Are you Charlie?

It was quickly dubbed the “9/11 of France” as the way it happened and the manner it received publicity

It was quickly dubbed the “9/11 of France” as the way it happened and the manner it received publicity were very similar to what happened 14 years ago in New York.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was, very interestingly, captured on video, only partially, but enough to show the viciousness of the act; and until all the suspects were killed, there was live coverage from the scenes of the two sieges, one laid around the rural building where two attackers on the French satirical magazine were killed and the other from the area of the store selling kosher food to a mainly Jewish customer base. All the elements were complete to reflect the essence of the assault of Islam on the Old and New Testament.

Then came a massive outpour of support for the weekly, which, until the incident, was only a marginal publication with about a total of 60,000 circulation. Actually, the support was so overwhelming that even the survivors from the editorial office the Charile Hebdo expressed displeasure for having the sympathies of far-right, anti-immigrant political parties and movements throughout Europe. The massive “Je suis Charlie” campaign captured the globe over social media, it made it even to the Golden Globe awards ceremony in Hollywood.

Then there was the great debate: New York Times said in an op-ed column that it was not Charlie, because Charlie was, like a naughty kid, something to be tolerated only to a certain extent because it said what others did not want to or were afraid to say. And some journalists questioned, unlike after the 9/11, what had really happened: How come all three terrorists were killed when the security apparatus that was mobilized to capture them had so many sophisticated tools at their disposal? And how did the female partner of one of the terrorists could travel freely to Syria, through Turkey, one of France’s allies in the fight against terrorism, within just a day of her partner being killed in the Jewish grocery store?

Then those commentators who look at global developments from a strategic vantage point said this was the result of the internal conflict within Islam. Some of those commentators claimed the clash between the sects of Islam was the root cause of the extremism, others alleged it was because old school Islam was trying to prevent modernization of the religious thinking. But the overarching tone of the articles suggested that Islamic terrorism was here to stay and we should be resigned to live with it.

So one cannot help asking: After spending trillions of dollars and sending our young people, and losing some of them, just to fight it, invading countries purportedly to establish democratic rule to eradicate it, are we supposed to admit that religious extremism is invincible and all that was done turned out to be futile?

Or against the advice of Einstein (about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome), are we going to keep sending more soldiers and hardware to fight and defeat what could not be defeated over the last quarter of a century?

If not, how are we supposed to get rid of religious/Islamic extremism? What kind of an approach should be adopted to neutralize the factors that breed extremism?

Did Charlie Hebdo have anything to do about finding answers to those questions?

Are you Charlie?

Mustafa Eric