Said and Cherif Kouachi, the lead perpetrators of Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Paris based French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo have taken a hostage and are now held up in a printing facility in Dammartin-en-Goel about 22 miles outside Paris. The building is surrounded by police officers. It is likely that Kouachi brothers will get their wish to “die as martyrs” for Islam. Said, 34, and Cherif, 32, targeted Charlie Hebdo because the publication is well known for its cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The Kouachi brothers were both reportedly on the US “No Fly” list. Cherif Kouachi has also long been suspected of having terrorist ties. In 2008, he was convicted of terrorism for helping funnel fighters to Iraq with the charge of “criminal association with a terrorist enterprise.” The Eiffel Tower was dimmed Thursday evening to honor the twelve victims which included ten staff members among them editor/cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier and two police officers. One of the slain police officers was on the premises because he had been serving as a body guard to Charbonnier for the last few years. In September 2013, Inspire Magazine, an Al Qaeda publication published a “wanted’ poster identifying the nine individuals whom Muslims should kill if the opportunity presented itself; Charbonnier was on the list. Upon leaving the scene, the Kouachi brothers along with eighteen year old Hamyd Mourad who has since given himself up, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and “We have avenged Muhammed. We have killed Charlie Hebdo.”
French President Francois Hollande very quickly denounced the shooting at Charlie Hebdo as “a terrorist attack” and declared Thursday January 8 a day of national mourning. Josh Earnest, President Obama’s Press Secretary, first referred to the shooting as an “act of violence”. Within a half hour, his talking points had been modified to refer to the incident as an “act of terrorism”. Earnest also experienced an uncomfortable on air moment with Fox News Reporter Ed Henry, who inquired as to what happened in that brief time span to change his choice of phrasing. President Obama also issued his own statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. “ Secretary of State John Kerry said that the “freedom of expression” represented by Charlie Hebdo “is not to able to be killed by this kind of act of terror”. While these leaders and their spokespeople eventually used the word “terrorism”, they did not link terrorism with radical Islam in their public statements. And President Obama has demonstrated this refusal to correlate terrorism with the Muslim faith repeatedly. In 2012, he famously stated at UN meeting “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” More recently, President Obama and his administration had described ISIS as having “nothing to do with Islam”. President Obama’s public communications repeatedly emphasize that most Muslims are peaceful.
Statements that Muslims are peaceful are not helpful, because they undermine the glaring evidence of radical Islam’s growing voice. 75% of the world’s terrorist acts are committed by Islamic terrorists. (Investigative Project on Terrorism). Until we start to label radical Islam by its rightful name, we cannot begin the process of eradicating it at its root. This involves identifying individuals who are most likely to become prey to terrorist recruiter’s particularly disenfranchised youth. To do this, we need the Muslim community to look inward and find other ways to engage, educate and nurture the most vulnerable members of their community, which usually includes those who are economically disadvantaged, socially isolated and in some instance, limited in skills and education. But in order to fully engage the Muslim community at large, we need our world leaders to stop worrying about political correctness and start properly naming “radical Islam”. That is the first step. #JeSuisCharlie
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