Paris terror attacks: We Muslims must hunt down these monsters who make a mockery of our religion

Twelve years ago, I converted to Islam to marry a Tunisian. It was a purely formal conversion. I remained fundamentally agnostic until 20 months ago, I experienced a spiritual revelation, started to believe in God and to practise my religion of adoption.

We must take the lead in fighting and hunting down extremists, not just beside, but ahead of, our Christian, and Jewish brothers and sisters.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year, I felt it was my duty as a concerned Muslim citizen to express my outrage at having my religion hijacked by mindless thugs.

With several French Muslim theologians and intellectuals, we launched the “Khlass le silence!” (“Enough with the silence!”) movement, which called on French Muslims to take the lead in the struggle against the monsters who make a sordid mockery of our religion.

Despite the emotion felt throughout France and the French Muslim community, our appeal fell largely on deaf ears.

Less than a month later I teamed up with Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic leader of Malaysia’s opposition; the Palestinian-Austrian theologian Adnan Ibrahim; and a number of other authoritative Muslim figures from all around the world.

In pictures: A night of carnage in France’s capital

Together, we argued that while our natural instinct as Muslims to distance ourselves from the jihadists, saying that the latter have “nothing to do with Islam”, was understandable, it was dubious intellectually and altogether irresponsible to keep our reaction at that.

The last serious attempt at launching a movement of Islamic reform, led by the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh at the turn of the 20th century, ended up in failure and gave way to the creation of the Muslim brotherhood.

To overcome the state of denial described above and the moral decadence that is affecting many of us, nothing less than a new movement of Islamic reform is needed.

Despite some welcome marks of support, our calls continued to go unheeded. Our initiative was attacked or ridiculed by many in the French Muslim community and we were soon branded apostates by Islamic State (my picture appeared along with death threats in their French language propaganda magazine Dar al Islam).

Not a single Muslim leader came to our defence in France when that happened, and barely a thousand of our fellow Muslims manifested their support for our initiative.

On this ignominious day, the time has come for me to repeat with a greater sense of urgency still what my cosignatories and I said earlier this year:

“My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, it is time to make our voices heard: we must rise up massively and tell the barbarians who ordered, executed or condoned the acts of mass murder just committed in Paris that from now on we will take the lead in fighting and hunting them down, not just beside, but ahead of, our Christian, Jewish, or agnostic brothers and sisters.

“We must do so because Muslims are the extremists’ first victims and because we have mustered the courage to take our responsibilities and launch a massive, global movement for Islamic reform.

“If we do not, we must accept that these monsters represent Islam (and us) in the face of the entire world. With obvious consequences in many an forthcoming European election. The choice is ours.”

Mosques release own cartoons in reaction to Muhammad-cartoons

The Organization of Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands is planning to release a Wilders-cartoon. This in a reaction to the leader of political party PVV, who is known for his harsh anti-Islam standpoints and who himself is planning to show the controversial Muhammad cartoons on television. Spokesperson Aissa Zanzen says that a normal dialogue with Wilders is impossible and the best way to react to his action is with some humour.

Foto: ANP
Foto: ANP

Islamophobia soars in France since Charlie Hebdo

A leading French anti-racism observatory warned of an unprecedented increase in Islamophobic attacks in France during the first three months of the year, rising by six-fold than in 2014.

 

“Never since the establishment of the Observatory in 2011 have Islamophobic acts known such an implosion of actions or threats, especially on social networks Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory said in a statement cited by Anadolu Agency on Thursday, April 16.

 

According to Zekri, Islamophobic actions soared by 500% compared to the same period in 2011.

 

He added that out of 222 anti-Muslims acts in the first quarter of 2015, the total number of documented attacks was 56, while 166 were identified as threats.

The observatory also noted that more than 222 separate acts of anti-Muslim behavior were recorded in the first month after the January attacks.The situation for French Muslims has been deteriorating recently, especially after Paris attacks killed 17 civilians. Following the attacks, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over 100 incidents have been reported to the police since the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9. The rise in attacks over the last two weeks represents an increase of 110% over the whole of January 2014, the organization said.

 

Moreover, a Muslim father was stabbed to death at his own home in southern France last January by a neighbor who claimed to be avenging Charlie Hebdo.

 

“This is simply racism and rejection of men and women who aspire to just be respected,” said Zekri while citing attacks against Muslim women and mosques in the European country.

 

“Does the motto of the Republic ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ make any sense? Unfortunately, the question (must be asked),” added Zekri.

 

Condemning the rise of the anti-Muslim attacks in France, Zekri argued that the latest terror attacks cannot be used as a pretext to justify Islamophobia.

“However, those horrific and terrifying crimes cannot justify, under any circumstances, the steep rise of hatred or revenge against Muslims in France,” stressed Zekri.

 

“They [Muslims of France] are not responsible or guilty of committing these terrorist acts that devastated the country.”

