Tuesday 13 January 2015

On the Charlie Hebdo Muhammad Cover

Last week's terror attacks could, and should be read as an Islamist appropriation of the anarchist tradition of the propaganda of the deed. 

Our hate-filled zealots reasoned that committing a murderous spectacle would short circuit the radicalisation process and speed up recruitment to their demented religious politics. It was an action designed to tear the secularist veil off French society and show it up as an explicitly racist, anti-Islamic entity that will never accept the five million Muslims living in its midst. The consequences, the attacks on French Muslims since, the new terror law calls, and the taxpayer-funded three million copy run of Charlie Hebdo, festooned with an image of Muhammad (all pre-empted here) were exactly what the gunmen wanted. There will be some Muslims, probably young, probably already alienated from broader society, for whom this is grist to the radicalisation mill. 

Official France this last week has shouted its defiance at the bullet-ridded corpses of dead terrorists, it has bellowed that they cannot win. The response on this awful occasion suggests otherwise.


Speedy said...

That's an interesting perspective, if a little ungenerous.

Throughout history religious and immigrant minorities have been routinely massacred and expelled - from Christians in Rome, to Jews and Muslims in Christianity, Christians and Jews under Muslim rule.

Communal violence is still common in India. As recently as 2002 790 Muslims were massacred in Gujarat.


So given the scale of religiously inspired violence, the response of the West (if we discount Iraq and Afghanistan) has been remarkably restrained.

I think you reflect your own "narcissistic" Western preoccupations - this is more about AQ in competition with ISIS.

You also make a category error - this is not a "conflict" that can be "won".

Every single historical and contemporary example of societies with sizeable Muslim minorities or mixed populations (and there are not many, if you discount Western societies where Muslim settlement is in its earliest stages) suggests an uneasy accommodation will be made - ie, Islam will change that society, not the other way around. Parallel laws, customs and societies will develop (as they are) and accommodations will be made. Get this - we now also inhabit a "global society" which transcends international borders. In some senses, your Parisian boulevard may as well be in Aleppo.

For universalists, this may create cognitive dissonance, as it does, as it does...

BCFG said...

We should add into the mix that ethnic cleansing and massacres have also been the preserve of atheists and secularists. Often religious or other such factors are the superficial appearance for some more fundamental economic issues - but not always!

This is where I take issue with this article, yes religion played its part, but other factors, probably more important played a part too - secular Frances total intolerance toward Muslims, inner city realities of being a Muslim, lumpen existence to put it in Marxist terms. i am surprised a sociologist focuses so much on religion on pay little attention to the social backgrounds of these individuals.