Don’t fall for Hebdo attackers’ attempts to push religious war

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-13 20:48:02

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The massacre at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, which has been described as "the September 11 of Europe," left the world reeling, but the brutal attack was also a lesson for Europe that compressing the seedbeds for the growth of terrorism, which thrives on division and confrontation, should become the priority in countering terrorists.

We must have realized that it is those unsettled conflicts and problems in both history and current affairs that have made Europe a hot target of extremist attacks.

European countries used to have a large number of colonies. After their independence, substantial quantities of immigrants from those former colonies have gone to Europe. However, they still cannot assimilate into the mainstream of locals today.

Meanwhile, the rising popularity of far-right parties, which are famous for their anti-immigrant, particularly anti-Muslim policies, has mobilized fear and hostility against those non-European immigrants. As a result, they are further marginalized and consistently kept at the bottom of the society.

In addition, Crusades, during which the European countries tried to capture Jerusalem and expand their territories through a series of military missions, have cast a shadow over the relationship between Muslims and Christians.

These ingredients have created a recipe for disaster.

When Charlie Hebdo offended Islam by publishing controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, it became a flashpoint of all that disharmony, which was used by the jihadists to launch the attack.

Charlie Hebdo itself and its so-called "freedom of speech" also represent the contradictions within Europe. It is well acknowledged that there is no such thing as pure freedom of expression.

The terrorist organizations have also delivered radical speeches that have presented a threat and danger to the world, will you applaud such freedom?

Some Western countries are also enacting laws that limit freedom of expression, especially radicalized speech. There are words that may not be used, assertions that may not be made, and contexts that may provoke unnecessary conflicts. So if anyone claims that his or her own religious belief is superior to any other religions or ethnic cultures, then it is nothing but a extreme point-of-view that goes against freedom of expression, and poses a risk to the development of a diversified society.

The barbaric attack was linked to Islam this time, which was also the goal of the extremists, who wanted the hatred, the marches, the resentment and even war, to create an anti-Muslim backlash so that they can gain more support. However, the truth is that they are simply terrorists who happen to be Muslims, and they can in no way represent the whole of Islam.

They are the product of circumstances in which their poor position in reality and the scars of the history play a crucial role while their religion plays only a marginal part. Therefore, it would be absolutely wrong if we fall for it.

Undoubtedly, one should not hesitate in uniting to crack down on the rise of terrorism. But, at the same time, we should also understand that the problem is not simply terrorism, but jihadist influence over nihilistic young people.

Both France and Europe should think more over the way of defeating jihadism. If their policymakers continue to turn to the right, then the old scores won't be settled, and old wounds won't be healed. If they go for nothing but more violence, then it will only lead to further violence and the vicious cycle will continue as it always did.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Aixin based on an interview with Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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