January 10, 2015
The recent deadly attack on the French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo is the most despicable act infringing upon the freedom of speech, expression, and press. Such an act of terrorism cannot be justified by the use of religious or political arguments. Violent attacks on the liberty of the press shake the very foundations of democracy.
Islamic society also condemns the brutal act
The three suspects of the act of terrorism reportedly shouted out “God is great” and “retaliation by the Prophet” in Arabic during their attack. Some media reported that one of the three had possibly learned marksmanship and bomb-making skills from an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization.
The weekly paper, featuring striking caricatures, has many times satirized the Prophet Muhammad. The company’s head office building was burned down in an arson attack in 2011 after it published an extra which was edited by “Muhammad” and issued under the name of “Sharia (the Islamic Law) Hebdo”.
The press in Europe, including Charlie Hebdo, has often published caricatures defaming Muhammad, and Muslims have criticized them as unnecessarily provocative and as an act of sacrilege against Islam.
Meanwhile, most Muslims in France denounced this terrorist attack as a barbarous act which has nothing to do with their own beliefs.
France has about five million Muslims, making up 8% of its national population. Amid the prolonged economic slump, a far-right political party advocating exclusionism jumped into first place in the country in the 2014 European Parliament election. In Germany, an anti-Islamic group called “PEGIDA” has staged demonstrations every Monday since October last year, with the number of participants increasing each time.
As more than 20 million Muslims reportedly living in Europe have now become permanent members of European society, peaceful co-existence is essential. The need now is to encourage trust and mutual respect for different cultures, religions, and values, and not to allow acts of intolerance.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 2001, the first year of the 21st century, as the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. But in October that year, the U.S. Bush administration sparked off the Afghan War and invaded Iraq in March 2003. These military actions, which were carried out under the guise of democratization, have brought about prolonged wars and increased chaos, fueled hatred against Western countries, and created hotbeds of terrorism in these regions.
Work to eliminate hotbeds of terrorism
In 2006, the UNGA unanimously adopted its first resolution regarding the global counter-terrorism strategy. The resolution reiterates “its strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security” and reaffirms that acts of terrorism are “activities aimed at the destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy”.
The recent attack in France should be condemned by all. In order to prevent a recurrence of such an act, what is needed is to make serious efforts to eliminate the creation of hotbeds of terrorism.