The attack on Charlie Hebdo is a declaration of war

The attack on Charlie Hebdo is a declaration of war

By Claude Salhani- Trend:

The attack on the offices and staff of a French satirical paper by three men shouting out the name of God in Arabic is nothing less than a declaration of war by hordes of heathen barbarians against the civilized world. They would want us to think that they are acting in the name of God. They shouted the words "Allahu Akbar," God is great, every time they murdered one of their victims. Then, before getting into a car they were reported to have shouted, "the prophet is avenged."

But do not be fooled, they are as distanced from Islam as can possibly be. There is a stark reality in the saying that truth is the first casualty of war. Indeed it is.

The gunmen may have been fooled into believing they were acting in the name of God, by slaughtering 10 members of the paper's staff and two policemen, one of who was Muslim, but let us not fall into the same trap. The aim of the killings at Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with avenging the prophet or seeking revenge for having poked fun at the prophet. Those who ordered the attack very possibly could care less about what a French satirical weekly rag has to say. Indeed, their aims are far more ambitious and devious.

What those responsible for the Paris attack hoped to accomplish was to trigger a vast knee-jerk reaction from the French authorities and public that would trigger a huge wave of ant-Muslim sentiment which in turn would "justify" in the eyes of these extremists, greater acts of terror.

What we saw on Wednesday happen in the French capital is only the beginning of what may well be the fallout effect of returning jihadis from the war in Syria. Eyewitnesses of the Paris massacre reported that two of the three gunmen spoke perfect French, an indication that they were not foreigners. The video footage that caught the gunmen in action reveals that they clearly had some sort of military training.

When three individuals walk nonchalantly in the streets of Paris in broad daylight killing innocent French citizens, something is terribly wrong. Something is also terribly wrong when so-called Muslims believe they are right in murdering innocent people in the name of Allah. In reality every time such criminals utter the name of the Almighty, they blaspheme. No God would ever condone such barbarism, regardless of what the offending publication said or printed. Disagreeing with a point of view, no matter how critical does not grant one a license to commit murder.

Charlie Hebdo is a satirical publication. Since its inception during the hey days of the great student uprising in France in May 1968, the editors of Charlie Hebdo have been on the forefront of making light of any and all situations. Nothing and no one was ever spared or too sacred.

France tonight faces a dilemma. The government of President Francois Hollande needs to act decisively. And that means more than rushing to the scene of the crime for a photo-op, as he did earlier today. The policy of appeasement shown towards terrorists from all over the troubled world - Palestinians in the 1970s, Lebanese in the 1980s, Algerians in the 1990s - needs to be seriously reexamined and changed.

Successive French governments from the left and the right have been lenient towards terror groups, believing that France would be spared from terror attacks. That has been wishful thinking. French paratroopers were slaughtered in Beirut only moments after the U.S. Marine barracks was blown up. France lost 58 men in that explosion. In Lebanon more than a dozen French citizens, school teachers and journalists were abducted and held, some for several years and some died in captivity. And neither was the country's diplomats spared. The Quai d'Orsay lost several ambassadors to terrorism. And neither were the streets of its cities spared the horrors of car bombs.

There are two levels of culprits in the Paris attack; those who planned the operation and those who pulled the trigger, and both should be made to pay. French security forces acted fast and within 12 hours of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices French anti-terrorist units had managed to arrest two of the three perpetrators of the attack and killed the third.

And those who planned the attack, or ordered it, should be made to pay and to realize that there are not enough bullets in the world to silence the press in a free society. And finally the terrorist who carried out this ignoble act should realize that they are living a double illusion. First is their belief that they can succeed in shutting up voices of freedom through terror and second that they represent Islam. Are wrong on both counts. They cannot and they do not.

Claude Salhani is senior editor with Trend Agency and a political analyst specializing in terrorism and politicized Islam. And for many years was a faithful reader of Charlie Hebdo.

You can follow Claude on Twitter @Claudesalhani

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