Please Note – This article was written on October 3, 2020
On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks we have a knife attack inspired by Islam.
According to Reuters, French police are currently reviewing a video they got from this young boy’s phone. It is alleged that in the video, the boy identifies himself as Zeheer Hassan Mehmood and he recites poetry praising Muhammad in a trance-like state later promising to fight the people who republished the caricatures of Mohammad. It is very sad to see a very young boy this heavily indoctrinated.
What is even more heartbreaking are the statements being attributed to his father, Arshad Mehmood, who is in Punjab Pakistan, in which he is quoted as saying his heart is overflowing with happiness because of these heinous attacks carried out by his son. He even vows that he would sacrifice all his sons to protect the prophet’s honor. He also confirms that his son called him before the attacks to inform him that he had been CHOSEN and ASSIGNED by the prophet to kill the blasphemers. Zeeher is reported to be claiming that he was “spiritually guided” to carry out this attack by a Sunni cleric and founder of Dawat-e-Islam Ilyas Qadri. This makes it clear that this was an Islamic terror attack on the people of France. This boy and his whole family’s interpretation of his Islamic texts is very troubling.
As a disclaimer, we need to be careful not to lump in all Muslims into one camp of savage lunatics or to think of immigrants/asylum seekers as people who bring violence and poverty to the west. We have to discuss this without resorting to anti-Muslim bigotry.
On the 25th of September 2020, a teenager of Pakistan descent launched a knife attack in Paris. He attacked two people who work at a documentary production house near the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine. The symbolism of this site cannot be lost since the attack coincided with the beginning of the trial of Muslims being charged with assisting terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo magazine. The French authorities are treating this as an Islamic terrorist attack. From the information provided by law enforcement this seems to be a disgruntled amateur’s work and not that of an established and well coordinated organization like ISIS or Al Qaeda.
This was not his first encounter with the police. According to the statement issued by French authorities, “Ali” was arrested last month for carrying a very large screwdriver which could be used as a weapon in such attacks. He was later released because his name was not in any anti terror databases.
This is a person who instead of appreciating the hospitality and opportunities available in France decided to dig into religious fanaticism. Instead of embracing the secular values of the western world (where he was seeking refuge), he decided to continue his religious fundamentalism. Let me reiterate that this is an act by an INDIVIDUAL who is a religious hardliner who believes that he is defending the honor of the prophet and that of the Islamic religion. Religion is making this boy and his family value the “honor” of his prophet more than the life and freedoms of a fellow human being. It is making them suspend their ability to think critically and to suspend his humanity. The individuals he attacked had nothing to do with the original cartoons.
Here is a refresher of what happened in 2015: Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of Muhammad deemed offensive by many Muslims. This sparked a huge outcry and protest by Muslims who felt that this was done to insult their prophet and that it was antithetical to pursuing social peace and cohesion. The brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi attacked the newspaper and left 12 people dead. Both the Al Qaeda and ISIS claimed responsibility for this heinous and reprehensible act.
This is an example of the clash between free speech, religious rights, and the impact of religious fanaticism. The Charlie Hebdo magazine reprinted caricatures of Muhammad in solidarity with the victims of the 2015 attack. They have freedom of expression to print such cartoons and they are insisting that not being able to reprint these images amounts to giving in to the demands made by terrorists of censoring certain types of speech.. They think that this will cause a slippery slope where the demands will keep getting bigger each time and the democratic space to exercise free speech will keep shrinking with each demand granted. On the other hand, the Islamic community is claiming that this is blasphemous and insensitive towards their sincerely held beliefs. Al- Qaeda and other terrorist groups renewed their waves of threats of violence on the “enemies of the prophet” as a result of the reprint.
