The targets of the attack in the two capitals were the same, free speech and Jews. Now Europe has an obligation to both its future and past to stand up to this evil with not a single alibi.
PARIS — In the tolerant Copenhagen, capital city of a Denmark praised as a model for social integration, jihadist brutality has struck once again. With the same targets as in Paris a month before: freedom of speech, Jews, the police. The same evil requires the same answer: Let us not yield, nor mince words.
The similarity between the two tragedies is striking. The Danish killer attacked a cultural center hosting an event Saturday on “Art, Blasphemy and Free Speech,” in tribute to Charlie Hebdo. He opened fire from outside the building, killing one of the participants, filmmaker Finn Norgaard, and wounding three police officers. A few hours later, he attacked a synagogue and killed a man posted outside, Dan Uzan, a member of Copenhagen’s Jewish community.
The choice of targets reveals the same pathology — that of an Islamist-brewed hatred that intends to terrorize a democratic society and satisfy its violent anti-Semitism. That same jihadist hatred, meanwhile, justifies the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya on Sunday. Acting out is a specific criminal violence that has nothing to do whatsoever with any sort of economic or social context. This is particularly true in Denmark, where the welfare state is without a doubt one of the most comprehensive and protective on the continent.
Whatever we think of the incriminated caricatures, both in Copenhagen and in Paris, and though they can offend and hurt the beliefs of all, they’re part of the freedom of speech, in Denmark as well as in France, and there can be no compromise on this principle. We must defend the right to blasphemy for and of all.
European jihadism has taken the stereotypes of Europe’s old anti-Semitism and made them its own, adapting to the present times, mixing in conspiracy theories imported from the Middle East and spreading across the Internet.
It is the product of Islamism, an infantile — or senile — disease of Islam, similar to what the Inquisition was for the children of a sick Christianity. In that sense, it definitely has “something to do with Islam.” The intellectual decline in the Arab world, where Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism have their rightful place in the press, also allow it to spread.
With courage, Jewish representatives in France and in Denmark said that salvation is to be found in the jurisdiction of our democracies. Not in the exile of the Jews of Europe towards Israel, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again did not miss the opportunity to call for.
Let’s instead paraphrase what filmmaker Claude Lanzmann wrote in Le Monde on Jan. 13: “Europe without the Jews of Europe wouldn’t be Europe anymore,” because it would signify “the posthumous victory of Hitler.”