Hebdo, Hypocrisy and the Way Forward

For those who scream blue murder about freedom of the press and freedom of expression being the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, let us take a deeper look and see to what extent the West in general is engaged in censorship and spreading lies. For those who complain about terrorism, let us not be hypocritical.

Let us start where we should, namely paying respect to the victims (and their families and loved ones) of the shocking attack which took place at the editing rooms of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris on January 7 2015, the first big event to mar the New Year, the first benchmark in the news which will constitute 2015.

Let us also start by underlining a universal human value, the right to life and let us condemn those who take it away in any shape or form. This involves an unqualified attack against terrorist acts anywhere at any time against any target; these must be condemned in the very strongest words possible whether they are perpetrated by some demented fanatic at the end of a Marathon, by Islamist fundamentalist jihadis avenging the Prophet, by some coward flying at 30,000 feet in the sky blasting the faces off civilians at a wedding party or by a Government which takes part in an uprising in a foreign country using terrorists as its tool.

France, unfortunately, did exactly this and was a leading member of the FUKUS Axis (France-UK-US) attack on Libya, a sovereign state enjoying the highest Human Development Index in Africa, living at peace, disturbing nobody. This is not to justify or gloat about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but let us call a spade a spade: all terrorist attacks are wrong, including those perpetrated by NATO in Libya, in Syria and elsewhere.

So, you throw the boomerang and it comes back to hit you square in the face. You spend months demonizing "Assad", saying "he must go", then what happens? Thousands of youths with empty lives jet off to Syria to become Jihadis, many of them thinking they are doing their duty for their religion (although because President Assad is a Moslem therefore any act against him is unjustified) and their country. And now what? Many of these Jihadis are totally demoralized because they see the Syrian "Opposition" for what it is, namely a bunch of thugs and terrorists impaling kids on metal spikes, slicing the breasts off women in the streets, decapitating them then raping the bodies, using Downs Syndrome children as suicide bombers and so on. Just as the West's darling terrorists did in Libya. But they are radicalized, have no lives to come back to and have learnt some new tricks among the terrorists trying to topple President Assad.

And the next move on the social and political chess board is for radical extremist groups to pop up like mushrooms across Europe calling for moves against Moslems in particular and immigrants in general, as Fortress Europa continues to be assailed by hundreds of migrants a day looking for a slice of the cake, while up to 60 per cent of Europe's youth in some areas are endemically unemployed.

A positive situation it is not, and it seems things can only spiral downwards from here. While every problem has a solution, this one is very complex and it would appear there is no easy way out of a situation which has been brewing for decades.

When a terrorist group is localized and has a cause which is regional or local in its scope, it is relatively easy to engage the organization on two levels - officially, through military operations and the security services, and unofficially through negotiations to bring the action onto the political stage. Examples of success are the IRA, ETA and several groups in Africa, for instance in the DR Congo.

But when you have terrorist acts being perpetrated by cells of disaffected youths without any particular cause, except for a misty and vague idealistic chimera about defending Islam, no such approach is possible.

It is important to contextualize the situation with the example of a group of Portuguese Jews in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Banned from Portugal by the Inquisition, they fled to Amsterdam, where they were also banned by the Inquisition, so they fled to London where they were banned by the Christian King and then went to Italy, where they were again banned by the Christians, and ended up enjoying their freedom and hospitality protected by the Moslem Ottoman Empire.

So Islam and Moslems are one thing, Islamist fundamentalism is another, and in fact this movement is a blasphemy to Islam itself because Islam is, more than a religion of peace, a way of life which involves respect for all living beings, including animals and plants.

Why these youths have been radicalized cannot be blamed on the western education system in general because most people do not go around blowing themselves up on trains or planting bombs indiscriminately in public places. However, how many of these youths are engaged inside the societies in which they live, with stable jobs and hopes for the future? How many of those young radicals in Paris come from the banlieues, the suburbs, rings of poverty around the main cities of France?

How many of Britain's radicalized youths come from the Inner Cities, where once again they are marginalized and feel they do not belong to the society in which they grew up and find in radical Islamist doctrine an escape, as others find an escape in drugs?

The problem, therefore, is not a complex one of religion, it is a simple socio-economic question. The way forward therefore, is to engage the community leaders in the banlieues and inner cities, giving reinforced powers to local authorities, including structuring the education program so that it makes sense to individuals in certain areas. The legacy of Muammar al-Gaddafy was to teach us that the human being thrives when the system of governance is localized and when small communities govern themselves - this was the Jamahiriya, which France and its Anglo-Saxon bedmasters helped to destroy.

Let us end where we should, once again sympathizing with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack and their families and loved ones. And for those who scream blue murder about freedom of expression and freedom of the press after this outrage against a French satirical publication (very much a French tradition dating back to the times of the Revolution), let us remember the hacking attacks by western agents against social media, let us remember the purposeful taking over of social media accounts by western agents, let us remember the hacking of emails by western agents. Is this freedom of expression?

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


([email protected])

*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. He is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights.



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey