Tag Archives: Charlie Hebdo

PARIS – THE NEW NORMAL

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. At least 35 people were killed in shootings and explosions around Paris, many of them in a popular theater where patrons were taken hostage, police and medical officials said Friday. Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris.  Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Whether we like to admit it or not, what happened in Paris on Friday could happen in any western city at any time.   In fact, it certainly will.

For once, we’ve been spared statements from the Presidents of France and the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to the effect that “Islam is a religion of peace.”  It’s now too much to expect anybody to believe such an outrageous claim.   Millions of people on social media witnessed Muslims around the globe celebrating the carnage in Paris.  Noticeably absent after yesterday’s attacks was any condemnation from “moderate” Muslim clerics.

129 people were killed and 352 injured, 99 of them critically, meaning they could still die or will be maimed for life.   Not all were French.   This was Paris on a Friday night – a lot of tourists from different countries will be amongst the casualties.   British Prime Minister David Cameron told fellow countrymen they could expect British victims.

One television news commentator observed “they are getting better at this,” listing a number of recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS — Libya, Tunisia, the Russian  plane blown up over Sinai just two weeks ago, Beirut on Thursday and Paris on Friday.  Not just better, more frequent, too. Mr. Cameron called a security meeting Saturday morning – London could easily be next.  President Obama did the same in Washington, faced with the sobering realization that US cities could be the next target.   The attacks on the French capital followed an assurance from the US president that ISIS has been contained.

The reality is that ISIS is spreading, its ability to stage terror attacks now reaching around the world.   Big attacks and small ones, like the “lone wolf” who stabbed four students at a university in San Diego just a few days ago.

Western intelligence services are, understandably, overwhelmed. The French intelligence service did not see Friday’s attacks coming. Six attacks may be thwarted, maybe more, but eventually one will succeed.   Little can be done if western countries are to continue to enjoy the freedoms that have been acquired over hundreds of years.

“Snowden has a lot of this blood on his hands”, said US Ambassador R. James Woolsey on Fox News Saturday.   Ambassador Woolsey is a former Director of the CIA and is now Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.   He was talking about the damage that Edward Snowden did to western intelligence when he went public with a massive amount of intelligence.  This betrayal could be fatal to western interests at a time when the very survival of the West is at stake.

A friend in another state called me recently.  At some point we got onto the subject of world affairs and Bible prophecy.  He made the comment that “nothing seems to be happening in Europe at this time.”   This comment was made before yesterday’s events.  I expressed the opinion that a great deal was happening in Europe.   The massive influx of refugees and asylum-seekers is radically changing the social fabric of European countries.  Nations are losing their individual unique identity, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa pour in.

One of these, carrying a Syrian passport, was one of Friday’s attackers.  Other attackers included some who were born and raised in France and went to Syria to train with ISIS, returning to their home country to stage acts of terror.   Their loyalty to their Islamic beliefs trumped everything else.

Expect more of the same.  After forty years of division between East and West, Europe’s brief interlude of peace accompanied by great strides toward “an ever closer union,” has now become the battleground between North and South, between the European Union and Islam, between democracies and failed states.

Not all the refugees who arrive in Europe are Muslims.   The three biggest numbers of people come from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, all Muslim countries that are racked with internal sectarian divisions, corruption and despotism.   Others come from democracies like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, seeking a better life and the welfare benefits European governments will give them.

It’s no wonder that David Cameron wants to end the system, but cannot do so within the strictures of the EU.   A few days ago, he published the four demands he is making of the EU.   If the EU can’t deliver, then he will recommend the United Kingdom leaves the 28-nation grouping.   One of his demands is that the free movement of people within the EU be ended and that no new arrivals in Britain from the EU should be entitled to welfare benefits for the first four years.   They would have to work first before they could receive anything.   British papers are claiming that 43% of new European arrivals are receiving benefits.   This amounts to 350 million pounds per week ($530 million), during a period of austerity imposed on the British people.

In addition, there’s the hundreds of thousands from outside the EU, from the Mideast and Africa.   All these arrivals are supported financially by UK tax-payers.   Inevitably, some will be agents of ISIS.

No western leaders show any sign of doing anything about this massive influx of potential terrorists.

After the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s President, marched arm in arm through Paris in defense of western freedoms.   A few months later, Mrs. Merkel led European governments to open their doors to refugees and asylum seekers.   Germany itself is taking in one million people this year.

