Intolerance After The Violence: Paris Gun Attack (Dispatch 4) – Published on Feb 5, 2015

Terrorism has aggravated anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and social segregation across France. VICE News correspondent Milène Larsson travelled to Paris to see how the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in early January have impacted its disparate communities.

Larsson meets the French branch of controversial political organization Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), which has gained support across Europe on the back of its anti-Islamization rhetoric. She also visits a Jewish school in Paris under heavy security, and speaks to activists from Muslim Students of France about the stigmatization of young muslims. Finally, she travels to the Paris suburb Villiers-sur-Marne — where a girlfriend of one of the attackers once lived — to find out what pushes young people towards radicalization.

Exclusive Interview with ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Cartoonist Luz – Published on Jan 31, 2015

In an exclusive interview, VICE News meets Luz, the surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist behind the magazine’s controversial Prophet Muhammad covers.

Speaking with us in his sniper-proof Paris apartment, Luz describes the scene he witnessed after gunmen attacked the magazine’s offices, explains the ideas behind the magazine’s latest cover, and addresses the mixed reactions it has sparked. He also discusses how things can quickly spiral out of control when breaking taboos in the internet age, and offers his surreal sense of becoming an unwitting icon of free expression.

Eight Lessons From the Charlie Hebdo Attack – By Brian Michael Jenkins JAN. 23 2015 12:28 PM

What we’ve learned from the worst terrorist attack in France in more than 50 years.

Police stand guard outside the offices of French daily newspaper Libération in Paris as the remaining members of the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff arrive for a meeting on Jan. 9, 2015. Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Police stand guard outside the offices of French daily newspaper Libération in Paris as the remaining members of the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff arrive for a meeting on Jan. 9, 2015.
Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

What can we learn from the recent terrorist attacks in Paris? Here are eight lessons.

1. Terrorism has many audiences. The terrorist attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris caused worldwide revulsion, provoked denunciations by Muslim leaders, and prompted millions to march for the right of free expression, which, according to French authorities, was the largest demonstration in French history. In other words, from the terrorists’ perspective, the bloody attack was a great success.

The attack attracted worldwide attention, caused fear and alarm, and allowed the killers to burnish their reputation as warriors. Dressed in black and armed with automatic weapons, they carried out their cold-blooded mission and escaped, at least for a short while. Observers described the terrorist operation as well planned, its execution competent—the attackers “seemed comfortable with their weapons,” said one former U.S. official. Of course, no one was shooting back, which makes things more comfortable. The attackers made a few mistakes—initially going to the wrong address, killing a policeman who turned out to be Muslim, and leaving behind an identity card in the getaway car—but the attack does stand in contrast to the recent spate of shootings, stabbings, and car-ramming attacks by jihadist loons.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility. Its strategists see communicating their message as 50 percent of the struggle. Almost all wartime propaganda is aimed at the homefront. The attack will hearten jihadists everywhere and gives al-Qaida a propaganda victory over its rival, ISIS, which had no choice but to also praise the attackers. Beyond the jihadist universe, revenge against those who would insult the prophet is applauded even among those who reject its violent delivery.

2. We participate in the creation of terror. Competitive news coverage, sober assessments alongside fear-mongering, and the perceived necessity for political leadership to respond combine to inflate the threat. The assault on Charlie Hebdo was the worst terrorist attack in France since the Algerian War more than 50 years ago. Anxiety demands visible action. France deployed 10,000 troops and 5,000 more cops. The United States issued a worldwide travel advisory, warning Americans to beware of the potential for new “terrorist actions and violence” everywhere. These steps are necessary, but they also elevate the terrorists and the threat they appear to pose.

Network news and 24-hour news channels mobilized countless talking heads to condemn the violence. Many seemed determined to frighten the audience—the doomsayers get the most attention. Good form requires expressions of sympathy for the victims followed by tough talk—bowed heads and clenched fists. Anything else risks accusations of ignoring the peril, weakness, aiding the enemy.

For government officials, it is an opportunity to share their concerns about the challenges they face and the resources they require. Others take the opportunity to advance political agendas, criticizing feckless governments for not doing more to stop the terrorists before they strike.

3. Al-Qaida remains a threat. While America’s attention has recently focused on defeating ISIS, the Paris attack underscores al-Qaida’s continuing commitment to terrorist attacks against the “far enemy.” The United States remains at the top of the list. Despite the American-led bombing campaign, ISIS has yet to launch terrorist attacks outside of the region, although that could come. Meanwhile, al-Qaida’s central command, and especially its Yemen-based affiliate, remain dedicated to attacks on the United States.

This threat is multidimensional. Relentless pursuit has made it extremely difficult for al-Qaida to launch terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11, but this has hardly rendered the group powerless. Al-Qaida reportedly sent veteran fighters and planners from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria to seek Western recruits among jihadist volunteers for terrorist missions in the West. Both AQAP and ISIS urge their supporters abroad to carry out terrorist actions at home. Experienced fighters returning from Syria and Iraq add another layer to the threat as demonstrated by the shootouts and arrests in Belgium following the Paris attack.

