Paris Attacks: Defend the Secularist Faith

Nov 24, 2015

Editors Note: This story was adapted from an article that originally appeared on the website IBNLive.

by Ayushman Jawal

There is an iconic and chilling scene in  “The Dark Knight” where the Joker tells  Batman about his faith in mankind — faith that principles and values go out the window when the pressure is on. “Their morals and code? It’s a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble,” he says. “They are only as good as the world allows them to be. When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other.”

Those words ring in  my mind when I think of Paris, and the fear and confusion that have gripped citizens all across Europe. Similar to the Joker, ISIS is trying to  challenge and denigrate the world’s faith in the motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity — the secularist faith. As homegrown Islamic jihadists are largely responsible for these acts of terror, right-wing political factions across Europe seem to be proving the Joker’s point by denouncing the ethos of multiculturalism that is a hallmark of culture in western Europe, France especially.

The attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish market earlier in the year and the recent horrors in Paris are designed, in part, to pit people against one another. Look no further than the growing debate in Europe and the United States over whether to accept more of the millions of refugees that have flowed out of Syria into other countries.

The leaders of France’s Front National, Britain’s UK Independence Party, Poland’s Law and Justice and Hungary’s Fidesz party all have said that the refugees pose a significant security risk to Europe, while in the backdrop they espouse how ‘Islamisation’ is threatening European values. This is clearly what ISIS wants: Create suspicion and worry about Muslims living in or entering the West in hopes of alienating and radicalizing some of them.

This is the time for the governments to aggressively defend the secularist faith of their constitutions to counter the narrative of the right, which is being baited by terror groups.

The French government’s decision to re-open schools and universities across Paris, and a national appeal for unity and political cooperation, is a message to ISIS that it will not be cowed. It’s an encouraging – and courageous – message to the rest of the world as well.

At the same time, the European governments can no longer tiptoe around the menace of homegrown terror. They cannot fear talking about Islamic extremism for the sake of political correctness. The fallout of that attitude has been that the extreme right is controlling the whole argument, and their narratives are emboldened by ISIS and other terror groups.

De-legitimizing the right’s control over the terror debate and defending the secularist faith is a tough job, but Europe and its tradition of multiculturalism are up to the challenge. This is the time where everyone from a prime minister to a local community leader needs to buck up a traumatized citizenry to hold on to the ideals that make them free and fearless.

To that end, it’s worth recalling the words of legendary CBS newscaster Edward Murrow when he was battling and exposing the fear tactics of the infamous anti-communist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s: “We will not walk in fear one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to associate, to speak and to defend.”

Ayushman Jamwal is a senior editor for CNN/IBN (Indian Broadcasting Network), headquartered  in a suburbs near of New Delhi. He is a well known blogger and commentator on Indian politics, international relations and social issues.

38 comments on “Paris Attacks: Defend the Secularist Faith

  • That’s fine, but (non) integration of any migrant community can be a problem. We are used to hearing about forced marriages in the UK. It affects Sikh and Hindu communities, not just Muslims. I just heard a local woman on TV saying how her father attacked her leaving her near death, and her uncles etc. only decided to call the paramedics because they didn’t see how they would have disposed of her dead body. (She is now doing well.)

    But on the other hand, most minorities do accept our values and share our rejection of the Paris atacks, and it might help the Muslims who are the victims of random “Islamophobic” violence if politicians highlighet the expressions of solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks from prominent British Muslim groups.

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  • Secularist faith is an oxymoron (I think) and anyone who references batman movies (like that piece of overrated trash “The Dark Knight” in this context) is not a serious thinker. (And Heath Ledger sucked. Sorry he died, but that’s what I think.)
    Murrow was wrong and a mediocre man. We do live in fear. McCarthyism terrified the shit out of good, honest people. That is simply a fact. And a lot of people are scared shitless of ISIS, and should be. Tired of platitudes.
    Not descended from fearful men? Did he know all his descendants? Never liked Murrow, or Cronkite. Hate Amanpour. These people are compelled to be superficial.
    I like Chomsky and the late Mailer, the late Gore Vidal, and Chris Hedges.
    And we shouldn’t demonize all Muslims, but many Muslims are “demonic” (and not because they are any different than any other extremist religious group). When monstrous developments such as this occur it is going to engender some degree of unfair suspicion and some reasonable suspicion.
    Let’s be realistic.
    I’m sick of this. What the hell is the matter with these people? Maybe it is their religion and culture. Maybe Islam is a vile religion, as Hitchens said.
    Maybe Christianity and Islam should be abolished permanently (a pipe dream). They are a scourge.

