I’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking about the Charlie Hebdo killings, as I’m sure others have as well. I’ve actually have a difficult time with understanding the reaction in France. Besides the obvious: “Oh! what a surprise, some pissed off muslims targeted a bunch of satirists for making fun of their religious figure”, I didn’t understand some of the rhetoric being used, nor did I understand the strong support for a few people killed, when multiple people get killed every day; and in fact, there were reports at the exact same time that bodies were still being found in bushes in Africa from a large scale Boko Haram attack that no one was really talking about at all.
And then I read the article below from two days ago. Apparently, this terror against the jewish community by radical muslims has been going on in France for quite a while. People are tired, but they are not going to let the people doing these killings get the better of them. The French people are going to join arms in support of all their communities. I get that.
So, then the problem becomes, as an American, my media outlets have completely and utterly let me down by not allowing me to shape my own opinion of what I was seeing. This isn’t actually an attack on the French, its an attack on a subset of French people. It makes sense now when the American media talks about how planned this was (even though terror dudes went to the wrong building, thusly destroying any actual surface idea the attacks were well planned).
I really wish we could depend on what we were being shown as being even mostly the whole story.
Read more: France: The Ground Shifts
And so, when news broke of the Charlie Hebdo killings, the French were in a sense primed for it. It did not seem preposterous that one of the Kouachi brothers who committed them came from what is euphemistically called here a “sensitive urban zone” where radical Islamists fished for men; that they admired Mohamed Merah and Mehdi Nemmouche and wished to emulate them; that one was drawn into radical Islam in prison and both had spent time in Yemen; or that after finishing their work they would shout “Allahu akbar, we have avenged the Prophet! We killed Charlie!” Nor was it unthinkable that their friend Amedy Coulibaly, who had also embraced jihadism in prison, would attack a kosher grocery store and murder Jews in cold blood. What no one was prepared for was the fact that these young men had military weapons and flak jackets in a country with strict gun control; that their acts were loosely coordinated and that the brothers’ attack was apparently planned by al-Qaeda in Yemen; that they had been excellently trained and went about their business calmly and professionally; and that there may be many more like them lurking in French cities or on their way back from the killing fields of the Middle East.
The shock is that things are far worse than anyone had feared.