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“This guy’s clearly a complete idiot”: How Fox News became a laughingstock in Paris – BRUCE GAIN THURSDAY, JAN 22, 2015 7:15 PM UTC

While much attention has been paid stateside to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s public threat to sue Fox News this week, less focus has been given to the network’s ridiculous behavior that prompted the call to begin with.

“This guy’s clearly a complete idiot”: How Fox News became a laughingstock in Paris

But here in Paris, Fox’s claims of the existence of Islamist-run “no-go zones,” here and in other areas in Europe, have been lampooned with relish.

Reeling in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris-based newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market, the French equivalent of the David Letterman show, “Le Petit Journal,” managed to convey some much-needed comic relief to a national prime-time TV audience in France where much of the country grieved.

The Petit Journal’s broadcast of the Parisian neighborhoods could not have more patently depicted the absurdity of Fox’s portrayal of Paris, where, in reality, people of different ages, religions and ethnic origins freely go about their business, running errands, pushing strollers, etc.

Le Petit Journal correspondents were shown visiting the “no-go zones,” prompting guffaws from both the live studio audience and the incredulous passersby who were asked if their safe streets were comparable to those in Iraq or Afghanistan, if they ever saw someone wear bin Laden T-shirts, or other absurd questions. The U.S. equivalent would be asking people on the streets in Manhattan if Shariah law was the law of the streets there.

In another broadcast, Le Petit Journal cast members dressed up like U.S. journalists ventured into the “Most Dangerous City in the Universe.” They confronted such dangerous situations as a man with a “terrorist beard” driving a taxi or the site of a couscous restaurant. The sounds of a jackhammer are taken for gunfire as the fake TV reporter rolls on the ground in terror.“this_guy’s_clearly_a_complete_idiot”_how_fox_news_became_a_laughingstock_in_paris/

Obama Was Right to Skip Paris – By AMIL KHAN January 15, 2015

By lionizing Charlie Hebdo, Europe is empowering Al Qaeda.

World leaders and dignitaries, including (left to right) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Rania of Jordan. | Getty

President Obama has run into harsh criticism, both at home and abroad, for not attending this week’s Paris protest march or sending a high-level substitute in his place. French and European leaders, meanwhile, have won widespread praise for their aggressive and bold stand against jihadists.

Yet it’s the European reaction that plays right into Al Qaeda’s hands, and the Americans who are actually taking the wiser approach by not turning the Paris terror attacks into a giant battle for civilization—and Charlie Hebdo into a rallying cry for free speech. It was hardly a surprise that the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula appeared eager to claim responsibility Wednesday for the attacks. But for Al Qaeda, a triumph isn’t complete until it gets a reaction.

And, wow, did it ever get a reaction in Europe—precisely the wrong kind.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Western governments–the United States included–have struggled to grasp the challenge posed by al Qaeda’s strategy. They still seem all-too-mystified about how to respond and extinguish the enduring appeal that al Qaeda’s ideology seems to have for young Muslims. The world’s most infamous terrorist group—at least until Islamic State burst on to the scene last year—has in turn spent decades trying to figure out how to instigate a global Muslim rebellion against the West. It has always relied on a sort of geopolitical judo, using its enemies’ strength against them by making them prove its own worldview.

This strategy has succeeded to a greater degree among Muslim communities in Europe compared to the United States. In Europe, in general, Al Qaeda has found it easier to win over angry young European Muslims—as has the Islamic State—because it has found a pliable audience and exploited it. The most effective way to convince a target audience to buy into a rhetorical vision is to echo and respond to their grievances. In other words, use their existing complaints to make them sign up to your plan to fix things. Globally, al Qaeda’s problem has always been that although average Muslims have many long-standing complaints about Western foreign policy—such as support for Israel and Arab dictatorships—the vast majority were not ready to subscribe to its remedy of war and harsh religious law.

In response, Al Qaeda has sought to overcome this lack of interest among Muslims by trying to polarize Muslim and Western views, and here is where it has had a great deal of success in Europe, far less so in the United States. The Muslim underclass in many of these European countries is already polarized, and the over-the-top reaction to the Charlie Hebdo killings is only exacerbating that trend. The idea, as stated in the jihadi strategy document “Management of Savagery,” is to “transform societies into two opposing groups, igniting a violent battle between them whose end is either victory or martyrdom.” The best way to make sure the intended audience understands the justification for the attack is to make the attack itself self-explanatory, the strategists behind the document say. Clearly, the targeting of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine well known for printing images that many, if not most, Muslims would find offensive, but were seen as part of a cherished European tradition of free expression, fit very comfortably in this strategy.

