Tag Archives: satire

Stratfor: Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise

Geopolitical Diary
Courtesy, Stratfor Global Intelligence

THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2015 – 02:33 GMT
 
 
Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.

Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims.

While Western states go to great lengths to demonstrate that no such clash of civilizations is occurring, right-wing forces engage in rhetoric that reinforces these fears among many common Muslims across the world. More important, there is a longstanding conflict of values — particularly freedom of expression, which is cherished in the West but seen by many Muslims as a license for sacrilege. Though the vast majority of Muslims will not engage in violence in response to speech deemed as blasphemous, there are many who will. In Pakistan, the blasphemy law has been a subject of huge controversy. Many Pakistani citizens have been murdered by their fellow countrymen for speech or behavior deemed objectionable. At the root of this problem is the extreme discomfort many Muslims have with free expression, although this attitude is not universal. The person of the Prophet Mohammed is all the more sensitive because the traditional view is that he cannot be depicted pictorially, let alone in a satirical manner.

Ultimately, this is an intra-Muslim struggle for power and control wrapped in a debate over what it means to be a Muslim in today’s world and what the boundaries of justifiable action are. Defining those factors is one tool that can be used to gain power; attacks against the West and its interests, meant to force Westerners to pull out of Muslim lands or to attack Muslims and enforce the jihadist narrative, are another. This issue undermines efforts by moderate and progressive Muslims to advance the notion of freedoms based on an Islamic ethos.

The ongoing intra-Muslim debate gives extremists ample ideological and, by extension, geopolitical space to exploit. The jihadist enterprise deliberately targets non-Muslims, in particular the West, in part as a means to gain ground within the Muslim milieu. This strategy also sucks the Western world into what is essentially a Muslim civil war in order to tackle the security threats posed by Islamist militant actors.

However, Western involvement in this internal debate will not help defeat extremism or ease relations between Muslims and the West. The end of jihadism will come only when Muslims defeat their own deviants on the ideological battleground.
 
 
Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise is republished with permission of Stratfor.
 
 
 

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Our Shortest Interview Yet

Intrepid imahd.ca contributor Viz Bartolemy caught up with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outside a movie theatre in downtown Tehran as he left a private screening of the 3D Hollywood mega-blockbuster, Avatar.

Link to the Guardian's Iranian Laser Enrichment article

image: Rubeh Jadidoleslam/AP; link: Guardian.co.uk

imahd.ca: Mr. President, how did you like the movie?

M.A.: I am bound by a fatwa of the Imam not to enjoy such trivial pursuits, but only to study them, like a scientist who dissects small animals.

imahd.ca: I’m sorry to hear that. Was there at least something in the film that you didn’t find offensive or objectionable?

M.A.: I appreciated very much the way that a man–even a severely damaged man–can control not only the thoughts of another, but also that person’s actions. I am very familiar with this concept, but I felt that the director fell short of what he could have achieved. Imagine if one man could do this with a whole country — or even the world.

imahd.ca: How’s that?

M.A.: Um, nothing.

imahd.ca: Okay… well, what about the 3D effects? You often talk about the importance of scientific progress, so you must have found that aspect of the film interesting, from an engineering perspective.

M.A.: It is nothing. In Iran, everything is already in 3D. Look at this tree.

imahd.ca: Are you feeling okay, Mr. President? You look a little feverish. Too much popcorn?

M.A.: Popcorn is an American invention designed to sell more Coca-Cola beverages.

imahd.ca: No argument there, but tell me, is there a fatwa against snacking while watching forbidden films?

M.A.: Not at all. I myself had some delicious mushrooms that one of the young people was only too happy to share with me. That is the way of things in Iran — everyone is friendly. I don’t know why people keep asking me about human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. We don’t have that. I don’t know who keeps saying that we do.

imahd.ca: Very well, sir. Do you mind if I ask just a few more questions? Umm… Mr. President?

M.A.: Seriously, did you look at this tree? It’s like a hand with a million fingers reaching up to the sky…

imahd.ca: And a million more reaching down into the ground.

M.A.: Oh, whoa… man…

imahd.ca: Are you sure you’re okay, Mr. President? I mean, I can’t help but wonder if those mushrooms you had were strictly, you know… halal?

M.A.: Let me tell you something. Come close… shhh… [looks around] dude, they were the halalest!

imahd.ca: I see… Well, since you’re in such a fine mood, sir, how about a few more questions?

M.A.: Of course! We are friends. Everyone is our friend and we are everyone’s friend.

imahd.ca: Super. What about…

M.A.: Except for the Zionist Entity!

imahd.ca: Of course. Now, about that…

M.A.: And the United States of America! The Great Satan!!

imahd.ca: Certainly. Your position with respect to both of these countries has been made abundantly clear over the years. Is it true that three years ago you forecast the coming of the Mahdi within two years?

M.A.: This is a very common misperception you bring up because you, as an infidel–no offense–do not understand the way in which Mahdi-time works. Obviously, there is nothing to be gained by explaining it to you.

imahd.ca: Uh-huh… Would you care to comment on the anti-government protests that took place yesterday on Revolution Day?

M.A.: Again, I do not understand where you are obtaining such bad information… Hold on, please.

[Aside in Farsi]: Sayeed, go and see if you can find that boy who was sitting near us and ask him where his mother shops for vegetables.

Excuse me. You may continue.

imahd.ca: So, what about Israel? Isn’t it true that the renowned ancient Emperor of Iran, Cyrus the Great, not only gave leave to the Jews of his kingdom to rebuild their temple at Jerusalem, but that he also funded the venture?

M.A. [distracted]: Who? What? … Excuse me once more, please.

[Aside in Farsi]: Hafez! You look like a reject from the Syrian Olympic swim team. Take off those goggles immediately! And stop giggling–at once!

imahd.ca: Cyrus the Great…? The first Persian Emperor…? Okay… How about Darius the Great, Emperor of Persia at its historical apex, did he not affirm the decree of Cyrus with regard to the Jews, Jerusalem and their temple?

M.A.: Hafez, dude, you are so right! When I wear these outside I can see in 4D!

Hafez: Whoa… that must mean that you…can…

M.A.: …that I can…see…through time! [Visibly excited. High fives all ’round.]

Entourage [in unison]: Dude!

imahd.ca: Thanks, Mr. President, for your time. And, in case you’re interested, there’s a great dolma place right around the corner.

M.A.: Dolma! Yes! Everyone, goggles on… and march! Robotically!

imahd.ca: This is Viz Bartolemy reporting for imahd.ca.

M.A.: Are we not men?!

Entourage: We are Devo!!

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