France will perceive the terrorist attack against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, one of its journalistic institutions, as Americans perceived 9/11. Islamic terrorists targeted the heart of freedom of expression in France. In recent years, French mainstream media became rather careful on how to report on Islam hoping not to insult its leaders. However, satirical media showed more courage. Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were spot-on. The most recent headlined: ‘Still no terrorist attacks in France’ while showing a terrorist replying: ‘We still have until the end of January to present our best wishes’. Charb, the cartoonist, was among the 12 people killed.
For a long time West-European leaders hoped that Islamic terrorism could be appeased by political correct, ‘non-provocative’ attitudes and social programs. Politicians filtered their words with care and official media pursued a policy of self-restraint. But in European societies the undercurrent of Islamic radicalism kept on brewing unabatedly. Political correctness provided only a façade of stability, invoking words like ‘tolerance’ and ‘multiculturalism’.
At the end of May, a Jihadist who had returned from Syria walked into the Jewish Museum in Brussels and killed three people, among them a visiting couple from Israel. The attack took place on the day of Belgian and European elections. Political leaders expressed their dismay but hoped the atrocity would remain to be an ‘exceptional case’.
What they didn’t want to see was the terrorist potential of radicalized Muslims; born in Europe and leaving for Syria to join the Islamic State. Initially, many politicians greeted their departure because these social security recipients would not be a burden at home anymore. Intelligence services lost sight of them. Worries only emerged as the number of Jihadists continued increasing, into hundreds and thousands.