 

Zekri also criticized what has been viewed as resounding political silence on the issue.

“All this happens without any reaction from politicians, who, instead of denouncing, try to find excuses,” he stated.

 

A day after the Islamophobia report, France’s prime minister unveiled plans to pour €100 million (RM391 million) into efforts to fight racism.

 

“Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners, homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner,” Manuel Valls said in the Paris suburb city of Creteil, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

 

France is home to a Muslim minority of seven million, Europe’s largest. Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith, leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not associate their actions with Islam.

 

Later on, French Muslims called for criminalizing insulting religions amid increasing anger around the Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish new cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Book by Charlie Hebdo editor published posthumously

In a short book by Charlie Hebdo editor Charb – whose real name is Stéphane Charbonnier – expressed concern that the fight against racism is being replaced by a struggle against “Islamophobia,” which he argued defends Islam more than it does Muslims.

 

He also defended Charlie Hebdo, which stirred outrage in much of the Muslim world after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on numerous different occasions.

“One day, for a laugh, I will have to publish all the threats I received at Charlie Hebdo,” Charb wrote.

 

In the book, which is titled “Letter to the Islamophobia swindlers who play into the hands of racists,” Charb asked why Islamophobia, which technically means “fear of Islam,” is being used to denounce hatred of Muslims and wondered why “Muslimophobia” is not used instead, or simply “racism.”

 

He argued that “a lot of those who campaign against Islamophobia don’t actually do it to defend Muslims as individuals, but to defend Prophet Mohammed’s religion.”

 

He blamed the media for helping popularize the term, because “any scandal that contains the word ‘Islam’ in its title sells.”

 

“A terrorist is scary, but if you add that he’s an Islamist, everyone wets themselves,” he wrote.

 

Charb also questioned organized religion, and particularly some of its followers.

“To be afraid of Islam is without a doubt moronic, absurd and many other things as well, but it’s not an offense,” he wrote. “The problem isn’t the Qur’an, nor the Bible, [two] badly written, incoherent and soporific novels, but the believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible like one reads an instruction manual on how to assemble an Ikea shelf.”

 

He defended Charlie Hebdo‘s controversial depictions of the Prophet over the years, which have been criticized as Islamophobic.

 

“By what twisted logic is humor less compatible with Islam than with any other religion? … If we let it be understood that we can laugh at everything except certain aspects of Islam because Muslims are much more susceptible than the rest of the population, isn’t that discrimination?”

 

“It’s time to end this disgusting paternalism of the white, bourgeois, intellectual ‘left’ who seek to exist among the ‘unfortunate, under-educated poor,’” he wrote.

 

He also chillingly wrote about a list published by the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Inspire magazine in 2013, which identified 11 people wanted “dead or alive” for committing “crimes against Islam”.

 

“I find my name, badly spelled but accompanied by a photo where you can recognize my alarmed face” — a picture he said was taken when the newspaper’s offices were burnt down in 2011 shortly after a special edition was published under the banner “Charia Hebdo.”

“The skillful montage is titled ‘YES WE CAN’ and below you can read: ‘a bullet a day keeps the infidel away.’”

Tolerance index climbs following Charlie Hebdo and Hyperchacher attacks

The January 2015 attacks have without a doubt had an impact on racism in French society, according to a study conducted in March and released April 9 by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), but it is more positive. The “longitudinal tolerance index” developed in 2008 by Vincent Tiberj, PhD in political science. The indicator shows that since November 2014 tolerance for black people has increased 4 points, with Muslims and North Africans increasing 1.5 points– the margin of error being 1.6 points. As a result one “can only conclude that France has not experienced a large increase in anti-Muslim sentiment.”

The situation is paradoxical. Support for non-European foreigners’ right to vote increased 6 points from 2013 to 2014 and was shared by 43% of Frenchmen. The belief that immigration is a source of cultural enrichment increased 4 points and the rejection of the belief in race increased 8 points compared to 2009.

One aspect of the study evaluated “increasingly serious tension toward Muslims.” The belief that North Africans “form a separate group” decreased in 2014 (38%, 8 points less than in 2013), with a similar statistic for Asians (37%, down 4 points). Black people are perceived as more integrated (25% say they are not) as are homosexuals (18%). However 48% of Frenchmen believe that Muslims “form a separate group,” and 72% believe that “France must remain a Christian country.” Curiously, 1 in 2 Frenchmen believe that it is necessary to support the Muslim faith, but 93% are against women wearing the headscarf (up 5 points since 2010).

The situation remains tense: 86% of those surveyed believed racism is widespread (2 points more than in 2013), even if 43% of Frenchmen believe they “are not racist at all” (an increase for the first time since 2010). However 72% believe that there are too many immigrants. The most intolerant are older people, those from rural areas, the most right-wing voters, and the least educated.