This can only mean one thing – there will be more terrorist attacks like those yesterday.

As Daniel Pipes observed, each terrorist attack results in the common people moving to the Right politically, while the Establishment moves to the political Left.   (“Why the Paris massacre will have limited impact.” Nationalreview online, November 14th).   Mr. Pipes’ article also pointed out that the number of terrorist attacks by Islamists, since 9/11, is now 27, 269.   The figure was compiled by an organization called “TheReligionofPeace.com.”   Put another way, that’s five attacks per day.

It’s not surprising France’s President Hollande described Friday’s attacks as “an act of war” from ISIS.

All of this does not absolve the West of its responsibility.   “In an official statement claiming responsibility, ISIS carefully listed its targets, couching its choice as one determined by its moral and theocratic superiority.  Paris, it said, was a capital of “abominations and perversion.”   (“Paris attacks:  Bloody atrocity signals shift in ISIS strategy,” Financial Times, November 14th.)   The Christian Holy Book, the Bible, says that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).   In the same book, God warned the ancient Israelites that disobedience to God and His Laws would result in terror coming upon the nation (Deuteronomy 28:66):   “and you shall be in terror day and night and shall be afraid of your life”  (Darby Bible Translation).   Western countries need to examine themselves in the light of these verses – changes can be made that would result in less hostility toward the West.

Paris is the new normal.

Advertisements

NETANYAHU’S ADDRESS HIGHLIGHTS DIVISIONS OVER ISLAMIC MILITANTS

Netanyahu

Prior to 9/11, most Americans were barely aware of the religion of Islam.

In the short time since that tragic day, Islam has established its presence in the country with mosques and schools in every sizeable community.   The president of the United States has even said that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles.

One thing the religion has done is divide the country and other nations where there has been widespread immigration from Muslim lands, mostly in the Middle East.

At no time has that division been greater than now.

In France, it was the Charlie Hebdo killings that caused the division, between those on the right of the political spectrum who want an end to Islamization and the immigrants themselves, supported by those on the left who side with them.

In Germany, there is PEGIDA staging weekly demonstrations against the Islamization of Europe.   Critical of PEGIDA are the established political parties who bend over backwards to assure Muslims that there is a place for them in their societies.

Now division has come to the United States with the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Some would say the division is over Israel.   But the divide is also over how best to handle militant Islam.

The gulf between the two became clearer today when the Prime Minister addressed the US Congress in Washington.

The invitation to speak came from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The White House made it clear that it was opposed to Netanyahu speaking, claiming it was a breach of protocol so close to the Israel election.

Although most Democrats did listen to the speech, Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, was very critical almost immediately afterwards, claiming she was “near tears” throughout the speech and “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.” She was reportedly visibly agitated while Mr. Netanyahu was speaking.

The subject of the speech was Iran and the imminent deal between western allies with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program.   The deadline for this agreement is March 31st.   Mr. Netanyahu believes that the impending agreement will make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons – and soon.

The division is clear – and not just over Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The division is between those who see a serious threat from militant Islam and those who are in denial.   Iran is not the only threat but it was the focus of the prime minister’s address.   Iran with a nuclear weapon could annihilate Israel, a small country and near neighbor.   Indeed, Iran has threatened to annihilate “the world’s only Jewish state.”

The prime minister reminded his audience of the story of Esther, the Jewish queen married to a Persian king in the fifth century BC.   The Persian king at the time wanted to annihilate the Jews, just as today’s Iranian leadership does.   Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 4th) is the Feast of Purim, which commemorates the delivery of the Jews from total disaster.

More recently, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy said:  “If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down all over the world.”

Although Iran is not an Arab country and has traditionally been isolated as the only major Shi’ite Islamic nation, today it dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a.   Mr. Netanyahu referenced Iran’s support against Sunni Islamic ISIS, claiming that their support against ISIS does not make them a friend of America.   It’s a case of “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!”

“Both ISIS and Iran want to impose a militant Islamic empire,” he warned.

“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam and nuclear weapons.”   This clearly would change everything in the Middle East and the wider world beyond.

