Paris has been the scene of a totally shocking, bloody, terrible terror attack. The details are not known in their entirety, but it is known that three masked gunmen stormed the offices of the well-known French satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo. They immediately opened fire, killing two policemen at the entrance and ten more people working in the building including journalists and designers. Four more people were very severely injured and the killers fled in a car knocking over one pedestrian.
This is a huge trauma for the French people and the government. Charlie Hebdo started as an offspring of the May 1968 revolts and changes in France, together with Hara Kiri magazine. Their humor is insolent, whimsical, striking and knows no limits. They have been mocking all religions, churches and beliefs for the last 50 years. Nobody, no public figure has ever escaped their corrosive humor and they have been threatened so often that their building was under constant protection. However, a couple of weeks ago, the managers of the weekly decided that there was no immediate menace for the building and police forces constantly guarding the entrance were removed in a joint agreement between the security officers and the weekly. There was only one journalist under anonymous threats whose bodyguards stayed. These were the two policemen killed at the entrance.
There is an almost tangible attempt to ignite large scale confessional and religious strife in European democracies and Turkey. The target, Charlie Hebdo, is known for its totally unbridled satirical approach and is a chosen victim to ignite a very harsh anti-Islam reaction in a society already with many social challenges disguised as confessional problems. A few months ago, a Muslim French citizen stormed the Holocaust Museum in Belgium and killed four in cold blood. He was apprehended almost by coincidence in France and turned out to be a terrorist trained for a time among the radical movements in Syria. Such people are easy to manipulate - either they are marginalized in society due to their ineptitude to integrate into life or they have serious psychological problems, or both. Among migrant populations of second or third generations, there is a higher percentage of social exclusion. Religious appurtenance can be used as a very efficient tool to lure such people to terrorist organizations. Their number is very limited, we cannot talk about a real social strife, but one does not need to have a very large social base to structure an illegal armed organization and foment terrible, inhuman attacks such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
This is a political war waged against democratic governments using a very dangerous weapon - religious belief. This cannot be seen as an isolated event, there have been a series of murders and attacks all over the region from Brussels to Istanbul and from Paris to Cizre, which remain unexplained. Democracies in the EU and Turkey are in a position where a very deep and structured collaboration is imperative. There should also be an unequivocal attitude regarding the condemnation of any terrorist attack as a means to promote any political message.
The situation was already tense, but now it is turning into a full-fledged tragedy. France is at war against terrorism. So are Belgium, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece and the U.K. Big problems ask for common, strong responses. The Charlie Hebdo massacre should be evaluated to its real depth, an attack against democratic values and an attempt to create anti-Islam sentiments in European societies and should be fought against with a common will.