Is Terrorism making Europe close its doors to Immigrants (Charlie Hebdo)

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The recent terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French magazine,  shows that intolerance is taking root in the very same continent which bequeathed to the world the concept of tolerance.

Terrorism returned to attack Europe when gunmen stormed the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including police and magazine staff members. The dead included the director of the publication, Stephane Charbonnier, known as “Charb” and members of the cream of French cartooning, as Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (“Cabu”) and Bernard Verlhac (“Tignous”).

Eyewitness reports indicate that Islamic radicalism would be by behind the attack. In fact, the Charlie Hebdo was already in Muslim extremism of sight for many years. The magazine, left and clearly anti-religious, had been publishing cartoons that were critical not only to Islam, but a number of other religions, and has been targeted on other occasions.

The causes are not superficial

When terrorism reached  Europe, we must deeply reflect on the causes and possible consequences of what happened yesterday  Paris. Even if, hypothetically, the Charlie Hebdo has, at some point, abused the right to freedom of expression – a subject that fits not discuss at this point – the absurd and unjustifiable violent reaction against those responsible for the magazine further demonstrates that intolerance is taking root in the very same continent which bequeathed to the world the concept of tolerance, learned the hard way after decades of religious conflict in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Intolerance all around

More dramatic still is the realization that small extremist groups have just taken advantage of this concept to be accepted in Western countries, and only then reveal their inability to admit differences of opinion or worship, establishing “reserved areas” where democratic freedoms are no longer applicable and you must follow the specific rules of that group, although that conflict with the laws of the nation where it is installed. It is a paradox with which the world has not learned to cope.

Intolerance is about to come

The risk that is now presented is that the European response to intolerance is more intolerance or discrimination, either by the defeat of individual liberties. Late last year, about 30 thousand people took to the streets in several German cities, especially Dresden to protest against what they consider the “Islamization of the West.” The demonstration was rejected by the German government, by various authorities and other tens of thousands of people, who organized strikes across the country, but it is still difficult to predict whether The France attack can change the perception of Europeans on the delicate issue of the relationship with Muslims who live on the mainland, especially those pushing for the right to apply the sharia in their communities.

Discrimination also manifests itself in risk, which is not small, of a witch hunt along the lines of the post-September 11, in which people with names and Arab features were treated as suspicious until proven otherwise.

Other risks are also imminent

In addition to discrimination, there is another risk that affects everyone, not just members of an ethnic or religious group: the temptation to extrapolate the necessary measures to curb terrorism and end up suppressing other freedoms in the name of that fight. After all, it is under the pretext of “protecting society” that arise, for example, large spy schemes and monitoring as denounced by Edward Snowden in the United States. These attitudes make it evident another paradox. Terror is led by the disrespect for others’ rights – including the most fundamental of them, the right to life. However, if the response to terrorism take an entire society to live without individual freedoms, the state itself has laid down the methods of those who say combat – in other words, terrorism will have won.

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