Mr. Netanyahu’s address was impassioned.   We have not heard such a powerful speech from a politician in many years.   It is particularly impressive when we consider that English is not his first language.   Mr. Netanyahu and former British statesman Sir Winston Churchill are the only two world leaders who have addressed Congress on three occasions.   Following the speech, Netanyahu was compared on at least two news channels to Churchill, who spent the 1930’s warning of the impending threat from the Nazis, as Netanyahu warns of the increasing threat from militant Islam.   If the world had heeded Churchill, the Holocaust would not have happened. If the world listens to Netanyahu, a future holocaust may be averted.

Students of the Bible know that Jerusalem, Israel’s “eternal capital” will be the focus of major conflict in the near future.

The Old Testament prophet Zechariah, writing about events leading up to the Second Coming of the Messiah, prophesied that Jerusalem and Judah (Israel) will be at the center of the final conflict to confront mankind.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.   And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”  (Zech 12:2-3.)

Zechariah 14:2 adds:   “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.”

Centuries later, Jesus Christ, answering a question about the “signs of His Coming,” said:   “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”

Mr. Netanyahu was right when he pointed out that “we share a common destiny.”   What happens over there will affect us over here – and all countries in between.

The day before he addressed the US Congress, Mr. Netanyahu spoke to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States.   He said then that, whereas the President of the United States spends every day thinking about America’s security, as Israel’s prime minister, he spends every day thinking of Israel’s survival.

In that one sentence, he encapsulated the difference between the leaders of the two nations.   At the present time, militant Islam is a matter of national security to the United States.  If Mr. Netanyahu’s warning is not taken seriously, it could soon become a matter of national survival, as it is in Israel.

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS SPREADS

Young Islam on Trek

President Erdogan of Turkey used the term “clash of civilizations” to describe the growing divide between Islamic nations and the West, following the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket in Paris.

NBC’s Richard Engel used the same term Monday evening in a news report focused on the ten Muslim countries that witnessed demonstrations and riots over the weekend.   They were angry over Charlie Hebdo’s caricature of the prophet Mohammed on its cover this week.

In the West, people are showing their support for freedom of speech and of the press.   Muslims, on the other hand, are opposed to any image of their prophet, as this is considered a sin and an insult to Islam.   There is no narrowing the gap!

Amongst the countries that witnessed demonstrations over the weekend were Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya (ruled by Russia), Pakistan and Niger, north of Nigeria.   In the latter, churches were set alight with people in them.

It was university professor Samuel P. Huntington who first popularized the term “clash of civilizations” in his book on the subject, published in 1996.   Prior to that the term had been used by Huntington in a lecture to the American Enterprise Institute and earlier by Middle East expert Bernard Lewis.   In fact, usage goes back as far as 1926, when Basil Matthews wrote “Young Islam on trek: a study in the clash of civilizations.”

When we consider the term goes back almost a century, we can realize that the concept is not a new one.   What makes it more urgent and serious is that the number of Muslims in the world is increasing rapidly while the number of Christians isn’t.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, roughly 25 % of the total number of people.   Of greater significance is that 62% are under the age of 30.   This is the recruiting pool for ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist factions.   The problem of Islamic terrorism is only going to worsen.

The clash of civilizations is partly due to ignorance. People in the West are lacking in knowledge when it comes to Islam but Muslims are ignorant of Western history and culture and do not understand how long it took to gain freedom of speech and how it is a fundamental component of western culture.

Leaders of western countries seem bewildered and do not understand how to tackle this problem.   Most leaders are of the 60’s generation that believed religion was something in the past, of little relevance today.   They have been proved wrong – but don’t know how to adjust their thinking.

Ordinary citizens seem to have a better grasp on reality, experiencing the clash of civilizations first hand with their neighbors, colleagues at work, people in stores and on the streets.   There is a widening gap between the elites and the people, which could presage dramatic changes this year as elections are held in a number of European countries.   Populist parties are gaining strength and will likely continue to do so with each terrorist attack.

Although the Bible does not use the term “clash of civilizations,” a coming clash between two major powers is prophesied in Daniel 11:40.   These powers are called “the king of the south” and the “king of the north,” two powers who are situated south and north of Jerusalem.   Conflict arises when the “king of the south” attacks the “king of the north.”   One translation uses the term “pushes”.   What we are seeing now with repeated terror attacks by Muslims in Europe could just be the beginning of this clash.   The question is: at what point will the European nations hit back?

