Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo has already inspired a backlash against France’s Muslim community, with several incidents targeting mosques, businesses, and even individuals:
Three grenades hit a mosque in Le Mans, in the early hours of Thursday while in Aude, southern France, two gunshots were fired at an empty prayer room. A Muslim family in their car in Vaucluse came briefly under fire but escaped unharmed, and a mosque in Poitiers was daubed with graffitti saying “Death to Arabs”. In Villefranche-sur-Saône, an explosion blew out the windows of a kebab shop next door to the town mosque. …
Nourredine, a taxi driver, said the cold-blooded attack on Wednesday at Charlie Hebdo had left him very saddened and angry. It had reminded him of his home country, Algeria, in the 60s and 70s, he said, where “journalists were often the first to be targeted” by extremists. “But you know, we will become victims of this atrocity,” he said. “There is real stigmatisation in France. I love this country, really I do, but this stigmatisation, this amalgamation, this tarring all Muslims with the same brush – all it does is feed the extremists. It helps the Front National, the people who hate and fear Islam.”
This tweet says it better than anything else:
H.A. Hellyer is dismayed that French Muslims are being called upon to condemn an act that, in the long run, stands to hurt them as much as anyone else:
While the attackers may claim to have killed in the name of the Prophet’s honor, they killed someone with the Prophet’s name in the process: a French policeman called Ahmed Merabet.
As a Frenchman, he was targeted by extremists; as a Muslim, his community is targeted by extremists worldwide; and as a French Muslim, his local community stands at risk of an anti-Muslim backlash. Muslim terrorists kill far more Muslims than non-Muslims, and far more Muslims than non-Muslims are fighting these extremists. The day of the Charlie Hebdo attack, several dozen Muslims were killed by radical extremists in Yemen. Many others die every day in Iraq and Syria. …
The disgraceful attacks on Charlie Hebdo may have further consequences, such as entrenching the false notion that Muslims and non-Muslims simply cannot coexist, or that civil liberties need to be rethought, with yet more powers given to the state, diminishing the commitment to human rights. That is merely giving the attackers a further victory, rather than honoring the loss of life that took place.
Merabet is being held up as a hero on Twitter with the hashtag #JeSuisAhmed:
“The story of Merabet’s confrontation with the Paris terrorists,” Jim Edwards writes, ” is turning out to be one of the most poignant in the whole affair”:
And it’s proof, if further proof were needed, that Muslims are much more frequently the victims of Islamic terrorism than Westerners are. According to the Global Terrorism Index, 80% of all the deaths from terrorism in 2013 were in Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Syria. Since 2000, only 5% of all deaths from terrorism have been in developed countries — although they have been among the deadliest. …
Merabet is the officer seen in the heartbreaking video of the shooters’ attack on the Charlie Hebdo office, as seen through a mobile phone from across the street. The worst part of the video — aside from the moment in which the gunmen finish him off with a shot to the head — is where Merabet, lying injured on the pavement, tries to raise his arms in surrender. He is clearly no threat to the gunmen. And they kill him anyway.
This is why, in John Cassidy’s opinion, the “clash of civilizations” narrative that some are trying to superimpose on this tragedy misses the point entirely:
But to interpret things in such black-and-white terms is to distort reality. Although Islam largely missed out on the Reformation and the Enlightenment, a point frequently made by its critics, it is far from a monolithic religion. And many ordinary Muslims, rather than being on the side of the jihadis, are taking up arms against them, and sometimes paying with their lives. In Iraq, the Iraqi, Kurdish, and Iranian soldiers battling ISIS are mostly Muslims. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the government forces fighting jihadis are also almost all Muslims.
On top of this, most of the victims of jihadi atrocities are Muslims. In Iraq last month, more than eleven hundred people were killed in acts of terrorism and violence, including nearly seven hundred civilians. It’s fair to assume that almost all of them belonged to the Islamic faith.