on Wednesday in a commando-style assault by two masked men with AK-47’s, crying out “Charlie is dead!” Indeed, eight or more of its staff, a visitor, and two police guards were killed and others wounded.

The Muslim world and its leaders were special targets for “Charlie.” The magazine had a modest circulation. Like a right-wing Danish newspaper in recent years, the left-leaning “Charlie” provoked outrage and fury across the Muslim world.

In Islam, it is strictly forbidden to depict the Prophet of Islam. Doing so is one of the most serious provocations against Islam and a certain way to infuriate even moderate Muslims – though in no way does doing so justify violence. But many Muslim don’t think this way.

These mocking western media portrayals of the prophet were seen by many Muslims as part of a growing attack on Islam by the western world that began with George Bush’s invasion of Iraq – the Pandora’s box that has indirectly led to many of these outrages.

Shortly after the “Charlie” outrage, a French policewoman was gunned down and a Kosher food store seized by another attacker. Four people there may have died when it was stormed by French elite special police, the Gendarmerie Mobile.

The two men who attacked “Charlie” were cornered on Friday in a printing plant northwest of Paris. They chose to go down with guns blazing. The horror shows in Paris was over.

France has particularly suffered from the growing tensions between the West and Islam because it has Europe’s largest Muslim population – some 6.5 million people of North African and Black African origin as well as Europe’s largest Jewish population.

Making matters worse, most of France’s Muslims are third class citizens marginalized by French society and discriminated against, living in poverty with no prospects for their futures. They have become an angry, dangerous, alienated sub-class seething with resentment and prone to criminality. The French-born men of Algerian origin men who killed “Charlie Hebdo” came from there. The food market attacker was of black African origin.

Until recently, Islam meant little or nothing to young French of Muslim origin. Islam was the antique faith of their grandparents’ Africa. But the destruction of Iraq, Syria and Libya by the western powers released fanaticism and anarchism from out of the burning Mideast, and fury against the western powers, notably the United States and France.

To put things in context, France has emerged as one of the most active interveners in the Muslim world, conducting military operations in Libya, Mali, Chad, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Critics accused France of a new era of Mideast and African colonialism.

As France increasingly wages small wars in the Muslim world, Islamophobia is surging in France, propelled by continued immigration and the rapid rise of the hard right National Front.

I interviewed its founder, former paratrooper Jean-Marie Le Pen, 16 years ago. He claimed, “immigration equals invasion.” Muslims, said Le Pen, had to be expelled before taking over France.

Today, the National Front is led by his softer-spoken heir, daughter Marine. Her party is benefitting from the collapse of the French left and its much derided leader, President Francois Hollande. The National Front may actually win the next elections in 2017.

The “Charlie” massacre is a boon for all anti-Islamist and neo-Nazi parties across Europe. Islamophobia, the hallmark of most rightwing parties, is our era’s version of 1930’s anti-Semitism.

When Muslims kill, the crime become a political cause celebre that we call by the nonsense term “terrorism.” When Christians, like Norway’s Anders Breivik, massacre 77 schoolchildren, it’s just a crime by a madman. Western politicians have cynically used Islamophobia to advanced rightwing political agendas and curtail freedoms.

There has been a spate of attacks in France during recent months by individual Muslims who were either demented or crazed by ISIS internet propaganda. They, and the Paris attackers, have inflicted untold damage on their fellow Muslims.

Ominously, the leader of ISIS has called for waves of “lone wolf” attacks against Europe in revenge for its military interventions in Iraq and Syria. French security officials are deeply concerned by this threat. This week’s Paris attacks could be an opening salvo.

“The “lone wolf” attackers will be our versions of US drone attacks,” in the words of one jihadi.

France remains in shock. Those lamenting freedom of press should not forget western attacks on al-Jazeera bureau in Baghdad and against Serb, Iraqi and Libyan TV.

Let us also recall the sage words about free speech by US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: freedom of speech is not absolute. It does not permit a person to yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater.”

But nothing justified this week’s savagery in Paris.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2015

This post is in: Europe, France, ISIS, Mideast, Terrorism

8 Responses to “MURDER IN PARIS”

  1. Some Canadian says:

    The shooting is just another opportunity for various parties to further their agenda. Surveillance states get to pass more anti-terror laws. Far-rights get another excuse to despise immigrants. Self-righteous jerks get to insult other people’s culture with freedom of speech as casus belli.

    I wonder how many real tears are shed for Charlie Hebdo that weren’t from a crocodile’s.

  2. “Immigration equals invasion.”? LePen should know, because that is how their colonies felt, when they were invaded by the French and just like all other European countries made de Natives of the different colonies feel. It seems, that the shoe hurts on the other foot.
    I wonder, if this incident is supposed to be the same for Europe as 9/11 was for the US. Every time I see a story about this incident, it is as if I see a hazy red flag flutter in the background. Are the Europeans now supposed to be made more malleable for sacrifice of freedoms, like the Patriot Act in the US did?
    We in Canada had a taste of it with the murder of the two soldiers in Ottawa and Quebec.
    For governments to act so irrational when something like this happens, while all along claiming to be prepared and in control of the situation, has to raise suspicion among the populace and create a certain fear. I am watching some videos by Oliver Stone about “the untold history of the United States” and when one cross-checks for verification, some common threads come to the fore, which to me are rather unsettling.
    And all along the conduct of the US government in its international policies and affairs remind me of Germany in the thirties.
    If you extrapolate the word Jew with Muslim and Germany with the United States, and then read about the last few pre-WW2 years, something very scary is going to stare at you.
    Somehow it seems, as if an unidentified hand is directing the political world and I don`t feel too good about the direction it seems to be going.
    I remember, how the anti Semitism in Europe was reigning free just before and during WW2, and it seems to me, that we are now making ourselves as guilty against the Muslims or even more so as we did then against the Jews, if we claim to have learned from history.
    And how can we act so indignant about this massacre in France, when in some European countries it is punishable with imprisonment, if one dares to even question the number of victims of the Holocaust? Why the double standard?

