Geopolitics

Worldwide Reaction To Paris Terror, Round Two

Police officers in Paris just before storming a Kosher supermarket where hostages were held
Police officers in Paris just before storming a Kosher supermarket where hostages were held
Marc Alves and Alidad Vassigh

PARIS — First came the shocked reactions, not just form France but from all over the world, in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's cold-blooded killing of 12 people at the offices of weekly satirical paper Charlie Hebdo.

But as events carried through to a hostage standoff and climactic showdown late Friday, which saw four more innocent victims in a kosher supermarket and the slaying of three presumed terrorists, reflections on the attack's senselessness and its significance for the future have spread further, as France and other countries return to questions about how to react.


Other publications however turned their gaze to the immediate future. France's Libération called on its front page to "Resist" and its editor Laurent Joffrin stressed that the situation, "as bloody, deadly and terrifying as it is" was "terrorism, not war."

"Suspending the democratic process would be playing into the terrorists' hands by instilling fear in every single one of us and hurt democracy in its raison d"être," Joffrin wrote.

The Washington Post meanwhile said that following the attack, "perhaps Europeans will become more supportive of the counterterrorism surveillance programs mounted by the National Security Agency."

The horrors of the past days have sparked an overwhelming wave of support for the slaughtered cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. Radio France Internationale cited "unanimous" expressions of solidarity from newspapers and media outlets in Africa, perhaps not surprisingly given many Africans' disgust with violence and particularly, the depredations of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

"Terrorists will never triumph over our will, our determination to do our job with the greatest freedom," Ivory Coast"s L"Éléphant Déchaîné wrote.

As the #JeSuisCharlie became one of the most popular hashtags in Twitter's history, Le Monde reports that others have chosen to distance themselves from the controversial satirical newspapers and its cartoons, which have been branded by some as gratuitously provocative, by publishing instead #JeNeSuisPasCharlie.


I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so. #JesuisAhmed

— Dyab Abou Jahjah (@Aboujahjah) January 8, 2015

Foreseeing a possible backlash against Muslims and "laws of exception", Inès El-Shikh, a Tunisian expat in Switzerland, wrote on her blog for La Tribune de Genève that "the perpetual and obsessional dehumanization of the millions of Muslims living in Europe by media and politicians" played an important part in this week's events. "Even if I wanted to say "Je suis Charlie" in the next weeks, months or years ... the zeitgeist will never accept me as a citizen like any other, so I can never be a Charlie like any other."

Noting that it the hostage-taker's target Friday was not a satire magazine but a kosher supermarket, Israeli daily Haaretz said French Jews were once again reminded of the dangers of anti-Semitism after other deadly attacks in recent years, even as this week's events showed how Islamist terrorism threatens all in the West.

In the U.S., the Los Angeles Times observed that freedom of speech would inevitably touch on religion and the sacred, even if it offends certain people, but the only response to "religiously offensive speech" is "more speech, not legal reprisals and certainly not violence or vengence."

"The death of the killers," on Le Figaro. Its editorial: "Justice has been done."


Spain"s conservative daily El Mundo wrote in turn that the massacre had opened a debate on the "problems of multiculturalism" in the European Union. The challenge it wrote, was to "protect what we are without losing the essence of what we are," and that required "firmness" in defending European values.

A growing concern was the feared backlash against Muslims in Europe and elsewhere. The Paris-based review Jeune Afrique cited the Moroccan government as warning against "merging" terrorism with religion, and urging a "collective effort" to prevent "anything that can feed Islamophobia." In the United Arab Emirates, Gulf News condemned the murders as a "heinous crime" but insisted the "atrocious acts" must not be linked to "the true message of Islam as followed by hundreds of millions around the world and... in France."

China Daily"s opinion was that the massacre should be condemned by people of all beliefs and "countries must join hands" to defeat religious extremism, though a "confrontational approach is not enough." The civilized world, it stated, must reject "intolerance" as the fanatics' weapon of choice.


Germany"s Der Spiegel with the headline "Attack on Freedom."

In Peru, a country that suffered extreme terrorist violence in the 1980s and 90s, Patricia del Río reflected in the national daily El Comercio that even as the means of communication proliferated through technology, "we are becoming a society of human beings not ready to listen to or respect one another. Every day more interaction and less relations... never before had we hated each other so much."

The Times of India reported on public outrage over comments by Yakub Qureshi, the head of the Leftist BSP party in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, who said he would pay the assassins a reward. His party is not a Muslim party curiously, but publicly defends the poor. Reportedly he could be arrested for the comments.

Prague-based Radio Free Europe reported on Iran"s police forces preventing individuals from gathering outside the French embassy in Tehran, in solidarity with the murdered cartoonists. Nevertheless it showed pictures of flowers laid at the entrance of the embassy. Reactions in the Iran were generally subdued, perhaps in part for risks involved in showing eager sympathies for a magazine that mocked religion. Columnist Ali Beigdeli wrote in the daily Sharq on 8 January that an adequate response to such "frightening terrorist acts" was a rapprochement with Islamic countries, like Iran, that fight fanaticism.

Hasan Hanizadeh wrote in his column "Daesh in the Champs Elysées" in another reformist daily, Aftab-e Yazd, that clearly the terrorists were now intent on taking violence from the Middle East into Europe. But he recalled, echoing an oft-repeated "official" position in Iran, that groups like the Taliban or ISIS had received logistical and financial help, and "America, the West and the Zionist regime are actively involved in the formation of these terrorist organizations," which he stated were now turning on their former masters.

He questioned the freedom of speech Western societies were defending, asking why if it is sacred, those who deny the Holocaust are liable to fines or prosecution, but observed nobody could chide the weekly for exercising its "natural" right to mock the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

And one last image, an illustrated show of solidarity from New York:

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Society

Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Properly dressed in the holy city of Qom.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.


The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.

A woman in Tehran walks past a mural of an Iranian flag

The traffic police chief recently said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes

Rouzbeh Fouladi/ZUMA

New academic discipline

Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.

Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."

Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.

Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.

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