What difference does a year make?
A year ago today, Muslim terrorists murdered twelve people. Eleven of those killed worked in the same building as France’s satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The twelfth was a Parisian cop. al-Qaeda took credit for the attack and claimed “offensive” images of Islamic Prophet Mohammad sparked the gruesome attack.
After the terrorist assault on free speech, papers refused to re-publish those “offensive” cartoons. Pundits in our own free press blamed Charlie Hebdo for inciting violence.
Fast forward one year. What has changed?
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will mark a year since an attack on its offices with a cover featuring a bearded man representing God with a Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, accompanied by the text: “One year on: the assassin is still out there.”
One million copies of the special edition will be available on newsstands on Wednesday, with tens of thousands more to be sent overseas.
It will mark a year since brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into Charlie Hebdo’s offices in eastern Paris and killed 12 people, including eight of the magazine’s staff.
The attack on 7 January 2015, claimed by al-Qaida’s branch in the Arabian Peninsula, came after a 2011 firebombing of its offices that forced it to move premises. Its staff had also been under police protection since it published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in 2006.
Included in the special edition will be a collection of cartoons by the five Charlie Hebdo artists killed in the 2015 attack as well as several external contributors.
Since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Paris suffered another horrific attack, wherein more than one hundred people were murdered by Muslim terrorists. Today, Parisian police shot and killed a man wearing a fake explosive-laden vest, wielding a knife. Police say the affair was, “most likely terrorism.”
Officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man wearing a fake explosive vest at a police station in northern Paris on Thursday, French officials said, a year to the day after an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo launched a bloody year in the French capital.
Luc Poignant, a police union official, said the man cried out “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
The man was wearing what looked like an explosive vest, but it was fake, according to two French police officials. They said the man has not yet been identified.
Just a few minutes earlier, elsewhere in the city, French President Francois Hollande had finished paying homage to police officers killed in the line of duty, including three shot to death in attacks last January.
A Paris police official said police were investigating the incident at the Paris police station Thursday as “more likely terrorism” than a standard criminal act. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy. The neighborhood in the Goutte d’Or district of northern Paris was locked down.
Hollande had said earlier that what he called a “terrorist threat” would continue to weigh on France.
On Jan. 7, 2015, two French-born brothers killed 11 people inside the building where Charlie Hebdo operated, as well as a Muslim policeman outside. Over the next two days, an accomplice shot a policewoman to death and then stormed a kosher supermarket, killing four hostages. All three gunmen died.
Survivors of the January attacks, meanwhile, are continuing to speak out.
Cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, who is known as Riss, told France Inter radio “security is a new expense for the newspaper budget.”
“This past year we’ve had to invest nearly 2 million euros to secure our office, which is an enormous sum,” he said. “We have to spend hundreds of thousands on surveillance of our offices, which wasn’t previously in Charlie’s budget, but we had an obligation so that employees feel safe and can work safely.”
Determined to avoid another massive attack by radical Muslims, France is not taking any chances.
In a speech to police forces charged with protecting the country against new attacks, Hollande said the government was passing new laws and ramping up security, but the threat remained high.
Hollande especially called for better surveillance of “radicalized” citizens who have joined Islamic State or other militant groups in Syria and Iraq when they return to France.
“We must be able to force these people —and only these people— to fulfill certain obligations and if necessary to put them under house arrest … because they are dangerous,” he said.
Meanwhile, next door in Germany officials are cracking down on “hate speech” directed at refugees. German officials have even gone so far as to work with social media giants like Facebook to assist in “hate speech” monitoring:
…in Germany, the government is effectively enforcing civility, taking aim at a surge of hate speech against refugees and Muslims.
As Western Europe’s most populous nation grapples with a historic wave of mostly-Muslim migrants, politicians and activists are decrying a rash of incendiary speech bubbling to the surface of German society. In a country whose Nazi past led to some of the strictest laws in the West protecting minorities from people inciting hatred, prosecutors are launching investigations into inflammatory comments as judges dole out fines, even probation time, to the worst offenders.
German authorities, meanwhile, have reached a deal with Facebook, Google and Twitter to get tougher on offensive content, with the outlets agreeing to apply domestic laws, rather than their own corporate policies, to reviews of posts.
Slow as it may be, France appears to have learned a lesson the Germans have not — speaking nicely to those whose religious and political goal is to annihilate you will not buffer, halt, nor impede their willingness to do so.
This past weekend Professor Jacobson wrote a blog post I keep going back to. I’ve probably read it seven or eight times now. Each time I do, I find another nugget. “First the Saturday People, Then the Sunday People,” explores why the fate of Jews and Christians are intertwined. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so. (You should read everything we publish, but that’s kind of a given and also my completely unbiased and humble opinion.)
In that post, Prof. Jacobson included this quoting from a 1976 article written by Bernard Lewis for Commentary Magazine:
This recurring unwillingness to recognize the nature of Islam or even the fact of Islam as an independent, different, and autonomous religious phenomenon persists and recurs from medieval to modern times….Modern Western man, being unable for the most part to assign a dominant and central place to religion in his own affairs, found himself unable to conceive that any other peoples in any other place could have done so, and was therefore impelled to devise other explanations of what seemed to him only superficially religious phenomena….
To the modern Western mind, it is not conceivable that men would fight and die in such numbers over mere differences of religion; there have to be some other “genuine” reasons underneath the religious veil….This is reflected in the present inability, political, journalistic, and scholarly alike, to recognize the importance of the factor of religion in the current affairs of the Muslim world and in the consequent recourse to the language of left-wing and right-wing, progressive and conservative, and the rest of the Western terminology…. “
This is what France seems to be learning. It was an expensive lesson. The cost? Almost two hundred innocent lives in the year since Charlie Hebdo was attacked.
A year ago I wrote:
We will always battle those who hate truth, and those who hate truth will always try to extinguish it. It is incumbent upon those that speak the truth to do so bravely, unabashedly, especially in the face of evil. Truth is what Charlie Hebdo chose. The price was twelve lives.
My hope is that in their bravery, we find resolve. And in that resolve, we awake to a fresh realization that freedom is never free. Should the day ever arrive, are we willing to pay the price Truth too often requires?
I hope I am.
And today, a year later? The same remains true. Je suis Charlie.
Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye