Charlie Hebdo massacre. The price of Western cowardice?
The slaughter of French journalists at Charlie Hebdo by Islamist fanatics should shock everyone but surprise no-one. Things have been heading this way for years. The Islamists have got the message that our leaders are weak and that their commitment to free speech is meaningless piffle. UPDATE: See below as the dissemblers enter the fray
It is already being described in France as the worst massacre of journalists in the country since the Nazi occupation in WWII. The death toll at the time of writing stands at 12, including some of the most famous journalists in the country.
Francois Hollande, President of France, has expressed his shock and outrage. Prime Minister Cameron said that we "stand squarely for free speech". In fact, everyone is saying they stand squarely for free speech.
But the evidence, not missed, you can be sure, by the Islamic terrorists who perpetrated the slaughter, shows that they just don't mean it.
Remember the cartoon jihad launched after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published some drawings of the Prophet Mohammed in September 2005? While most mainstream newspapers in Britain, Europe and America ran a mile rather than republish the cartoons in solidarity -- you won't be reading about that in the mainstream newspapers tomorrow -- the politicans were even worse.
When Charlie Hebdo itself showed unusual courage in reprinting the cartoons in February 2006, then French President Jacques Chirac described the move as a "provocation".
Angela Merkel, hedging her bets, made a lame and half-hearted defence of freedom of speech which she implied had to be balanced against the need to show respect to Muslims:
"We need to learn to show mutual respect for each others' views and feelings as well as to develop our shared values."
Our very own Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary at the time, denounced newspapers that had shown some genuine solidarity in the cause of free speech by saying:
"I believe the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful, and it has been wrong."
The editor of France Soir was fired by the magazine's Egyptian owners for reprinting the cartoons. Serve him right, many of our leaders seemed to say.
Which part of this message are we expecting the Islamists not to get? We do not yet know whether the killers were returnees from the jihad in Syria or not. In one sense that matters a lot, since, if that turns out to be the case, it may sharpen the debate across Europe and the United States about what to do with such people.
But in another sense it doesn't matter at all. So called "radicalised" Muslims do not need to go to Syria to believe they have a right to kill people in the name of their religion, as we have seen with many other terror attacks in recent years.
They believe they are attacking soft and weak targets in the West because all too often (just re-read those quotations above) we have shown that we have turned ourselves into soft and weak targets.
But let us wait to be proved wrong. Every mainstream newspaper in Europe will tomorrow republish all the relevant material from Charlie Hebdo, and our political leaders will applaud them for it. Who is holding their breath? [Anyone who did has now expired. Not one UK newspaper republished the cartoons. In the UK, Je suis Charlie was pure BS]]
UPDATE: In the most preposterous piece of writing of the day, Britain's Spectator said in an editorial that the massacre was "also an attack on Islam". Later, the Guardian followed suit with a piece by Ed Husain from the Council on Foreign Relations who said: "The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam and the very freedoms that allow 30 million Muslims to prosper in the west."
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