[Photo: Eiffel Tower illuminated in colours of French Flag in honour of victims of Paris terrorist attacks. Photographer: Geoffrory Van der Hasslet/ AA]
We condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris unequivocally. There is no justification for the atrocities carried out by Daesh (sometimes called IS/ISIS/ISIL). Our deepest condolences go to the families and friends of the victims, as well as the French people. And we send our prayers to the actual victims of these horrific attacks.
The question is, how best to respond. Unfortunately what we have seen is not likely to be effective.
Firstly, there was an uncanny parallel between the French reaction and that of the USA following the 9/11 atrocities. Like former US President, George W Bush, French President, François Hollande, declared the terrorist attacks as an “act of war.” Both made the same mistake of rhetorically invoking the language of war to elevate the status of a terrorist group to that of sovereign entity and give them the international stature which they seek.
Worse still Hollande ordered waves of revenge carpet bombing in Syria, bringing his own country down to the level of the degenerative terrorists and using questionable military means without specific UN authorisation. Based on the choice of language used, it seems that he may have also been triggering obligations of support from other Nato members based on Article 5 by claiming he was “at war” with Daesh who “planned from abroad”.
Unless there is similar balking from local governments as was the case in the invasion of Iraq, most of Europe and North America could find themselves officially “at war” against Daesh.
There can be nothing to detract from the justifiable worldwide condemnation of the barbaric and heinous crimes committed by Daesh. The terror group appears to be becoming more outrageous and deliberately provocative to seek a response with the aim of boosting its dastard self-image.
There can be no justification for the random killing or violence against any civilians wherever commitment and wherever they may be. The main victims of Daesh attacks in the Middle East and Africa, are Muslims, and it is a pity there are not similar outpourings against Daesh atrocities in non-European countries, like the recent atrocity in Beirut, Lebanon.
It is also of deep regret that Western leaders and the media give such an odious terrorist group any link with Islam. By insisting on calling them “Islamists” and “Jihadists” only bestows on its wretched members what is being sought as well as being used to try to gain recruits. Divisive legislation also targets all Muslims to make them second-class citizens.
So how does France and the rest of the international community want to respond? Does it want to repeat the mistakes made by the US with the support of its allies and launch self-defeating invasions like in Iraq and Afghanistan that have already made the so-called war against terrorism much worse?
By lashing out, the French President may be giving the impression of doing something to meet the clamour for action. But like the response to the insidious attacks on at Charlie Hebdo almost a year ago, the attempted defiance portrayed appears to have resolved nothing and only proved to be counterproductive.
Like in Libya, the bombing attacks being carried out by leading Nato members in Syria have a dubious legal basis as was the case with Iraq and Afghanistan before it. Western nations seem to have learned lessons about putting troops on the ground but it seems this lesson does not extend to all forms of military intervention.
What is not known is that six percent of those killed in the Paris terrorist attacks were Muslims. One of them, Asta Diakité was the cousin of Lassana Diarra – a professional footballer for the French national team, who was playing in the France-Germany match that was interrupted by the bombing near the Stade de France. Diarra was not cowed down. On the contrary he played on November 23, friendly between England and France.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, large number of Muslims, mosques and Islamic centres in France, UK, Canada and the US were attacked. Due to the increase in Islamophobic attacks against Muslims, many Muslims, especially women in the hijab, are afraid to venture out.
Unfortunately the media and politicians’ continued use of the word “Islam” in the discourse of reporting on terrorism leads to the attacks on visible form of Islam, mostly women in the hijab and anyone who “looks” like Muslim, and mosques and Islamic centres.