Yesterday, a group of gunmen burst into the French Satirical Magazine Charlie Hebdo and killed atleast a dozen people.
The families of all those killed will be suffering right now and their pain can be easily felt and shared as a human connection (especially with others who have shared similar pain, especially through the chaos in the Muslim world).
Indiscriminate murder is wrong and against Islam.
If that is not enough of a statement for some who will question past acts of Charlie Hebdo, other news outlets have confirmed that some of those killed were actually friends of Muslims and fought against discrimination in France against Muslims and even supported Turkey joining the EU.
Due to the target, a lot of initial suspicion suggests that the attackers are muslims. A few years ago Charlie Hebdo had printed cartoons depicting the Prophet which Muslims around the world found offensive. It had also recently mocked ISIS leader Al Baghdadi.
This suspicion has strengthened by witnesses stting they had been told by the killers that they were part of Al Qaeda from the Yemen. Other reports had the attackers shouting "Allahu Akbar".
ISIS is in competition with the al qaeda linked groups so it in unlikely that the recent mocking of al baghdadi would have been the causes for the attackers, though generally those who have turned to violence have in the past been a lot more dim witted and often incompetent to the level that they have been unable to carry out their attacks.
A few other notables from the present attack is that the attackers were prepared, had body armour and according to some reports even managed to obtain a rocket launcher. There are questions about how such weaponry has been obtained and where they recieved training.
Suspects have been named, one of them having handed himself into the police. Others linked to the suspects have been arrested. It is likely that the attackers were muslims.
It is likely that the named suspect who handed himself into police was not involved as people have been coming forward stating that he was in a lecture with them at the time of the incident.
There will be a push in France (and maybe other parts of the world) seeking blood, for many this attack providing evidence of their pre-existing prejudices.
Some mosques and a kebab shop have already been attacked in acts of vengeance. If these continue to escalate, many innocents will suffer and Muslims who have already been ostracised and isolated by french society targetting Muslims for the past decade will feel even more targetted, causing even more isolation and paranoia that will be counterproductive.
If the French people give in, they will only help re-inforce the views fo extremists and help destroy any cohesion that exists.
French government actions of the recent past have not been positive steps for social cohesion and some of these may have helped already re-inforce the views of extremists who then can and do carry out acts of violence and senseless murder.
Self inflicted wounds
There will be much written about Charlie Hebdo as the target and about freedom of speech (hint: its not a european concept, but American) and the dangers of provocation and insult. I will not focus on them because the suspects are still suspects and without any formal statemetnt of their political goals, any attempt at analysis of them would be guess work at best.
I will comment instead on deeper issues in French society that can lead to isolation, paranoia, extremism and ultimately violence.
France could have been a great story for social cohesion. It was only a few years ago that the majority of the French national football team were Muslim. Zinedine Zidane could have been national heroes.
Instead the story of community cohesion is pretty poor and in the past decade there has been a massive campaign targetting immigrants and Muslims.
France always been a proud nation (to such an extent that in WW2 it wanted the first brigade of soldiers that entered Paris after liberation to be white french soldiers and not soldiers of colour, which made up large parts of their colonial army) and the supremacists have always made life harder by targetting those are not the white majority.
This has meant passing laws banning headscarves in classrooms, banning veils in public and preventing mothers who wore headscarves from participating in civic society by preventing them from eg minding children on school trips.
All of this has helped in creating isolation, paranoia and seeking fellow citizens as part of the "other", either as the oppressor or the bogeyman.
These events that have hurt all of France. While I hope that instead of seeking vengeance, doors are opened and past actions causing separation, isolation and paranoia are reconsidered, that is the harder more difficult path to follow when people are in pain and events since the killings have shown that atleast some want revenge.