 

 

OUR CONTRIBUTION TO TERRORISM

Bin_Laden_Poster2

Shortly after September 11th, 2001, I was visiting Ghana in West Africa.

I remember being stuck in a traffic jam with a fellow minister, observing all that was going on around us.   The streets in African countries are always full of people.   At the side of the road, there are stalls selling everything you can imagine.

At one stall on this particular visit was a rather large painting of Osama bin Laden. It must have been 4 feet tall. I turned to my friend and asked him why it was for sale.

Ghana’s Muslim population is about 14% of its total. Most Muslims live in the north and we were on the south coast.

He explained to me that people feel America is trying to take over the world and that Osama bin Laden will stop them.   I was rather taken aback by this remark.

I was shocked on future visits to see many pictures of OBL in Christian homes.

He had clearly made a positive impression on many people.   I also remember seeing a popular calendar on peoples’ walls showing people jumping out of the twin towers. Why would anybody want to be reminded? They were, in fact, celebrating a humiliating defeat for the most powerful country in the world.

My friend’s explanation interested me. Why do people think America is trying to take over the world?

The answer lies in America’s cultural pervasiveness, from the style of clothes to the type of movies and television programs we produce, the music, the attitudes and the language.

I also remember an incident on another visit. We had stopped for refreshments halfway from Kumasi to Accra, a five-hour journey. A vehicle pulled up next to us. A number of people got out. They all seemed to be Ghanaians. Then we heard the most awful language. Every sentence included at least one four-letter word. A Ghanaian minister leaned over and said they had all been in America.   Ghanaians frown on the use of the “F” word – any Ghanaian using it is likely to have spent some time in America. That’s the perception, at least, and perception is reality.

In another memorable incident, I was asked why Americans allow their children to talk back to them. I asked the individual what made him think this was the case. He replied that he had seen it many times on American TV shows.

American television shows are shown all over the world. I should elaborate and say that the worst American TV shows are shown everywhere. Jerry Springer fills the airwaves. Violence (“Action!”) is preferred over sex.   And we certainly have a lot of violent shows for export. Is there any wonder that we are seen as a violent country? America’s wars seem like an extension of that violence.

Thinking about the events of the last ten days, the terrorist attacks in Paris and subsequent events, we need to ask ourselves: How much have we in the West contributed to the present situation?   Nothing could possibly condone acts of terrorism but we may be inadvertently contributing to it.

Second generation Muslim immigrants are, in far too many cases, turning to extremism. Could this be their way of dealing with the daily contradiction that is their lives – trying to reconcile a strict religious upbringing with the degeneration they see around them?

President Erdogan of Turkey warned today of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.   Many Muslims already see themselves as being in a war against “Christianity,” not realizing how unchristian the West has become.

Islam has very different values to those of the secular West. Muslims are deeply offended by the content of entertainment emanating from the West. Yes, they could turn their television sets off, just as they can refuse to buy copies of Charlie Hebdo with a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

But we could also stop producing trash! Sadly, in the world of entertainment, there’s little money to be made by adhering to the words of the Apostle Paul. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8)

There was a time when America was highly respected around the world. At that time, the country was more Christian with a population living more in accordance with the scriptures, though not perfect by any means.   Today, the US flaunts its immorality, especially in its entertainment.

The US and, indeed, the whole western world, would be wise to remember the words found in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

GERMANY’S FAR-RIGHT ON THE MARCH

Pegida rally

The Independent is a British newspaper that is left of center on the political spectrum.   But it has some very good, perceptive writing on international developments.

Today’s paper includes an article from Germany that carries the following two headlines:

“Germany’s far-right on the march: Anti-Islamic movement attracts thousands as violence and xenophobia increase in wake of Paris attacks.”

A second headline reads: “Pegida movement’s marches attract thousands as hatred of Islam and immigrants sweeps across Germany in the wake of Paris attacks.”

The Paris terror attacks could turn out to be a significant moment in history. It’s given re-birth to European nationalism in both France and Germany.   Yesterday showed clearly that French citizens are determined to preserve their freedom of speech, even if this upsets the five million Muslims in their midst.   Charlie Hebdo has already sold five million copies with its cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.  The normal weekly sale is 60,000. More copies are being printed.  People were selling this week’s issue for as much as $760 on E-bay. One seller is asking for $7,500.

