Tag Archives: je suis charlie

This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo

Since the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s Muslim community, despite universally and repeatedly condemning the attack, has come under a wave of misguided “reprisal” attacks.

The attacks are being mapped by a respected British anti-Islamophobia group, Tell MAMA UK (MAMA stands for measuring anti-Muslim attacks). This map details the incidents since they began, mere hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack:

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

Attacks on French Muslims from January 6 to January 10 (Tell MAMA UK)

According to reports by AFP and others, the attacks have included:

  • Three training grenades thrown at a mosque in Le Man; a bullet hole was also found in one of the mosque windows
  • A bomb blast at a restaurant adjacent to and associated with a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saone
  • Gunshots fired at a mosque in Port-la-Nouvelle
  • A boar’s head and entrails were left outside an Islamic prayer center in Corsica with a note: “Next time it will be one of your heads.”

The attacks have been relatively small-scale, especially compared to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent violence committed by its apparent culprits. The only serious harm so far came from a gang assaulting a 17-year-old of North African descent. But these incidents point to a long-worsening trend of hostility in France toward the country’s Muslim minority, which makes up an estimated eight to 10 percent of the population, and a sense among French Muslims that they are not welcome.

The apparent logic of the mosque attacks badly misunderstands the initial Charlie Hebdo attack: if it was carried out by al-Qaeda-linked extremists, as early reports suggest, then this is a group that has made fellow Muslims its primary victims.

Further, such attacks play directly into al-Qaeda’s own logic and agenda, treating the act of few fringe extremists as representative of the non-extremist whole, and fomenting the idea of existential conflict between non-Muslims and Muslims where none actually exists.

It’s important to understand, though, that these attacks and the sentiment behind them did not come from nowhere. French attitudes toward Islam are, to say the least, complex — something evidenced at every stage of this story.

The growth of France’s Muslim population has led to deep concern about what that means for France’s secular traditions. The government banned head scarves and other religious symbols from public schools in 2004. In 2014, they banned concealing one’s face in public — a ban widely seen as targeting burqas and niqabs and suggesting that devout Muslim women were unwelcome in public life.

Of course, a ban on Muslim head coverings is nowhere near the same things as this spate of anti-Muslim violence, but both are rooted in a similar hostility toward Islam and Muslim immigrants in France, and contribute to the sense of siege among French Muslims.


Who attacked Charlie Hebdo?

French police have identified two suspects: Saïd Kouachi, 34, and his brother Chérif Kouachi, 32, both from Paris. A third man, Hamyd Mourad, 18, is from Reims. Mourad reportedly turned himself in at a police station near the France-Belgium border after his name began to circulate on social media, according to the New York Times.

The Kouachis have some prior links to international terrorism, though it’s not yet known if their attack was planned or funded by al-Qaeda or any other group.

The Kouachi brothers fled to an industrial building in Dammartin-en-Goele, a village outside of Paris, where they took a hostage. Police were initially put on their trail by an identity card left in a car the alleged shooters used, according to Le Monde. After a brief standoff, police raided the building, and both brothers were killed.

Before the Charles Hebdo attack, Chérif Kouachi was an active member of a cell known as the 19th arrondissement network or the Buttes-Chaumont Group, which sent European Muslims to fight in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion. Chérif and other key members of the group were arrested in 2005; he was allegedly planning to travel to Iraq, but never got to go. In 2008, he was convicted on terrorism charges but released for time served after his arrest.

In 2010, Chérif was arrested again, this time for trying to break a militant out of prison; The Star reports he was released for lack of evidence. In 2011, Saïd went to Yemen to train with al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the New York Times, his training lasted “for a few months” and covered marksmanship and small arms combat.

The alleged gunmen said after the attack that they had “avenged the Prophet Mohammad,” according to witnesses. One witness also told the New York Times, “They spoke perfect French, and claimed to be from Al Qaeda.”



Commentary on Charlie Hebdo International Press

I have assembled a handful of particularly interesting articles  that i have read commenting on the looming political crisis surrounding the tragic events that have unfolded in France.

