Why it’s wrong to blame western policies for the Paris attacks

January 14, 2015


By Roy Abbas

I am posting this unedited version below. Original edited version is posted on Leftfootforward

It’s quite appalling to see how several people in Western media have responded after the Paris attacks. Some blamed the cartoonists for provoking Muslim faith and inciting religious hatred while others like Robert Fisk have blamed French occupation of Algeria (1830 – 1962) for Paris shootings. Fisk claimed that the disenfranchisement of the youth, economic deprivation, atrocities and legitimate grievances of Algerians has led to Paris events. Some on the far left like the inveterate anti American journalist Glen Greenwald started with Soviet style (whataboutism) and connected the Paris events with Israel while the annoying Assange, who is languishing in the Ecuador embassy, also tweeted some 5 year old telegraph report to obfuscate the Paris shooting issue.

It’s beyond absurd that Mr Fisk blamed French occupation of Algeria (1830 – 1962) for Paris shootings. This is the kind of apologism that facilitates radical Islam. This strategy only results in appeasement of puritanical radical Islamic ideology and only offers one solution that is “West is Evil”. If grievances and atrocities are considered to be the “reasons” behind these attacks then by this logic all Indians living in United Kingdom would be retaliating  to avenge the sufferings of their ancestors faced during the British Colonialism. Bangladeshis would carry out attacks against Pakistan since they once ruthlessly persecuted Bengalis, killed more than a million of them and raped 200,000 of their women. Jews would be retaliating against Austria, Germany, Hungary and Romania as these countries were among the main perpetrators of the Holocaust. North Vietnamese would have been attacking the United States for the disaster caused by the horrid Agent Orange and Japanese would have been retaliating against the colossal humanitarian tragedy caused by the “Fat Man”.

Since such ludicrous claims by Fisk do not make any sense, I believe that they are nothing short of plain bollocks. If Fisk were right, Vietnam and Japan would not be one of the most pro American countries in the world today (which they are).

However the most pathetic and dismal response that came from western press was from those who castigated Charlie Hebdo and blamed instead the cartoonists for provoking Muslims. If one follows this flawed narrative then all liberal Muslims struggling against radical Islam on a daily basis in their own Muslim majority countries should only have themselves to blame wherever they get brutally attacked by extremist clerics and their zealot followers. The Saudi writer and activist Raif Badawi who is currently being publicly flogged by repressive Saudia Arabia should be denounced for criticizing the rabid misogynist clerics of the Wahabbi sect. All Pakistani liberals fighting against the draconian blasphemy laws and terrorists should also be condemned for inciting the wrath of terrorists. This logic of the attack on the cartoonists because of the jokes aimed at Mohammed and Islam is similar to the example given by Ali A Rizvi of a raped woman being blamed for the crime due to her so called provocative dress. In both instances the victims i.e the cartoonists or the raped woman were never to blame. Rather, the fault lay with the transgressors.

Even a cursory examination of blasphemy killings in Pakistan can tell us that the real reasons why the cartoonists were attacked were not because of some Western foreign policy, Iraq War, Colonialism etc but because of an ideology that has always been fanatical and dogmatic in nature and that is responsible for the misery of thousands of people, particularly in Pakistan. This ideology has the power of igniting vigilante justice and provoking mobs into indulging in violence and vandalism. It’s the same ideology because of which Salman Rushdie went into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a book, and that burnt 37 people to death after a mob set ablaze a hotel building in Turkey. It’s the same ideology that killed prominent Pakistani politician Salman Taseer after he questioned the concept of the country’s brutal blasphemy laws.

According to this ideology, any person who doubts the origins of Islam, draw caricatures of Prophet Mohammad and satirize revered and venerated Islamic prophets especially Mohammad is liable to be punishable by death. The basis for this blasphemy belief is not the Quran but the Hadith that is the second main source of Islam. Many sects within Islam have varied views in relation to blasphemy issue but almost all sects believe in the prohibition on images of Muhammad. Apart from images, many sects of Islam also consider even questioning or doubting the origins of Muhammad as blasphemous. Here the example of British Historian Tom Holland is clear evidence on how the screening of his academic documentary on the origins of Islam was cancelled by Channel 4 after he and his family received death threats and over 1200 complaints were received by Ofcom and Channel 4 against Holland.

Some western leftists might label this ideology as the product of the CIA funded Jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s but that again is going to be the murder of history. Blasphemy and critical evaluation of Muhammad’s character has always been forbidden and a highly sensitive issue among Muslims in the history of Islam. The case of Ilm-ud-din in 1929 and many others gives us overwhelming evidence of how many people have been killed throughout Islamic history in the manner reminiscent of Paris shootings

Ilm-ud-din was a Muslim who got offended by a book published about Prophet Muhammad in British India. Soon he killed the publisher and was sentenced to death by the Indian Penal Code. He was considered a martyr, 200,000 people attended his funeral and subsequently he was praised by the ideological founder of Pakistan and highly revered poet known as Allama Iqbal. Even today in Pakistan, blasphemy is used an excuse by individuals and mobs to kill people with Ilm-ud-din as their inspiration.

What happened in Paris on 7th January was actually an attempt by radical Islamists to introduce this ideology in France. As Douglas Murray said in BBC Question Time that this attack was an attempt to introduce draconian blasphemy laws in Paris.

In the aftermath of this attack, Western media has two options. First is to reprint these cartoons and continue the unflinching quest of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists because that will be the perfect way to pay tribute to their legacy. The second option is to take a step back and not criticize Islam or Mohammad and treat Islam in a different manner as compared to other religions.

If the media follows the latter option then that would be a victory for the attackers and this blasphemy ideology. This will set a dangerous precedent because tomorrow they might attack us for criticizing the burqa, the day after it will be Islamic apostasy laws and it will go on and on.

I hope that the steps we take and our future course of action will be against this ideology but only time will tell.



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