How to Answer the Paris Terror AttackPosted: January 8, 2015 | |
The West must stand up for freedom—and acknowledge the link between Islamists’ political ideology and their religious beliefs
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes: 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.
“How we respond to this attack is of great consequence. If we take the position that we are dealing with a handful of murderous thugs with no connection to what they so vocally claim, then we are not answering them.”
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.
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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.
“We have to acknowledge that today’s Islamists are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in the foundational texts of Islam. We can no longer pretend that it is possible to divorce actions from the ideals that inspire them.”
The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.
There are numerous calls to violent jihad in the Quran. But the Quran is hardly alone. In too much of Islam, jihad is a thoroughly modern concept. The 20th-century jihad “bible,” and an animating work for many Islamist groups today, is “The Quranic Concept of War,” a book written in the mid-1970s by Pakistani Gen. S.K. Malik. He argues that because God, Allah, himself authored every word of the Quran, the rules of war contained in the Quran are of a higher caliber than the rules developed by mere mortals.
“Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.”
In Malik’s analysis of Quranic strategy, the human soul—and not any physical battlefield—is the center of conflict. The key to victory, taught by Allah through the military campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad, is to strike at the soul of your enemy. And the best way to strike at your enemy’s soul is through terror. Terror, Malik writes, is “the point where the means and the end meet.” Terror, he adds, “is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose.”
“The more we oblige, the more we self-censor, the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.”
Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want.
In Islam, it is a grave sin to visually depict or in any way slander the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are free to believe this, but why should such a prohibition be forced on nonbelievers? In the U.S., Mormons didn’t seek to impose the death penalty on those who wrote and produced “The Book of Mormon,” a satirical Broadway sendup of their faith. Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.
Moreover, despite what the Quran may teach…(read more)
Ms. Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the author of “Infidel” (2007). Her latest book, “Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation,” will be published in April by HarperCollins.