It’s also clear that leaders are out of touch with their people.   The French president and the German and British prime ministers are still defending the illusions of multiculturalism and assimilation.

France’s President Hollande said today that France “will protect all religions“ adding that “Islam is compatible with democracy,” yet all the evidence supports the opposite conclusion. How can Islam be compatible with democracy when it kills people for drawing cartoons?   How can assimilation work when immigrants from North Africa want to impose their own culture on the French rather than taking on the culture of their new country?

A major rethink is needed.   The policies of the last few decades are clearly not working in Western countries.   No country can be complacent here – the whole western world is vulnerable.

Democracy is clearly not compatible with Islam. The first is based on individualism, the latter on submission.   The aftermath of the Arab Spring underscored the total incompatibility of Islam and democracy.

Democracy may also have a problem coping with the new far-right groups that have gained considerable support following the terror attacks in Paris.   Pegida’s anti-Islam marches have brought back disturbing images of the 1930’s.

Even in England, where democracy survived through World War II, British Prime Minister David Cameron has bowed out of a televised electoral debate with other party leaders.  His list of the six greatest challenges facing Britain at this time does not include immigration.   He simply does not want to discuss it, particularly with UKIP’s Nigel Farage who will be participating in the debate.

If democratic governments do not address the very real fears of their electorates, democracy itself will be at stake.

PARISIAN AFTERMATH

hebdo

It really is a dialog of the deaf!

I’ve just been listening to a discussion on the World Service of the BBC.   The program was Newshour, one hour of serious world news, the best available.

The discussion was about the cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo satirical paper.   Only last week ten members of staff, including four cartoonists and the managing editor, were all killed when terrorists invaded their office. Their motive was revenge, to kill those who had insulted the prophet Mohammed by depicting him in their paper.

In defiance, the paper’s staff, now temporarily housed in the offices of Liberation, refusing to be intimidated, have again depicted the prophet on their front page, holding up a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).   Interestingly, not one of the 200 members of staff of Liberation disagreed with the decision to house those from Charlie Hebdo, even though they clearly endanger themselves.

The BBC presenter was interviewing two female journalists, one a practicing Muslim of Algerian origin and the other a journalist with Liberation.

The Muslim explained to the BBC’s worldwide audience how deeply offensive the cartoon is, that it is, in Islam, blasphemy.   The other journalist countered by explaining that France has freedom of speech and that they are expressing their highly valued freedom.

What was particularly interesting to me was the Muslim saying she is deeply committed to freedom of speech but that does not extend to insulting somebody else’s religion.

It reminded me of a segment on the same program two or three years ago following the Arab Spring, a period of time when western countries thought they were witnessing the flowering of western style freedom in the Arab world. The interviewer then was talking to Tunisians who were anticipating democracy in their country.   They were asked a number of questions and gave the same responses as most people in the West would give.

That is, until the interviewer asked if their vision of democracy extended to allowing people to choose their own religion.

That was a definite no-no.   Nobody could ever renounce Islam

A huge gulf separates western thinking, which is based on individual freedom, and Islam, which means “submission.” They are two opposites.

This is not only a dialog of the deaf; it is also a clash of civilizations.

_________________________________________________________________

The clash between these two worlds is going to be the defining conflict of our age, just as the Cold War was for over forty years.

Tom Rogan, a writer for National Review and an expert on Islamic terror groups, said on the latest McLaughlin Group that there are three types of terrorists now operating in the West.

One group is the al-Qaeda operatives, who have been around for about twenty years.

Secondly, we have those returning to the countries of their birth, from Syria and Iraq.   They have been trained for conflict and encouraged to stage terror attacks in their home countries similar to what we saw in Paris last week.   All western countries should expect to see a surge in such attacks in the foreseeable future.

The third group is made up of those influenced by “YouTube.”   These are often the lone wolfs we saw recently in Ottawa, Sydney, and New York. They keep an eye on terrorist websites, which encourage them to stage terror attacks, especially on police, security personnel, and government buildings.

Mr. Rogan predicted that we will see more attacks this year.

__________________________________________________________________

While we are on the subject of terrorism, it should be noted that while the world’s attention was on the 17 deaths in Paris, an estimated 2,000 died in NE Nigeria when Boko Haram attacked a small town. Most of those killed were women, children and the elderly who could not run fast enough to escape from the terrorists.

