These words hail straight from the Paris march. The brutality of the terrorist assault on the Charlie Hebdo newsroom and the kosher supermarket that have made France and the entire West start must not be forgotten.
- Monday, 12 January 2015
There's no time left for hypocrisy or for announcements that don't result in targeted and shared action. The West and Islam are not two worlds apart and the Paris massacre must provide a new and concrete basisfor dialogue. After all, we are both, us and them, under the constant threat of terrorist attacks.
The first question I asked myself once I'd verified what had actually happened was: "Where did we go wrong?". A reasonable question, after years of trying to bridge the gaps that separate us from a world, that of Islam, that lives with us, beside us, and not against us. What did we do wrong?
I'm sure no blame can be pinned on Charlie Hebdo or their cartoons. The freedom of satire lies in the fact that it is not fettered by the shackles of race or regulations. It targets everyone, without distinction or inhibitions. And saying that Charlie Hebdo "was looking for trouble", as some commentators have claimed, is a way of throwing centuries of debate over the freedom issue into the trash can. My freedom stops where that of my neighbour begins. And Charlie Hebdo is a paper that fully respects the freedom of all. We are all, obviously enough, free not to buy it.
The blame can to some extent be pinned on us, and the barriers we have erected. A quick glance at Paris is all it takes. The Périphérique is an invisible wall that divides the city. Crossing it, to go to work or school, is as complicated as it is frustrating. We've created barriers that protect us from those 'different' from us, without realising that this form of repression cloaked in openness, in the long term, was bound to cause increasing damage. We are responsible for the barriers, owing to our inability to look beyond our noses out of fear. Our values will never be taken from us, as they are very much part of our culture, but we should not have the desire or need to impose them on others: what could be more barbarous. Instead, that's what we've been trying for years, and then, seeing as it wasn't working (luckily enough, I might add, seeing as multiculturalism is one of the main flywheels for social evolution), we opted for a quicker and more immediate solution: ghettoization.
This said, the Muslim world is by no means exempt from fault, and it shares a fair amount of responsibility with us. It's inability to come to terms with its most extremist fringes is unforgiveable, and is having disastrous consequences for millions of people who abide by the word of the Prophet. The representatives of the Islamic communities know it well and are fully aware that their past shortcomings risk feeding hatred that can only be detrimental to their cause. The repression and nationalism of movements such as the French Front National or the Italian Lega Nord represent the ultimate danger for moderate Islam.
The main terrorist groups are known, as are their annual revenue, their funders and their recruitment sites. So? Why have we not lifted a finger? Economic interests? Perhaps. Basic laziness? Possibly. Whatever the reason the outcome is that the entire world is over a barrel, bar no one. If three people have managed to put France in check, imagine what the foreign fighters still at large might do (even if we have them on file). The world of Islam can't forget the massacres performed by al-Qaeda, not just in the US, or Spain, or the United Kingdom, but also in Kenya, Somalia, Lebanon, Yemen, Indonesia, Egypt and Iraq. And it must also not forget the increasingly dangerous role played by the Islamic State. Fighting radicalization, for Islam, means avoiding other murders and further hatred.
What should be done then, now that the Paris march is just another entry on the tragedy calendar? If we want to make sure there's no repeat of the 7 January 2015 massacre, it would be advisable for world leaders to set up a world conference on terrorism, which must include all forms. Once seated at a table, they must devise specific intelligence methods, such as the sharing of a real time network on terrorist cells, or the creation of one or more global databases open to all and not run exclusively by the CIA or individual national secret services. The terrorist issue is not just a French, British or American concern, it also affects Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It's time to set aside political division and work together to ensure that terror doesn’t get the upper hand over our freedom.
Finally, a chapter that must not and cannot be forgotten. In the chaos of the social networks we have once again witnessed one of the most perverse human tendencies in action, the search for a scapegoat, along with conspiracy theories. And once again, the Jewish world is the first to be singled out. A dangerous and equally obscene tendency that surfaces on a regular basis, as if History had taught us nothing. Resentment and contempt are no more powerful than the values of brotherhood and unity that we all cherish, whatever the colour of our skin. We have inherited a free and safe world from our parents, but could end up handing our children a world filled with hatred and fear of anyone different. Can we change? Yes, but we have to get a move on.