Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Jihadists Thirst for THEWEST to Crack Down on Muslims; the Attacks in Paris Are Aimed at Widening Existing Divides, Argues JOHN SADLER

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Jihadists Thirst for THEWEST to Crack Down on Muslims; the Attacks in Paris Are Aimed at Widening Existing Divides, Argues JOHN SADLER

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN SADLER

LAST week's lethal attacks in Paris have the potential to damage relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries.

The prime strategic intent behind such crimes is precisely to foster this kind of disunity, as well as to recruit yet more willing jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an internecine conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating what is already a tense and troubled situation.

The murderous onslaught directed against staff at the offices of Charlie Hebdo killed 12 people, another policewoman and four hostages died in or before the subsequent supermarket siege.

Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was apparently on an al Qaeda death list for insulting the Prophet Mohammed. Eyewitness said they heard the attackers yelling; we have avenged the Prophet and chanting, God is Great in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The criminals certainly showed signs of having been trained in the use of automatic weapons.

It is largely immaterial if these atrocities are the acts of homegrown jihadists or of local cadres affiliated to terrorist organisations. Such incidents ratchet up tensions between the Western and Muslim worlds.

This is all the more alarming in Europe, where we see the rise of right-wing groups. A key jihadist objective is to force states to crack down harder on Muslim communities, which gives credence to their claim that it is the West which is in fact waging war on Islam.

Western states go to voluble lengths to deny any such clash of faiths yet far-right groups spew out repugnant rhetoric that reinforces these very fears. There is also a major clash of perceived values. Freedom of expression, rightly venerated in the West, is viewed by many Muslims as a charter for blasphemy. Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims repudiate violence but such perceived sacrilege plays to the jihadists' tune.

In Pakistan, blasphemy laws have been the subject of considerable discord. Citizens have been murdered in retaliation for allegedly offensive words or deeds. …

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