On Charlie Hebdo – English version

(about) The same text as my last post, kindly translated by K (thank you!)

About the assault on Charlie Hebdo.

Why Charlie Hebdo?
Differences and similarities between Al Qaida and European anti-moslim parties
How to respond?

January 7, 2015.

A sad day today. I’m sad, because of the people killed in Paris, as well as the reaction of a lot of people, also of a lot of my friends.

There is a lot we don’t know for certain. But it is very probably that the perpretators of today’s assault on Charlie Hebdo can be found in the Al Qaeda/ISIS environment.
Yes, I know. Already the news has been going around the perpretators had been caught, then again, they had not, however the three killers have been identified, At least, that’s what is said. It still isn’t a fact.
Nu.nl and Le Point (Translator’s note: dutch and french short news sites) claim the killers were identified because they forgot their IDs in the car they had stolen.


That’s exactly what I’d do, when I’m about to commit an act of terror: plan everything to the smallest details, prepare for any occasion, put on military suits, kalashnikov ready to fire, and heeey, waitaminute, I almost forgot to take my ID. Oh, but let’s just leave those IDs in the car.
All three of them. Well, how stupid.
To be short, we don’t know anything for certain.

But anyway. To assume the killers do indeed come from Al Qaeda or ISIS isn’t completely illogical.
To say what happened is terrible is an understatement: people who react to a drawing with bullets.

The solidarity is in fact heart-warming. Demonstrations spontaneously take place everywhere, even in the Netherlands. Big words are spoken, by everyone who matters. And rightfully so, as we shouldn’t accept something like this happening.

What would make sense to me, is to put this assault in the right context.
The NOS news (translator’s note: dutch national television news service) immediately asked Mr. Wilders for his perspective (Translator’s note: if you don’t know who this is, google him, right-wing dutch politician who’s not exactly known for a lack of xenophobia). Ok, they didn’t ask just him, but let’s be honest, this is not the most efficient nor the most objective way to try to understand what happened or why.
Wilders of course responded as was to be expected: “That’s exactly what I have been telling you for so long! These people are just against freedom of speech!”
Well, this is probably very true for the killers.
It surely is very true for Mr. Wilders: after all, he publicly admits to wanting to ban the koran. Mr. Wilders is not in favor of general freedom of speech at all, Mr. Wilders is only interested in the freedom of speech of Mr. Wilders, and anyone who agrees with him.

So, which context would make sense of what happened?

It can’t be complete coincidence both Al Qaeda / ISIS as well as Wilders are not in favor of freedom of speech for anyone who thinks different.
Of course, Al Qaeda / ISIS and Wilders are not the same, far from that. Wilders does not place bombs, doesn’t use violence and is not a terrorist. That’s quite a difference. There are many more.

But there are quite a few similarities.
Both like to generalize.
Both blame one population segment for about anything which goes wrong.
Both are thinking in terms of scapegoats and the evil enemy
Both officially refer to religion, although this can easily been seen through, because also everyone who has the same faith as them is being targeted as soon as they have the heart to take a more critical stance.
Both pretend to be a new wind which will make everything different, while in fact they promote an ultra-conservative way of thinking.
Both use a tactic of fear, though the extent is of course very different. But still, even when the PVV (Translator’s note: Wilders’ polical party) does not throw bombs, if you are being threathened day and night by Wilders’ followers (for example, because of writing this sentence….) this surely has its effects, albeit not (yet?) the same effects as someone pointing a gun to your head.

In the end, it is all about power.
Indeed, that’s an assumption, however, if you analyze their words and deeds, and especially how those contradict each other, no other conclusion is possible. Their opinions only serve to gather more power or parliament seats, and are interchangable, or at least, are demonstrable being exchanged with their eyes shut.

If Al Qaeda and Wilders are fighting against something, it is each other.

Still, there is one huge thing they have in common.
Because, both, each of them within their own culture, belong to the extreme right. Of course, Al Qaeda and ISIS are a lot more extreme, because they are most extremely violent. However, their basic attitude is not that different.
Ask the left-wing, tending towards anarchism, Kurds of Kobane, who are being besieged for months by now by ISIS.

Western and islamitic extreme right do reinforce, and need each other. All of the secular extreme right of Europe, all of the christian extreme right in the US, all of the islamist extreme right, and all the israelian extreme right and all of the …
They need each other because they all live from the concept of the enemy. And the more extreme and evil the enemy, the more and faster their own following will grow.

Just imagine Wilders in a world where terrorism doesn’t exist? Where no one ever heard of the multicultural drama, and islam was never invented? No one would ever vote for him.
It is because of fear of the other he gets people to vote for him. And the bigger the fear, the more seats in parliament he obtains.

Stalinist tactics.

There exists an old and proven stalinist tactic Create an enemy, depict him as inhuman, provoke him into committing atrocities, say “I told you so” and your own following will grow.

In Italy, they went a step further, committed the atrocities themselves, and next simply pretended the enemy did it.
During his research on extreme right terrorism, the Italian judge Felice Casson stumbled across the Gladio-network, establised by secret services. In 1990, he forced prime minister Andreotti to make a statement. This secret network had been making ties with right-wing terrorists, Casson thus discovered. These terrorists, who had been giving access to the necessary equipment, would carry out bomb attacks, let them be credited to left-wing Italian groups, and would next be kept out of harm’s way during the investigation by the military intelligence service.
This way, they hoped to strengthen the right, by carrying out terrorist attacks, blaming the left, and at the same time propagating a pattern of enemy thinking while destabilizing society.

