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2015年1月10日 (土)

パリ新聞社銃撃 表現の自由に挑戦する蛮行だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Fatal assault at Paris newspaper a barbarous act against free speech
パリ新聞社銃撃 表現の自由に挑戦する蛮行だ

An atrocious, cruel terrorist act targeted at an organ of public opinion has occurred. This can never be forgiven.

A group of armed terrorists on Wednesday fired automatic rifles indiscriminately at the head office in Paris of a weekly political newspaper, killing 12 people, including the editor.

Investigative authorities have identified two French brothers of Algerian descent as suspects in the case and taken several others believed to be linked to the slayings into custody. The suspects were quoted as raising such cries as “We avenged the Prophet Mohammed!” at the scene of the atrocities.

A leading theory is that the killings may be related to the weekly newspaper’s publishing of caricatures satirizing the Prophet Mohammed of Islam.

This incident should be seen as a grave challenge by means of violence to freedom of speech, a principle at the crux of democracy.

The incident has had a great impact on French society. President Francois Hollande condemned the assault as an “attack on France as a whole,” and called for the French people to observe a moment of silence Thursday, a day of mourning in honor of those killed.

Protest gatherings were held Wednesday in various locations in France, drawing about 100,000 participants. This surely is an expression of the strong anger among the public.

The weekly has been known for its policy of not even treating religious parody as taboo. More than once it has created a stir through its frequent caricatures of Islam. The weekly newspaper’s office was firebombed in 2011, almost completely destroying its editorial offices.

Muslims’ sense of alienation

When a satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed was carried in a Danish newspaper in 2005, a series of protest demonstrations were staged in Islamic countries, some of them devolving into bloodshed. The latest incident in Paris was a methodically planned assault on a newspaper, which should be considered a brutality falling into a different category from conventional Islamic protests.

World leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama have denounced the terror attack. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Such a cowardly act can never be tolerated for any reason.”

The French authorities must waste no time in uncovering the whole picture of the incident, including the organizational background of the suspects. It is highly important for the entire international community to beef up cooperation for purposes such as limiting the revenue sources of terrorists and stiffening each country’s immigration control procedures.

Ever since last spring, there have been frequent assaults and terrorist activities by Islamic extremists in many parts of the world, including Europe, the United States and Australia. We worry that the Paris incident could spur further social conflict embroiling Muslims in various countries.

Younger-generation Islamic residents of Europe tend to feel alienated due to such factors as high rates of unemployment and poverty, and anti-Muslim discrimination. An increasing number have been infected by Islamic extremism, even to the point of joining the Islamic State group of radicals that has continued expanding its influence over the Middle East.

In fact, one of the suspects in the Paris terror incident was detained while attempting to travel to Iraq in 2005 to join the ranks of an extremist group.

Every European country is urged to move forward with efforts to prevent moderate Muslims from being isolated from the rest of society, and instead help them to secure a harmonious coexistence with others.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 9, 2015)


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