Sharpening Contradictions

Juan Cole on Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination. …

Most of France will also remain committed to French values of the Rights of Man, which they invented. But an insular and hateful minority will take advantage of this deliberately polarizing atrocity to push their own agenda. Europe’s future depends on whether the Marine LePens are allowed to become mainstream. Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.

So far I’ve seen this atrocity bringing out the worse in people, from the predictable Islamophobia (No, that attention-seeking clown Anjem Choudary does not represent British Muslims, and I have to be suspicious of the agenda behind the sections of the media that keep giving this repellent man a soapbox) to the authoritarian security-state control freaks demanding even more restrictions on civil liberties. These things must be resisted not just because they are bad things in themselves, but because they’re playing right into the terrorists’ hands.

He said very similar things in the aftermath of 9/11. He was not listened to, and the US & UK’s ill-conceived military adventures in the Middle East and their disastrous fallout meant 9/11 succeeded beyond Osama Bin Laden’s wildest dreams. If the French terrorists are indeed connected with Islamic State, then what happened in France was a direct consequence of ignoring Juan Cole back in 2001.

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