Insecurity and the Charlie Hedbo murders

Photograph: Pexels

In the wake of another militant Islamist attack in Paris, a retaliatory strike against the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad, a number of issues are called into question.

Firstly, according to the French media, the suspected Charlie Hebdo shooting suspects, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, are alleged to have a history of Islamist militancy including connections to terrorist networks involved in recruiting for Al Qaeda after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2005, Cherif himself was detained for attempting to board a flight to Syria, and was arrested again in 2008 for continued involvement in the sending of jihadists to Iraq.

The brothers were also implicated in a planned attempt to liberate one of the so called “Algerian 6”, Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem- a member of the terrorist group ‘Groupe Islamique Armé’ responsible for the bombing of the Paris Saint-Michel Metro Station in 1995 – from incarceration.

How is it that this pair were able to move around freely enough to obtain the volume of firepower they have been reported to be carrying for their attack? Presumably people with as volatile a history as their own ought to have been under surveillance?

The fact that these people felt justified in taking the lives not only of the artists, and those working for the publication, but also of a police officer shows them to be little more than thugs on a rampage leaving a trail of evidence in their wake. They have already drawn widespread condemnation from the wider Muslim community.

In a similar vein – not so long ago in 2005 – when violent protests took place in reaction to a cartoon in a Danish publication, the reaction to the apparent insult was grossly disproportionate. If you are against the publication of such cartoons, then you are against the freedom of speech and expression.

There is simply no room for that kind of mentality in Europe today. How insecure do these individuals have to be to feel threatened by a cartoon?

Offence, it might be said, is the price of democracy.

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