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Charlie Hebdo Slaughter: Tragic Lesson for Europe to Learn

  • Written by Olga CHETVERIKOVA-
  • Published in Opinion
The bloody events that took place in Paris on January 7 made once again remember the «Clash of Civilizations» used as the way to guide social and political process. In the West the idea to put the theory to practical use surfaced in 1990 with the publication of The Roots of Muslim Rage by Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian specializing in oriental studies.

Bernard Lewis painted Islam as a reactionary religion immune to changes and filled with hatred against the West and its values. According to him, a «surge of hatred» is rising from the Islamic world to reject the Western civilization based on Judaism and Christianity. 

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A great number of information warfare experts work hard to shape the image of enemy among Europeans. Charlie Hebdo, the Paris-based weekly satirical publication, has a special role to play in this campaign. Its main instrument is anti-religious provocation disguised as freedom of expression. 

Founded in 1970 by left-wing journalists as an outlet of «revolutionary criticism», it folded to be resurrected in 1992 when Philippe Val became its editor-in chief. He is a follower of Zionist Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher with Zionist leanings, who was actively involved in the events in Libya and, then, Ukraine. Since then Charlie Hebdo has been mocking the religious feelings of Muslims and Catholics. 

In 2006 Charlie Hebdo republished several cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad from Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper. The cartoons had led to widespread anger and violent protests across the Muslim world. Muslim organizations wanted to prevent the publication, but the satirical outlet had influential sponsors. 

Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb) became the chief editor in 2009. He continued the policy of inciting hatred and anti-French feelings among Muslims. The war in Libya was raging. Charb mocked those who suffered as a result of merciless and cynical attacks delivered by NATO. One of his followers has said that Charlie Hebdo became a classic war time media outlet with caricatures mocking the enemies. Charbonnier was candid enough to admit that the edition made its living by publishing a provocation every week. 

In 2011 Charlie Hebdo was attacked for the first time – it was gutted by a fire bomb to cause arson for having run cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Back then the staff put out a new issue with a cover drawing of a bearded, presumably Muslim man kissing a cartoonist. The caption was «Love: Stronger than hate». New caricatures appeared in 2012 and 2013. The publications were condemned by religious organizations and politicians. The editorial policy remained the same to provoke the January 7 night attack by gunmen leaving a dozen people dead, including the editor-in-chief and well-known cartoonists. One of the recent drawings by Charlie Hebdo's editorial director Stephane Charbonnier shows a bearded man with a shoulder gun making the same gesture. Its caption reads: «Still no attack in France?» followed by «Wait, we have until late January to present our wishes».

The cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo features another figure well-known to French readers: Michel Houellebecq. He was the one to depict Islam as «the most stupid religion» and «Islam is a dangerous religion». «Soumission» (Submission) is a novel set in France in the 2022, when, to counter the far right Le Pen, French voters elect a moderate Muslim president. Then the country quickly shifts into a Muslim-like state. The Sharia laws are introduced and Europeans submissively accept the reality. The book hit the shelves the same day – January 7. It had given rise to fierce debate when the angry Muslim organizations said Michel Houellebecq was responsible for inciting Islamophobia and racial hatred. 

The January 7 attack gave rise to immediate and charged reaction in the West. The French political forces were unanimous saying the act was a declaration of war to France and its democratic values, especially the freedom of expression. National unity was the best way to counter «terrorism and barbarity». The position received wide support from the Pope to UN Secretary General. The terrorist act was described as a barbarian crime. Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie) shirts and placards expressed the cry of defiance as a wave of coordinated public actions was replicated across the world. 

But nobody in the West has clearly defined the attitude towards the perverse perceptions of freedom of expression that engender irresponsibility threatening human lives and undermining civil peace. 

On January 7 the wave of protest against «barbarian Islamic fundamentalism» was staged the very same way the anti-Islam campaign was orchestrated in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist act in the United States.

Ramazan Osmanov is a Kurdish political scholar. For 15 years he has been studying the implementation of US Greater Middle East policy. According to him, «The Americans spook the world with the terrorist Islamic State and got formal pretext to justify their presence in Syria and Iraq. The caliphate is moving to the Caucasus and Europe to make the world face another Armageddon. At least some forces in the Middle East take up arms and resist but in Europe Islamists have scored a great success. Europeans are like rabbits, they have lost the ability to offer armed resistance. A dozen of seasoned Islamic State warriors are enough to capture a peaceful European city. Believe me! Besides, the Islamists have agents everywhere. Marseille and Brussels have already become Arab cities where police is afraid to intervene». 

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Few of European analysts offer honest and sober assessment of the situation after the Paris massacre. One of them is Tierry Meyssan, a French journalist and political activist, the founder and president of the think tank Réseau Voltaire. In his January 7 article he called the Charlie Hebdo attack «the French September 11». According to him, it was not revenge, but rather a provocation aimed at sparking a European civil war as «the Clash of Civilizations» process is taking shape. The perpetrators knew the action would lead to a split between 6 million of French Muslims and the French non-Muslim population. «We do not know who sponsored this professional operation against Charlie Hebdo, but we should not allow ourselves to be swept up. We should consider all assumptions and admit that at this stage, its most likely purpose is to divide us; and its sponsors are most likely in Washington», concludes Thierry Meyssan.