Today France woke-up to a carnage that took place in the center of Paris at the Headquarters of the weekly magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. I grew up in Paris when Charlie Hebdo was already making anti-establishment, anti-God and anti-anything-and-everything statements on a weekly basis. Much of what they publish is often mix of satire and really bad taste, but freedom of the press shouldn’t be for the faint of heart and cannot be a one way street.
This being said, I am in shock and my prayers go out to the families of the 12 victims. France is in shock as well and remains on the highest alert for terrorism. There was absolutely no excuse for such a barbaric blood bath. As this is a developing story, some of the details could change fast.
Charlie Hebdo was started in 1969 and outside of a break from 1981 to 1992, is still being published weekly in 2015. They already had been attacked in 2011 when they published a cartoon of Mohammed and as a result got their facility firebombed. As the staff was having their regular editorial meeting today, the killers barged inside the conference room and after asking for names, started shooting the staff. Twelve people lost their lives today at the hands of what the authorities now believe were three men. Two brothers by the names of Saïd and Cherif Kouachi (Franco-Algerian), in their thirties, and another younger man, Amyd Mourad (nationality unknown). Amyd Mourad apparently decided to surrender to the police later in the night. Two of the twelve innocent victims were police officers killed in the line of duty. More people were wounded and several are still in critical condition.
As the story develops, we will undoubtedly learn much more, but even though French authorities were originally very reluctant to connect the crime to an Islamist terrorist act, there is no longer any doubt that it was an act of radical Islam against French citizens. Not to mention the fact that on the scene and as he went on his killing spree, one of the three terrorists declared: “We have now avenged the Prophet”. Speaking of course of Mohammed, and leaving little doubt as to the real motive of this mass murder. Additionally, it was later reported that all three men shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they went on with the carnage.
People will look at Islam from different vantage points from categorizing all Muslims as bloodthirsty barbaric terrorists to embracing all Muslim as peaceful practitioners of one of the three major world religions. I find myself somewhere in the middle and frankly, regardless of where you stand, we can all learn a lesson from such a tragedy.
This is not the first wake-up call that France has received but it would appear that tolerance, multiculturalism and political correctness keep pushing the snooze button over and over again. Today, France was tested regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Will the country that championed satirical literature – taking it back all the way to the days of Marie-Antoinette – flex under pressure from the extremists? Hard to say quite yet, but if France doesn’t take a stand, today will be remembered as much more than the “Charlie Hebdo Massacre”, it will be remembered as the day that freedom died.
There were in excess of 100,000 people rallying all over France within hours, many brandishing signs with the motto:”Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie” in a sign of solidarity. This was a very spontaneous reaction from the French who apparently have decided not to cave in. I applaud that move.
The French people and the French press might have spoken but the government must take this matter beyond the propagating of the new hashtag #jesuischarlie or #Iamcharlie. As a matter of fact, I agree wholeheartedly with Benjamin Netanyahu who in the short message of support he sent France, reiterated that this was an international problem, not just a French one.
This should serve as a wake-up call to the international community. Islamists are getting bolder and bloodier by the day. We have seen a lot of these kind of acts against the Jewish people lately, especially in France. The Islamists hate Israel and the Jews and will continue to go after them with rage. The way that the Jews have been attacked, and even killed recently should have been an early sign of what was coming. Israel is the “little Satan”, France and the rest of the West are “The Great Satan”.
The world must understand that what happened in Paris today wasn’t an act of anti-Semitism it was an act of evil and barbarism that, if left unpunished, will only invite many more…much bloodier acts! Yet for years now the Jewish community has been the greatest recipient of anti-Semitism and the world has for the most part looked the other way, not reading or possibly not willing to read the writing on the wall.
I am reminded of this profound statement that Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby made in 2004:
What the world should already know but so often forgets is that Jews are the canary in the coal mine of civilization. Anti-Semitism is like cancer; unchecked, it can metastasize and sicken the entire body. When civilized nations fail to rise up against the Jew-haters in their midst, it is often just a matter of time before the Jew-haters in their midst rise up against them.
If today wasn’t a wake-up call, I have lost all hope for France!