History News Network | Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris

Juan Cole has an interesting take on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack: “This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims, at which point al-Qaeda recruitment would suddenly exhibit some successes instead of faltering in the face of lively Beur youth culture (French Arabs playfully call themselves by this anagram).” It is certainly a possibility, but I’m not convinced at this point. It has happened before (as Cole points out) so it is not out of the question. However, this would assume that these men were carrying out an Al-Qaeda strategy rather than being lone wolves. At this point we don’t know enough. Either way, Cole is correct that this event will polarize the French population unless they have the fortitude to follow Cole’s advice: “The only effective response to this manipulative strategy (as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani tried to tell the Iraqi Shiites a decade ago) is to resist the impulse to blame an entire group for the actions of a few and to refuse to carry out identity-politics reprisals.” Read his entire essay at:

History News Network | Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris.

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