The BBC has not been able to verify the figure because it is impossible for anybody to get nearer than 200 kilometers to the area. Boko Haram also destroyed the cell phone tower in the town, so that nobody living there has been able to communicate.

People who escaped ran to the nearest big city of Maiduguri. All told the same story of countless numbers of dead within and outside of the town.

A few days later, in the same region of Nigeria, a ten-year old girl, used by Boko Haram as a suicide bomber, blew up a market, killing twenty people.

It’s not surprising that the local archbishop has called on the US and other western countries to intervene to save the people from the Islamic onslaught.

The Nigerian army seems to be doing very little.   Neighboring Cameroon claimed today that is has killed 150 terrorists belonging to the organization.

____________________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTE:   Sky News has just said that 5,000 EU citizens are now fighting in Iraq and Syria with ISIS.   What will they do when they return to their home countries in Europe?

Clearly, President Obama was wrong when he said a few months ago that the War on Terror was over. It seems more likely that it’s just starting.

TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS

BBC News photo
BBC News photo

Europe is the center of attention this week.

In Dresden, an 18,000 strong crowd demonstrated against the Islamization of Europe. PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”) has been staging demonstrations in a number of cities. Counter-demonstrations are also being held by those in support of Muslims. How many of the participants are Muslims themselves has not been revealed.

PEGIDA has been condemned by the German Chancellor and President, along with many other prominent people, but the movement must be a serious worry to the establishment. A backlash against Islam has clearly started and is gaining momentum.

That momentum is likely to build with the terrorist attack in Paris today. Twelve people were killed and as many injured when the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were invaded by two or three gunmen. It’s of particular concern that the gunmen were asking for specific people who they named. The publication has satirized Islam in the past. It has just been revealed that the publication’s editor and two cartoonists were amongst those murdered.

This is a classic example of a clash of civilizations – whereas western countries appreciate satire, Islamists don’t. It remains to be seen what effect this attack will have on freedom of speech. This is the second attack on the publication’s offices – the first was in November 2011. One of the gunmen shouted, “The prophet has been avenged!” – clearly, any publication or writer who speaks out against Islam is in danger!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the daily terror attacks that were taking place in France prior to the holidays. France may seem a long way away but the reality is that these attacks could happen anywhere. Ottawa and Sydney suffered terror attacks recently. In the US, one of the Boston Marathon bombers is about to go on trial.

Increasing concerns about the Islamization of Europe will also likely be boosted by a new best-selling novel in France, written by Michel Houellebecq, France’s most famous living writer. The novel’s title is Soumission (Submission), which is the meaning of the word “Islam.”   The book takes a look at France in 2022, not too many years from now, when the country is led by a Muslim who, amongst other things, orders women to stop working (thereby ending unemployment). The novel shows most French collaborating with the new regime, as most did in World War II when the country was invaded by Germany.

Attitudes toward Muslims may also be affected by Europe’s latest economic news. Today, it was revealed that the eurozone has entered a period of deflation, with prices dropping. Partly, this is due to the fall in the price of oil; but it also reflects other factors that show economies going down. There will no doubt be emergency measures taken to stop a deflationary spiral, which is one of the worst things that can happen to an economy. One likely solution to be tried will be quantitative easing, as applied in the US. Otherwise known as printing more money, this practice carries its own risks.

Rising unemployment and economies in disarray will only add to feelings of xenophobia.

Meanwhile, Greece may have a new left-wing government soon, which will increase the likelihood of the country withdrawing from the euro.   The majority of Greeks are angry that the country has gone through a period of severe austerity imposed from outside as the price of staying in the single currency.   The euro can’t be all bad – Lithuania has become the latest country to adopt the currency, which is now used by all three Baltic republics. The three countries, ruled by the Soviet Union before the collapse of communism, are anchoring themselves in the West.

Finally, staying in Europe, Germany’s Angela Merkel is visiting Britain’s David Cameron.   The UK wants to see some changes in the treaties that govern the EU, which Frau Merkel does not want. If those changes are not forthcoming, it’s likely that Britain will pull out of the Union. They will need the German Chancellor’s help whichever way things go, so the visit is timely and comes just before a British general election in May.

It’s going to be an interesting year in Europe, with a serious prospect of big changes.