True to Al Qaeda’s methodology, the attack is sharpening differences between communities and isolating European Muslims from their countrymen. Thanks to the efforts of European leaders and opinion makers to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo by embracing its humor—and the now-ubiquitous “Je Suis Charlie” slogan—many mainstream Muslims are resentful about the impossible choice they are being forced into: To demonstrate they do not support murder, they must show support for images they find offensive. Demands that European Muslims condemn the attacks serve to make many feel that they are seen as guilty until they prove themselves innocent. The focus on freedom of speech also re-opens simmering accusations from Muslim Europeans of double standards; in the days after the Hebdo attacks, a notorious French comedian known for his anti-Semitic comments, Dieudonne, was actually arrested for posting an offensive comment on his Facebook page. Overall, the direction of the public debate plays directly into Al Qaeda’s narrative that Muslims cannot live in the West without demeaning themselves. Meanwhile, the increase in anti-Muslim violence in the wake of the attacks reinforces the idea that Muslims are in danger and under siege.

Even Pope Francis has weighed in, oddly enough, on the side of offended Muslims and against the lionization of Charlie Hebdo. “You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others,” the pope said on Thursday, giving voice to seething Muslim resentment.

More worrying is the messaging being directed towards young, criminalized Muslims. While the attack was still underway, television channels around the world played images of the Kouachi brothers—the two terrorists who broke into the Charlie Hebdo offices—getting out of a car, moving along a street and shooting dead an injured policeman. News anchors described them in terms verging on awe, mentioning frequently that they seemed “highly trained” and “skilled in military tactics.” Such coverage glamorizes an act to an audience that is excited by the idea of instant recognition and adulation. According to one account of the hostage drama at the kosher market in Paris after the Hebdo killings, while the standoff was going on the gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, spent a lot of his time monitoring what was being said about him in the media—and grew very angry that new channels were not reporting that he had killed people.

Charlie Hebdo: Is all forgiven now? BBC News 13 January 2015 Last updated at 15:29 ET

If you didn’t know before, you certainly do now that depicting the Prophet Muhammad is considered extremely offensive to many Muslims worldwide.

A solidarity march following the Charlie Hebdo attacks

“Tout est pardonné” reads the latest Charlie Hebdo front page, but is all really forgiven?

BBC Trending

So you might have expected to see more reaction on social media to Charlie Hebdo’s latest front cover design featuring a cartoon of the Prophet. But it all seems to have gone a bit quiet.

Even Muslims who’ve taken offence seem to be puzzled by the lack of online protests.

Mohsin Ali, from Karachi, Pakistan rhetorically asks “where is the Muslim Ummah? (community).”

Why might this be? Mathieu, who lives in the Paris suburbs, waded into a Twitter thread with a Muslim and non-Muslim. He says his Muslim friends in Paris are “fairly observant: no alcohol, no pork, celebrate Ramadan, etc. but don’t wear hijab,” and aren’t particularly offended by the cartoon because they have accepted that non-Muslims act differently to them and “don’t follow Muslim rules.”

@slasherfun tweet

Similarly, feminist blogger @talatyaqoob said that as a Muslim living in Scotland she wasn’t offended by the cover, though she was offended by the action of the terrorists.

Of course there are some people who are very upset by the depiction of the Prophet – @Egyptocracy tweets that even if Muhammad himself was to hold the sign, nothing would be forgiven because depiction of him is against Islam.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti has also warned the cover will incite hatred, but the response on social has been fairly “muted”, says New York-based freelance journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldi.

He tweets: “The new cover of #CharlieHebdo would’ve been even more powerful had the cartoon depicted the Prophet carrying a sign that read #JeSuisAhmed,” a tag that sprang up to honour the Muslim policeman killed by the attackers.

Mourners at the funeral of police officer Ahmed Merebet, the Muslim police officer killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Mourners at the funeral of police officer Ahmed Merebet, the Muslim police officer killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks

“The terrorists want us to believe that a French-Muslim identity is an inherent contradiction. We must curtail this ‘otherisation,'” he adds.

“The reaction in the Arab world to this cover is varied obviously, but I haven’t seen a big response.”

One hashtag has grown since the cover design was released; #AllButOurProphet (#)الا_رسول_الله

It has had about 1,200 tweets in the past 24 hours in Arabic and 1,700 tweets in a French version, Touche_Pas_A_Mon_Prophete – by contrast the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag has been repeated about 7m times.

A sample tweet from @Mohamaddyasser5 using the #AllButOurProphet hashtag reads: “I feel for a while now they have been trying to see to what extent we will hold on to our values and morals, and failing this test gives them cause to push the boundaries further.”

The BBC – contrary to some reports – is using pictures of the latest Charlie Hebdo front cover, albeit in a limited way, mainly on TV programmes.

“The BBC is a news organisation committed both to free speech and respecting our audiences in the UK and around the world,” the corporation press office said in a statement. “We have made the editorial judgment that the images are central to reporting the story and will continue to report the story in a careful and considered manner.”