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It is always the Muslim Brotherhood

In January 2006 it was the Muslim Brotherhood who escalated the Muhammad Cartoons Issue
Sunday 11 January 2015

The origins of the 7 January attack in Paris against Charlie Hebdo goes back first to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) ‘Most Wanted’ list as published in spring 2013 and finally to the Muhammad Cartoons that were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005. The Cartoons did not really got much attention in the Muslim World at the time although most Arab ambassadors stationed in Denmark, the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the Arab League were involved in protesting the cartoons at the Danish government level.

In late November until early December a delegation of Islamic leaders from Denmark, led by the Muslim Brotherhood linked Abu Laban, made a trip through Egypt, Lebanon and Syria to get attention for their grievances against the Cartoons. A second trip was made Abu Laban in December when he visited Qatar and had a private audience with the influential preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It was Qaradawi who took over from that point. Abu Laban returned to Denmark and it seemed that nothing happened, but Qaradawi had started the coordination within Muslim Brotherhood network. It was decided that it was not the right time to escalate.

After the Muslim Brotherhood made a clear win in the (December 2005) elections in Egypt and Hamas secured the win in the Gaza elections in January 2006, the Brotherhood was well prepared and good to go. It escalated the Danish Cartoons issue to a full blown world event within a week. When Qaradawi pulled the switch demonstrations started to erupt not only in the Middle East but also in countries like Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Europe the Brotherhood network was able to mobilize vast as well and the local chapters followed suit by organizing demonstrations in the major European capitals, although the demonstrations in Europe were less violent and vitriolic than those in the Middle Eastern countries.

In Damascus the Norwegian and Danish were attacked and one was set afire. In Lebanon the Danish and Austrian embassies were vandalized. In India, a minister in the state government of Uttar Pradesh, Yaqoob Qureishi, announced that he would reward a cash amount for the person who would behead the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

It took the leadership of al-Qa’ida significantly more time to respond to the cartoons and only two months after the demonstrations started, then deputy emir of al-Qa’ida Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement. In the relatively mild statement Zawahiri singles out France and the United Kingdom and lists complaints that make it clear in his eyes that the ‘insults against the prophet are a series of well-planned insults by the crusaders against our Islam and Muslims.”

According to Zawahiri “…in order to face these insults, we need to rise as one nation, to fight the crusaders campaign against Islam in everything that we have.” “If we are ready to sacrifice ourselves and all what we have in the name of Allah, we have to be serious on getting ready to defend and fight against this crusader campaign that is targeting our religion and sacred beliefs, our lands and wealth…”

Zawahiri follows on to list ‘four fronts’ where the Muslims should counter the West. The first one is the one that is important for this piece and it is called ‘the economic front.’ It “is to inflict losses on the western crusader, especially to its economic infrastructure with strikes that would make it bleed for years.” As examples Zawahiri gives the 9/11 attacks and the terrorist attacks in London and Madrid. He also calls for a boycott of products from Denmark and from the countries that have (re)published the Danish Muhammad Cartoons. Four countries are named: Denmark, Norway, France and Germany.

The Muhammad Cartoons made clear that there is a big gap between the post-religious secular Western societies and the Islamic world. Where Westerners often believe that beliefs are something personal and that everyone has the right to freely critique another’s believe, Muslims are not there. There is not really a dialogue possible between the two groups as they talk on different wavelengths. The closest to a dialogue will probably be a discussion between representatives of the U.S. and Muslim. In the U.S. it does not matter what you believe (Christian, Jew, Muslim or Satanist) but a large majority of people believe in something, in Western countries like the Netherlands a minority of people believe.

So how can believers discuss issues that are important for believers with unbelievers? That is one of the major problems currently happening in the West. Unbelieving Western bureaucrats make plans to combat extremism within religions without understand what belief means. That is failure to happen, actually it already happened. For instance in the Netherlands the Dutch government was prideful about how well-designed their counter radicalization plan. Some of the architects went even to Washington DC to testify before congress about how well the Dutch approach worked against radical Muslims. Since late 2013 we know that it did not work. Within weeks more than a hundred young Dutch Muslims had left for Syria to fight against the Assad regime on the side of radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. Now the real numbers of Dutch citizens who went to Syria to fight, or live in the ‘Caliphate’ are not really know but it is likely that their number is close to or over three hundred, way more than the official Dutch government number of close to 170.

Let’s return to the cartoon issue. Al-Qa’ida kept following the ongoing discussion in the West and in early 2013, the English language AQAP jihadi magazine Inspire (no.10) published a list with ‘Most Wanted’ persons who according to them had insulted the prophet Muhammad. The editor of Charlie Hebdo was on that list. If there is a direct link with Muhammad Cartoons that were published in September 2012 by Charlie Hebdo, is not directly clear, but it can be assumed that it was noticed by the jihadi’s on the Arabian Peninsula. It needs to be awaited if the killing spree in Paris is the beginning of a campaign to go after Inspire Magazine’s ‘most wanted’ or if this is an incident. Multiple attempts to kill Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard have been undertaken. Now Sir, Salman Rushdie, is living in the U.S. and has 24/7 protection, like most of the people on the ‘most wanted’ list. Dutch politician Geert Wilders keep speaking out against the Islam but has a large security detail around him. Ayaan Hirsi Ali left the Dutch politics and settled in the United States, and recently became an American citizen, she also needs round the clock protection.

Although all the targets on Inspire Magazines ‘Most Wanted’ list have round the clock protection, that included the editor of Charlie Hebdo, well trained jihadis who are not afraid to die can attack at any moment with good odds that they might succeed as in an open society there are always possibilities to strike.

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