John Cassidy “Charlier Hebdo and the Clash of Civilisations” for The New Yorker

“A  day on, the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris continues to shock and outrage. But it has also provoked a show of resolve, in displays of the phrase “Je Suis Charlie,” which was daubed on a statue during a spontaneous demonstration at the Place de la République, and has turned into an instantly recognizable affirmation of the need to preserve freedom of expression, even, and perhaps most vitally, when that freedom empowers some people to satirize and lampoon things that others hold sacred.
On a more mundane and depressing level, the attack has revived some old debates and prejudices that lead down a cul-de-sac. On Twitter, in the hours after the attacks, the phrase #KillAllMuslims was trending for a while (although it should also be noted that some of those tweeting the phrase were doing so only to object to it). Meanwhile, some serious commentators and analysts were raising the old, thorny question about the links, purported or real, between Islam and the violence carried out in its name by fanatical zealots, such as the Kouachi brothers, Chérif and Said, whom French authorities have identified as suspects in the attack.
Echoing Samuel Huntington’s famous warning that “Islam has bloody borders,” Richard Dawkins, the English ethologist and atheist, who wrote the 2006 best-seller “The God Delusion,” wrote on Twitter of the Paris attackers, “They shouted ‘We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad’. . . . Some useful idiot will claim it had nothing to do with religion.” And, subsequently, “No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.” On the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born writer and activist, wrote, “After the horrific massacre . . . perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.”
Nicholas Kristof text for the New York Times
Jan 7 2015
“The French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo skewers people of all faiths and backgrounds. One cartoon showed rolls of toilet paper marked “Bible,” “Torah” and “Quran,” and the explanation: “In the toilet, all religions.”
Yet when masked gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris on Wednesday with AK-47s, murdering 12 people in the worst terror attack on French soil in decades, many of us assumed immediately that the perpetrators weren’t Christian or Jewish fanatics but more likely Islamic extremists.
Outraged Christians, Jews or atheists might vent frustrations on Facebook or Twitter. Yet it looks as if Islamic extremists once again have expressed their displeasure with bullets.

Many ask, Is there something about Islam that leads inexorably to violence, terrorism and subjugation of women?”

Opinion Piece by Ayan Hirsi Ali
Jan 7 2015
“How to Answer the Paris Terror Attack”

After the horrific massacre Wednesday at the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.

This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman. This was not an “un-Islamic” attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad. Nor was it spontaneous. It was planned to inflict maximum damage, during a staff meeting, with automatic weapons and a getaway plan. It was designed to sow terror, and in that it has worked.

The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.
More to come later

Mass Media Responses to Je Suis Charlie

I have been scanning the blog postings, newspaper articles, televised news etc  and below are a series of links to articles that will be potentially productive in the wake of the tragedy in France. Of particular interest is a interesting short text by Richard Seymour “On Charlie Hebdo” and how we should fear the coming Islamophobic backlash in Jacobin online.

Link to the text is here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/charlie-hebdo-islamophobia/

“Many journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered by bampots brandishing what appear to be machine guns at close range. It is too soon to have a complete, coherent political narrative of these killings. All one can have at this point are the correct but platitudinous points about there being no justification for this, that all attacks on journalists are abhorrent, that freedom of speech must be defended to the last drop of blood, and so on. If you really need that sermon, you’re in the wrong place.

However, there is a wider narrative that is emerging in the rush to judgment, as news media attempt to stitch together details — at first entirely circumstantial— into an explanatory story. The assumption is that the killers are members of some sort of Islamist group, possibly linked to Islamic State, and are exacting political retribution for the publication’s regular satirical attacks on Islam by executing its journalists. And about that, I do have something beyond the obvious to say, just as a starting point.”


Prime example of what what Seymour is attempting to counter in Simon Heffer’s article “France, a land tormented by its history as hostility between native and increasing Muslim population grows” in the Daily Mail. (8 Jan 2015)


Excerpt that links the burqa to militancy in france:

“In 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy said the burqa was not welcome in France, as it was a symbol of female subservience. His opponents on the Left took a similarly tough position.

The attitude of the wider French public also hardened against Muslims. A survey in 2013 found that only 26 per cent felt that Islam was compatible with French society.

Added to this incendiary mood was the decision of the current president, Francois Hollande, to bomb Islamist militant positions in northern Mali (another former French colony) to drive out al-Qaeda-linked groups.”

A interesting article that revisits how we should read such images from the canadian press