There has been a terrible and odious attack in Paris. Virtually all over the world, in democratic countries, among populations feeling close to the ideals of liberty and democracy, a very large support movement has taken place. Mostly independent of political parties and movements, there has been a responsible reaction on the part of many people around the world.
Political leaders in France, starting with President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, have been extremely cautious in differentiating the terrorist act from the overtly stated objective of the terrorists, namely the revenge in the name of the prophet.
Valls declared yesterday very clearly that France was at war against terrorism and certainly not against a religion. There is a healthy reaction in France and in many European cities and capitals against the attacks. Vast popular and spontaneous gatherings have been taking place to condemn terrorism. Muslim populations in Europe have also taken an unequivocal stance in condemning this atrocity.
As I have already had the opportunity to elaborate in a precedent article, the threat is a wave of terror surging into democratic countries. While writing this article, I had the opportunity to follow a hostage taking in the north of Paris by the perpetrators of Charlie Hebdo attack. The very elite corps of the French Gendarmerie has encircled a small printing factory where the two terrorists were holding some workers hostage. Hollande was personally in charge of the conduct of the operation. A few hours later, a second hostage taking event took place, this time within Paris itself. A gunman stormed into a kosher supermarket in Vincennes in the eastern suburbs of Paris and took customers hostage. The police responded immediately and circled the shop. It has been more or less obvious that the second hostage taking was the deed of a lone gunman, who two days before, shot and killed a very young municipal policewoman in Paris.
Nobody knows whether the two attacks are related. This seems improbable, however, for the French public this is certainly a very testing, difficult and terrible period. This also shows how accurate it is to underline that terror is the true enemy. Terrorist amalgamation of Islam, anti-Semitism and disdain for human life is evident in both cases.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a very important and very sincere message for France. He said: "On this occasion, we would like to stress that terrorism has no religion or nationality and no excuse can be given for it. It is of crucial importance that we have a common stance against terrorist attacks such as the one in Paris today. We have to take a firm stance against hate speech, intolerance to differences and attempts to present religious and cultural differences as ground for enmity."
This is a very just position and the fact that the French president and all the representatives of democratic nations and regimes have been sharing the same sentiment is a very positive development for international cooperation against terror in all its forms.
France is a big, beautiful and mature democratic country. It has succeeded in a very large measure to smoothly integrate all its population of different faiths including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and atheists together in a pluralist society. They are all French citizens and proud to be. The example of the brave French policeman, Ahmed Merabed, who was killed while trying to protect the Charlie Hebdo building, was a Muslim and a French police officer. He lost his life to protect the freedom of expression of his fellow countrymen. That is why democracy will win against any terrorist threat.