French people have a strong tradition of lampooning higher authorities and historical figures from different backgrounds. It is part of their free speech tradition. Should they be forced to give it up to accommodate religious sensitivities of Muslims? Yes, it will make some Muslims feel angry, feel attacked, and get defensive such that it will be impossible to engage in a rational discussion with them at that point. At the same time, the Muslim community must understand that their priorities are greatly misguided. Yes, Muhammad is their revered prophet but in a secular society, not everyone holds the same views about him. They have to learn to peacefully coexist with people of different opinions and to react proportionately to criticism and blasphemy. Every other religion gets criticized and Islam should not be an exception. The Quran itself criticizes other religions yet they are allowed to propagate this under the same free speech guidelines. Muslims need to put their humanity first. Killing people or destroying property and terrorizing their neighbors is not the best way to prove that Islam is a “religion of peace”. It’s time to join the civilized world. Show the world Muhammad through your actions. Implement 25:63 that says
“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace”
Did the French authorities provide enough security for the people?
I don’t think that the authorities provided enough security. This was bound to be a tumultuous time even if the magazine had not reprinted the cartoons because of the ongoing trial. Even the interior minister Mr. Gerald Darmanin has ordered a review into why the French police underestimated the level of the security threat. Given the level of attention such a trial is likely to generate, law enforcement authorities were supposed to be on high alert particularly in the vicinity of the former offices of Charlie Hebdo. Also, this suspect had been arrested before and released because the authorities felt that he was not a threat. They ignored the fact that he had come into France with a very sketchy story and no identification papers at all.
What is the link between these attacks and Islam?
To start off, what do the following dates: January 15, February , April 19, June 26, August 21, and November 13 2015 have in common for the French people? These are all dates on which there was a terrorist attack in just one year. And all of them Islamic terrorist attacks. These terrorist attacks took different forms. Take the January 15 attack for instance: the former offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked by two Islamist gunmen brothers who felt they were fighting to protect the honor of the prophet Muhammad. These two were self identified members of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
On April 19 there was a failed jihadist attack on 2 churches which left 1 person dead. The Saint- Quentin Fallavier attack on June 26 was a beheading by an Islamist delivery driver. On November 13 there was a coordinated attack at various locations by suicide bombers and gunmen. This was dubbed the bloodiest terror attack in the history of France.
All these attacks show a variety in complexity and the evolution of the methods used by terrorists. According to a statement by the French interior minister Law enforcement agents have thwarted about 32 terror attacks in the past three years. In the same same statement the minister claimed that the French are at war with Islamic terrorism and described it as a critical fight that will require collective efforts in order to defeat extremism. It is also important to note that these attacks are not limited to France but are also prevalent in Europe and around the world.
These attacks are largely inspired by Islamic teachings. The scriptures and the promises that are made for those who help to expand and protect the religion even by deadly force. Both in the Quran and the hadiths there are calls to thwart the Kafirs. For example:
“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” – (2:193)
“And fight them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah . And if they cease – then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do.” (8:39).
These are are few example but the religious texts are littered with such verses.
There are numerous examples set by Muhammad, whom they hold with the highest regard, in which he killed blasphemers, apostates and non-Muslims. What is the prescribed punishment for blasphemers in Islam? Death. Given that the teachings are littered with such backward and barbaric ideas it is no wonder that people commit atrocities like the recent knife attacks or the other attacks I have alluded to before. Remember, they are promised the ultimate prize of Jannah for being a martyr.
The most clear example of killing in the name of Allah is the incident of Ka’ab ibn Ashraf. Muhammad sent an assassin, former friends of the man, allowing them to lie and murder him in cold blood.
Does France have a domestic terrorist problem and is it mainly fueled by asylum seekers and refugees?
France and a lot of other European countries have been facing waves of local terror attacks. According to the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism’s latest report dated January 2019, a wave of people (mainly returnees of European descent) being released from prisons after serving their jail terms for joining ISIS states are more of a threat than refugees and asylum seekers. Also, radicalized people in prisons pose a huge threat to society.
In conclusion, the fight against Islam continues. We must fight it without falling into bigotry. We have to partner with liberal reformists Muslims and push calls for a complete reformation of Islam. We have to spread awareness and enlightenment to the insular Muslim communities that tend to restrict the flow of information particularly information critical of Islam. The long term goal is to plant the seeds of doubt, encourage skepticism and critical thinking as well as spread secular humanism as far and wide as possible.
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- https://www.lepoint.fr/politique/la-drh-de-charlie-hebdo-exfiltree-de-son-domicile-21-09-2020-2392887_20.php (Charlie Hebdo HR manager interview)