  3. Just an added note:
    The BBC just noted that France will deploy an additional 10,000 troops… the financial costs of these little incursions can be great…

  4. As I’ve noted numerous times before, “A happy, well fed Muslim is in no rush to go to Heaven!” The massacre, and I know of no other way to describe it, is a culmination of this frustration “(and only a single incident).
    There are several observations:
    The twin massacres have been depicted as two ‘standing’ pencils representing the twin towers of 9/11 in one editorial cartoon.
    Merkel, in Germany, is having some difficulty with the right wing wanting to ‘persecute’ Muslims and this will grow… in particular, after the attack in Paris, I suspect this will gain momentum as well as more active persecution in France. We are in for a ‘rocky’ ride. The daughter le Pen, or Le Pen’s party will gain followers as a result/consequence of this, and, it’s possible that she will jump on the ‘bandwagon’; her dad was pretty vocal. This will not improve matters in Europe, and elsewhere.
    France remains in shock, but this will quickly change into a more draconian effect on civil liberties and freedoms of speech. The Supreme Court’s observation about ‘fire and theatres’, is not prevented by making matches illegal, but, by educating people about the consequences of their actions. I think the education system has been ‘dumbed down’ over the last several decades. I don’t think it’s in the government’s best interest to have an educated and ‘thinking’ population. As proof, look at the current political systems we have. I think this is true of most Western countries.
    There is a distinct difference between persecuting the Jews in the 30’s and now… other than their stint at terrorism that led to the formation of the state of Israel, the Jews of the 30’s were not out killing innocent people… they were just an identifiable ‘target’ for the economic times of Europe at the time. My programmer buddy’s late mother was exposed to the depression in Germany, and she referred to cats in German, as ‘roof rabbits’.
    Western society is not geared up for this type of sustained attack, and judging from how successful the Paris massacre was, it’s a matter of time for the next one. We have a complex infrastructure that lends itself to ‘monkeywrenching’. We can make them more secure, but, not totally secure. The fanatics have ‘all the time in the world’… just waiting to meet their Maker, and they can be patient. Great harm can be caused with little effort and the costs of preventing it can be extreme, both financially and socially. As you implied, ‘it is the cheap man’s drone’.
    “When Muslims kill the crime becomes [sic] a political cause celebre”, pretty much sums it up. In this technical world, information is transmitted very quickly. Efforts by terrorists is quickly broadcast. Newspapers, being part of another financial empire, are driven to provide the greatest ‘bang for the buck’.
    The manner of attack, by relatively small groups, can inflict significant damage on a technological society. There is no easy manner to prevent this.
    The mayhem inflicted is not justifiable, and will further isolate Muslims within Western society, and will further create the fundamentalist activity, both by example and repression. I don’t have a clue about how to stop it, but, I can see that the approach used to date is only making matters much worse.
    Even our Canadian Prime Minister was asking the population to pray for the Canadian air force pilots undertaking bombing runs on ISIS on the New Year. This is not the Canada of my youth.
    Your last sentence, “…nothing justified this last week’s savagery…” pretty much sums it up. There is no justification for the loss of innocents, but, there is a bit of an understanding about why this has happened.

  5. This is only the beginning of things to come…sadly.Thousands and thousands more innocent people will lose their lives because of the actions of politicians.

    After reading this story about world outrage,another incident came to mind.After the Gulf War,when Saddam Hussein was forced out of Kuwait after defeat….the UN placed criminal and inhumane sanctions on Iraq.If my memory serves me correctly,some 400,000 infants and babies that were ill and needed medicines were denied these life saving items along with other life sustaining necessities and were allowed to die.These young and innocent human beings had absolutely nothing to do with what had just occurred in regards to the George Bush Sr. instigated war to punish Iraq.Then Secretary of state Madeline Albright was asked by the media why this was allowed to happen….and the answer she publicly gave was….”it was a price worth paying”.Yes that’s the best she could do.Murder people who had absolutely no role in any war….they were just infants growing up in a hate filled world.The Muslim world will never forget this among other atrocities committed against them by the West…the US,Britain…and yes France.There was no world outrage at this….like this past week.Why?

    Because of this,more Muslims and Mosques will be targeted.Another crime against humanity fueled by hate created by western propaganda against Islamic nations.When will this madness ever stop? I fear never.

  6. I looked at is as Of all the outrages committed against Muslims in the world these assholes chose to kill 17 people over an f—ing cartoon?
    Also of note 17 white people killed in France major major story around the world. 2000 black people killed in Nigeria rates “Oh by the way…”

    • You know very well Ben, that blacks have always been discriminated against and when they are Muslim on top of that, they are really behinde the eightball. I see this whole fracas as just another trick to get away with murder somewhere else literally. It is also the ideal opportunity to take away more freedoms and that is in my opinion the main reason.

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