The Islamist massacre at Charlie Hebdo has understandably captured global attention because it was a barbaric attack on France and freedom of expression. In a moment of defiant moral clarity, "je suis Charlie" emerged as a popular phrase of solidarity with the victims. Hopefully such clarity persists and extends to those facing similar challenges every day in the Middle East.
Christians and other religious minorities have been victimized by Islamists for years, but it wasn't until U.S. journalist James Foley was beheaded that the West cared. ISIS raped and slaughtered thousands of Yazidis -- leaving the surviving refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar -- before the West took notice. But one Islamist besieging a cafe in Sydney, killing two, captured the world's attention until the incident ended.
Western leaders and media must realize that religious minorities in the Middle East are the canary in the coalmine for the West when it comes to Islamist threats. And Israel provides the clearest early warning of all, precisely because -- despite Israel's location in a region of Islamists and dictatorships -- the Jewish state has free elections, freedom of speech, a vigorous political opposition and independent press, equal rights and protections for minorities and women (who are represented in all parts of civil, legal, political, artistic, and economic life), and a prosperous free market economy. more >>
UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. ET Jan. 9, 2015
French President Francois Hollande confirmed in his speech to the nation Friday that four hostages died inside the Paris Kosher supermarket that was attacked by gunman Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who was also killed. Although 12 hostages were freed from the supermarket it's also believed that Coulibaly's girlfriend and accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped the building either with the hostages or before they were released.
Terrorist group Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were killed. The two men responsible for the attack, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were killed during a shootout with police on Friday at a large printing warehouse northeast of Paris. more >>
A second standoff situation has developed at a grocery store in Paris, and police believe the suspect who has taken hostages might also be involved with the killing of a policewoman on Thursday.
The AFP reports that the attack has been carried out by Amedy Coulibaly who has taken at least five hostages, including women and children, in a Kosher grocery store in eastern Paris. Two of the hostages are said to be in their 80s. Police have moved in to surround the building and evacuate anyone in the area; schools have been placed in lockdown in order to protect children near the store, and parents have gathered outside the school.
Authorities believe Coulibaly might also be with suspect Hayat Boumeddiene, the woman suspected of being involved in the shooting death of officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe on Thursday during a routine traffic stop. more >>
More Americans say that self-described-Muslims who commit violence in the name of their religion are real Muslims than say that self-described-Christians who commit violence are real Christians.
Eighty-three percent said violent people who claim to be Christian are not true Christians while only 48 percent said violent people who claim to be Muslim are not true Muslims.
A Public Religion Research Institute survey asked 2,450 Americans two questions: more >>
Last night, The Weekly Standard tweeted "Print Free or Die" with a picture of the prophet Muhammed, whose physical iconography is the purported reason that the terrorist attacks were carried out in the first place.
Always willing to play the part of social media provocateur, I readied myself to re-tweet that image myself, ready to join in the chorus of those wishing to thumb their nose in an act of First Amendment defiance toward the offended party. As a liberty-loving conservative, I believe one hundred percent in the free exchange of offense. The condition of freedom enlists the possibility, and perhaps requires, that all shall be ready to be offended. The promise of freedom is that we can return such offense in kind. We live in a society where we are penalty-free from stating our convictions without recourse from the government (at least in theory; see Barronelle Stutzman). It does not mean, though, that our actions are entirely consequence free, as the tragedy of France proves. The promise of free speech means that the free exchange of ideas, and the attendant competition of ideas, allows the best ideas to surface to the top. That's why Christians defend religious liberty. Yes, we want the freedom to preach and evangelize. But we also believe that which is true shouldn't be stifled, and that the Christian gospel should be matched up against the prevailing philosophical and ideological champions of the day.
I decided against retweeting the image of Muhammed. Luke 6:31 came to mind: "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." As a Christian, I'm not so much offended as I am tired and exasperated at the disrespect and contempt for religion Writ Large when the representative iconoclasm of such things as the "Piss Christ" rear their ugly head. I'm not a Mormon, but I don't like seeing Mormonism mocked. Neither am I Catholic, but I don't like anti-Catholic bigotry. I'm not Jewish, but I don't like seeing Jews caricatured. I'm a Christian, but I believe in the valuable contribution that all religions bring to a free civil society. As I would not want Christ mocked, so I decided to not mock Islam's prophet. This is not a moment of Holier-Than-Thou Christian Do-Goodism. It's to suggest that the commodity of all religions is undervalued in Western society; and that refraining from offending religious sects isn't to bow the knee to political correctness or to become Sharia-compliant. more >>
A number of Muslim groups have condemned the terror attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 people dead, and argued that Islam is a "religion of peace and non-violence" that should not be tied to the barbaric acts committed in its name.
"Nothing can justify the heinous crime that was perpetrated against journalists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today," said Sufi leader Sheikh Khaled Bentounes regarding the Wednesday attack.
"Islam is a religion of peace and non-violence. Do not let ignorance justify the intolerable. We shall never admit that acts of unspeakable barbarism are being committed in its name. The Islam experienced by the vast majority of Muslims in the world has nothing to do with these acts that are contrary to the fundamental values of this religion." more >>