Reverse swing: What Paris tells us

It hardly needs stating, also, that the Islamist terrorists are as brutal to those Muslims who aren’t of a hardline Salafi creed as they are to non-Muslim infidels.

Written by Tunku Varadarajan | Updated: November 22, 2015 8:17 am
Islamist terrorists, new york attack, 2001 new york attack, 9/11 attacks, september attack, new york attack, paris attacks, ISIS, islamic state, IS You’ll see that I used the phrase “Islamist terrorists” three times in the sentence preceding that last fragment of bloodied place-names.

New York: I despair for the world my children will inherit and am in fear of a future that can only get more harrowing. I write this column IN a city that was attacked by Islamist terrorists 14 years ago, ABOUT a city that was attacked by Islamist terrorists just a week ago, FOR readers with vivid personal memories of an attack by Islamist terrorists seven years ago.

New York, Paris, Mumbai.

You’ll see that I used the phrase “Islamist terrorists” three times in the sentence preceding that last fragment of bloodied place-names. It is a phrase that few mainstream Western politicians — and many, even, in India — can bring themselves to utter.

So we are at war with Islamist foes who slaughter people in public spaces — who target innocents with guns and bombs, in skyscrapers, concert halls, airplanes, hotels, restaurants, bars, railway stations, buses, and football stadiums — and yet we cannot even bring ourselves to name them accurately, choosing instead from a menu of euphemisms that veil the true nature of our murderers, who, we are told, aren’t “true Muslims”, and whose religion is, in fact, a sprawling manifesto for peace in the world; and in any case, we say to ourselves (or are asked by those enablers of Islamist terrorism who refuse to ask hard questions about the extreme branches of their own faith), “What about all the Christians and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists who kill, and have killed, in the name of religion?”

Without lurching down that cul-de-sac of sophistry, let me state that the world faces a monumentally greater threat today from the adherents of Islam than it does from the followers of any other religion — or from any cult of any kind, barring, perhaps, the Cult of Kim in North Korea; and even that lot doesn’t send footsoldiers into our cities to murder us as we eat and breathe and love each other.

It hardly needs stating, also, that the Islamist terrorists are as brutal to those Muslims who aren’t of a hardline Salafi creed as they are to non-Muslim infidels. Turn your gaze to neighbouring Pakistan or Afghanistan, or Nigeria or Mali, or the territory under the control of the Islamic State, and you will see a running horror-show of slaughter, each episode more disgusting and stomach-churning than the last.

The West — Europe, in particular —is in a terrifying bind, for it has living in its midst substantial populations of Muslims, the majority of whom are poorly integrated into Western society. And by integration I don’t simply mean a case of Abdul or Cherif or Aicha getting up every morning to go to work with other citizens of Belgium or France or Denmark, but an embracing of the civic and social and constitutional values of these countries — what might, by useful shorthand, be called the Western “way of life”.

To the extent that we have the full facts, we know that every single perpetrator of the carnage in Paris was home-grown. That is a chilling fact (and phrase), conjuring visions of a venom that eats away at the body-politic, with echoes of a cancer in the human body. The fault, I fear, is that of Europe’s elites. For decades, they ignored — and even actively worked against — integration, scorning it as unfashionable, old-fangled, and, worst of all, racist. Is OurWay, they asked, with impressively self-destructive hubris, really better than Their Way?

That question now has an answer. It’s an answer the West must live and, increasingly, die with.

The writer is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and tweets @tunkuv

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  1. A
    Asokan
    Nov 22, 2015 at 5:28 am
    spot on.
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    1. V
      Vish
      Nov 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm
      The rich and influential among the Muslims have used their religion's edicts against kafirs very successfully, and have clouded the muddled thinking of average Muslims, and tricked the poor and middle cl Muslims to stake their lives, while vetting their appee with talk of virgins after death, justified rape of unbelievers etc. these bloody rich and powerful remain scot-free. Whilst, in other lands, the poor, peasants and middle cl have fought and gained ascendancy.
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      1. K
        K SHESHU
        Nov 22, 2015 at 7:55 am
        The present situation is the culmination of western policies and they are reaping the harvest! They have brought the calamity upon themselves by nourishing the fundementalists decades ago to counter Russia. When they started pering the Arab countries for oil, the same fundementalists began retaliating. The animosity has reached almost a point of no return sans a miracle!!!
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          anand-m
          Nov 22, 2015 at 9:57 am
          I am amazed at to how short lived your (and that of most other readers) is. The entire discussion is hypocritical and, as usual, the West thinks only of tackling the symptoms and not the cause. This cause basically goes back over a century, when western powers "carved out"the current countries in Arabia and Africa to suit their own interests. No regard was given to cultural and other factors. At that time, and even today, nobody in the West was bothered about allowing the Arabs and Africans their right to live their life the way they thought fit. Instead, Arabs and Africans were decimated, their resources stolen and, after their so-called "Independence", small states were carved out of this resource-rich continent that were governed by puppet governments who served western interests. If such a government did not toe the line, it was replaced - a dictatorship by a "democracy" (see Irak)or a democracy by a dictatorship (see Iran). Today, after Paris, the West holds its values and "way of life" high - what about the values and way of life of other cultures? The greed and selfishness of the West is what is forcing the Somalis into piracy, the Touareg into rebellion - in the former case, because huge fishing trawlers are basically robbing the Somalis of their sustenance; in the latter, because French uranium mining is killing not only the Touareg cattle, but also the nomads themselves. It is the greed of Western oil companies that has turned Nigeria into a wasteland. The list is endless. As one of the Readers rightly commented - this "terrorism" is the result of Western policies. To that I would add Western greed, ignorance and outright stupidity!
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          1. S
            SK
            Nov 23, 2015 at 4:05 am
            It is pity that still some politicians in west are hesitant to say Islamists are responsible for terror in the world. US and France have not criticized Saudi Arabia who finances terrorism all over the world because they both sell lot of arms to it. Every Muslim is not a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim today. Is ISIS not Muslims, fis and Wahabis . Republicans in US are waking up ,Donald Trump is getting lot of following because ,the people in the west are beginning to see the reality of Islam.
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