Al Qaeda and the ISIS make use of the same old stalinist tactic: create an enemy and provoke him. And they don’t even have to do it as complicated as the Italians back in the days: they honestly take credit for their own attacks.

In Iraq Al Qaeda carried out attacks on Shiites again and again, until they provoked a huge reaction. The shiitic government started to discriminate sunnis on a large scale. This was exactly what Al Qaeda hoped for. Shiitic army units started to behave like an occupying force in sunnite regions. Sunnis weren’t able to find a job, were imprisoned without a reason, were tortured, and so on.
Only then the following of Al Queda became large enough to evolve into the ISIS and actually take over territory.

Today’s attack can be viewed in the same light.

Now, the general tendency is to view Charlie Hebdo as a hero of democracy. But please, just google for Charlie Hebdo’s images. You’ll discover how the last few years an once critical and leftish magazin published less and less leftish and generally critically cartoons, and more and more became anti-religion and especially anti-muslim. Of course, humor is a matter of taste, but it is easy to see how most of the jokes and drawings are not of a high quality. And if you google a bit more, you’ll find some jokes, too racist to even be published in the party magazine of the PVV. .
However, the title “heroes of free speech” is partly justified. After an earlier attack with a molotov cocktail, they did know they were in danger, and were still willing to the take the risk. That takes courage. And now they have paid the highest price possible for it…

I’d like to state more than just “the magazin wasn’t that great, and not very democratic either”. I’d also like to state more than just “they were heroes”.
What I want to make clear is in any case, this magazin did not pose a threat to Al Qaeda, to ISIS, or who or whatever.

Why then, did this attack happen?

The answer can be found in the fact that Al Qaeda or ISIS are not doing that well at all in Europe. Yes, I know, the Dutch police have been arresting dozens of potential Syria-travellers, even took away their children, although in many cases those had to be handed back again, because in the end, there really wasn’t that much going on.
In fact, although there are some people which would like to fight against Assad (and let’s not forget these people are not all fundamentalists or terrorists, let’s not forget Assad is a mass-murdering dictator, and more groups are fighting him, not just the fundamentalist ones), the number of them surely does not amount to 10.000s

Actually, ISIS has a huge problem. Most young european muslims are halfway secularized, and even the religious ones amongst them are more interested in the X-Factor than in ISIS.

Probably, you had never head of the magazin Charlie Hebdo until today.
To ISIS. Charlie Hebdo is equally and absolutely not interesting.

What is interesting, is what happens when you commit a terrorist attack upon it. With a bit of luck (for ISIS) the whole of Europe will go into racist convulsions. If ISIS gets lucky, the discrimination of muslims, which is taking place already, will triple. If ISIS gets lucky, state control, ethnic registration, anti-immigration laws, the ethnically based so-called preventive body searches, outplacing of children, discrimination on the job market, higher sentences for muslims, and so on, etcetera, will become even more extreme As a result more and more young people will feel excluded from this society.

ISIS hopes the reaction to the attack will be so racist and so extreme, european muslims will flock to the ISIS en masse.

And that’s the main and only reason for the assault.

Ok. But. Now what?

Today’s picture is mixed. Luckily, there are enough politicians and enough real people who are immediately able to distinguish between “your average muslim” and “the terrorist”.

But also, all of a sudden I see friends of mine, who I have always viewed as antiracist, publish racist cartoons. As “a form of protest”.
I can understand the need to do something, I’d like to do something too, but how would racism help to diminish the influence of Al Qaeda or ISIS?
For example, I hear people say “islam and humor simply don’t go together”. Sorry, but can’t you see how racist a remark like that is? Do you have a clue how many islam standup-comedians exist, to just name something? I assume you do realize you’re talking shit, full of prejudices and generalisations, do you?

I have seen the huge demonstrations in Germany against islamisation last week. I have also seen how the Dutch news service – even before today’s assault – managed to pervert this into a disgusting item, which basically stated the Germans finally woke up and realized how right Fortuyn was, and in which as an afterthought was muttered, ok, the counter-protests were much bigger, but well, let’s not pay any attention to those, BECAUSE THOSE MUSLIMS.
I see how in the Netherlands, Germany and France, whenever the anti-muslim movement tends to grow, immediately anti-islam and anti-immigration laws follow, proposed by normal politicians who feel the extreme right panting in their neck, and therefore try to steal the thunder of the extreme right by taking them over on the right side. I see dutch media who readily fan the fear for muslim fundamentalists. I see the first stricter laws coming up….
The first mosks were fired upon the night following the attack on Charlie Hebdo

And all of that is exactly what ISIS and Al Qaeda want.
Don’t give it to them. Don’t hand the extreme right even a finger digit, no matter if they are islamist or atheist.

Muslims are not all the same. Saying islam does not have a sense of humor, is nonsense, it is only true some people have no sense of humor (including some muslims).

It is not true we need more control and more repression. This is exactly what the extreme right (beit the western or the islamist) wants.
The best reaction is to wringe the neck of the extreme right way of thinking, unmask the concept of the enemy, and try to make our society more open and friendly.

Please let’s do this, and let’s not give in to terror.”


Bas Thijs
Foto: Guillaume Vigier, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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