LINDSEY GERMAN looks forward to a more stable world
NO-ONE can have anything but the profoundest condemnation for the attacks on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Twelve people, eight of whom were journalists, were shot and killed in a commando-style attack.
The magazine had recently published a cartoon of the Islamic State (Isis) leader, and has a record of publishing anti-Islamic satire. The gunmen are believed to be in some way connected with Isis.
There can be no justification for the attack. It should be possible to satirise or to criticise ideas without this being something that can result in death or injury.
There must, however, be a response to it that does not lead either to an increase in future terrorist attacks or in a rise in attacks on Muslims.
Neither outcome, unfortunately, is likely if responses so far and in the past are anything to go by.
The one effective response to such attacks would be for Western governments to change their foreign policy, which has helped to create precisely the terrorism that they now abhor.
Isis has grown in Iraq and Syria as a consequence of the failed wars there. The instability created in Iraq as a result of Western intervention, the backing of a sectarian and oppressive government by the occupiers, and the present air strikes which are helping to win support for Isis, have all contributed to the strengthening of this organisation.
Isis has received weapons and money from the Saudis and Qataris, has grabbed weapons provided by the West for other anti-Assad groups, and has received material support from Turkey.
These are precisely the Western allies, Turkey also being a Nato member, who sign up for the “war on terror” but practice something different.
The interventions they supported have greatly increased instability, for example in Libya where the British and French-led bombing in 2011 continues to result in bitter civil war and conflict.
The prediction made by, among others, former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller that the war on Iraq would lead to a much greater threat of terrorism has unfortunately proved to be the case.
In recent years, France, under presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, has played an increasing role in these interventions.
That the wars are all blamed on Muslims ignores the fact that the Libyan groups or Isis are of course in large part fighting other Muslims.
The refugees coming out of Syria, left on crewless boats to sink or swim in the Mediterranean, also include many Muslims.
The consequences of the wars, with hundreds of thousands dead and many more refugees, have incensed people around the world.
People in Western countries have been faced with their opposition to these interventions being ignored and Muslims have also faced a growing level of racism and prejudice against them.
We see this with the rise of far-right parties, the restrictions on Muslim dress, the infringements of civil liberties and the branding of all Muslims as somehow extremists or proto-terrorists.
In France, there is a very strong far-right party in the shape of the Front National, and some of the worst restrictions on Muslims, for example over wearing the hijab.
In Germany, the anti-Islamic Pergida demonstrations have linked Muslims to crime. Levels of racism in Britain have grown, focused both on Muslims and immigrants.
The latest attack will lead to a greater backlash and greater levels of Islamophobia. But it is not Muslims who are the problem but the foreign policies that have helped create terrorism. That is what needs to change.
n Lindsey German is convener of the Stop the War Coalition.