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  • Well said, Dan

    Maybe Islam is a vile religion

    No ‘maybe’ about it. Notice the way apologists immediately deflect from ‘Islam’ to ‘Muslims’… whatever flavour of Muslim, they all believe the Koran perfect and infallible and think Muhammad really IS the best example to emulate, whilst most of them [apparently] know next to nothing about either?
    Muslims live in abject terror of allah, hidden behind slavish worship. Living
    in Turkey I found few willing to question and many, when confronted with some of the more idiotic surah would walk away rather than discuss.

    These are the ‘moderates’. As for the very devout, they are ALL potential jihadis, knowing that is the sacred duty of the REAL Muslim…
    “LO! I have been made victorious through terror” said Muhammad. QED.

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  • Hi, Alan!
    I just want to say one thing: I know you are not a great fan of Schopenhauer (that “ancient” philosopher) but he did say somewhere in his writings (and I’ve read everything except his work on color) that he had read the koran and “could discover nothing of value in it.” Impressed?

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  • motto of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity — the secularist faith

    In my world “faith” refers to trusting in something that does not exist, for which there is no evidence. You are using it is the sense of “trust”. I think that is a dangerous use, since it mirrors the Christian view of faith, cheapening it.

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  • If you read the Qur’an and the bible cover to cover, you will discover the bible is about 100 times crazier and more blood thirsty. The difference is fundamentalist Muslims are more common than fundamentalist Christians.

    The virtue of Christians is nearly all of them ignore nearly all of the bible except for the anti-gay parts.

    The problem then is not Islam or holy books but fundamentalism.

    We keep forgetting the atrocities we did to them. They just decorate their revenge in Islamic garb. Fundamentalist Islam has been around for centuries. Terrorism is new.

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  • And we shouldn’t demonize all Muslims, but many Muslims are “demonic”
    (and not because they are any different than any other extremist
    religious group).

    It is not only Muslims we should demonize, it is ALL religions. That way it will not US against THEM as some sort of religious crusade.

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  • .

    This is the time for the governments to aggressively defend the
    secularist faith of their constitutions to counter the narrative of
    the right, which is being baited by terror groups.

    To Ayushman Jawal….Stop using the oxymoron that it is secularist “faith.” That makes secularism appear as just another religion and believing any absurdity preached by some charismatic individual (the source of all religions). Blind faith leads to committing all kinds of acts of terrible atrocities in the name of some delusionary “god.”. STOP associating “faith” with secularism.

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  • Dan
    Nov 26, 2015 at 12:44 am
    Secularist faith is an oxymoron.

    I agree. But what can we do? Not everyone gets it. Not everyone can grasp such a subtle distinction. (Sarcasm) Maybe this fellow doesn’t think that secularism is anything but another mode of relationship to the “almighty”; it’s a terrible misuse and pernicious misrepresentation of the word secular, and annoying as hell, but all we can do is remind people of that.

    Hey buddy: STOP associating “faith” with secularism.

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  • Unfortunately, we must continually repeat the idea that secularists QUESTION AUTHORITY, and that secularists do not have blind faith nor does anyone have “faith” in secularism.

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  • It doesn’t help to speak so loosely.

    Least of all does it help to not listen to what the terrorists clearly say. Your careful selection of the Parisian ISIL message was disappointing. Nor is “our” monstrous behaviour all of it by any means. So many muslims know we are not monolithic in our views or desires. Very many Muslims count ISIL their enemy and understand their polarising endeavours.

    We do not keep forgetting our monstrous behaviour. But that shouldn’t stop us doing the better thing if we can see such a thing.

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  • Coming back to the terrorist attacks, the politicians are still pursuing their partisan agendas, which are counter productive, with foreign arming of conflicting militias, the prime cause of the Syrian crisis, and export of terrorism in the first place!

    The threats we face are urgent. Equally, there will be no end to the chaos in which ISIL thrives and which fuels migration, for as long as the conflict in Syria endures.

    There is no evidence that air strikes in foreign countries do anything to reduce clandestine terrorism in participating nations.

    This {UK} Government’s strategy for Syria therefore reflects our need
    simultaneously to:

    Protect the UK here at home by maintaining robust counter-terrorism capabilities;

    Nothing to do with air-strikes abroad.

    generate negotiations on a political settlement, while supporting and preserving the moderate opposition;

    Supporting the armed “moderate opposition” faction, trying to overthrow the Assad regime – and the the law and order imposed by that regime, is a prime cause of the conflict and refugee problem.

    help deliver, through this process, a government in Syria that can credibly represent all of the Syrian people;

    This is the foreign attempt at regime change, which caused the civil war and the refugee problems!

    degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, including through Coalition military and wider action;

    In this document, that seems to be a propagandist side issue to that of undermining Assad, to promote foreign instigated regime change!

    continue our leading role in humanitarian support and forestall further migratory flows towards Europe;

    Laughable self delusion! – Sticking plasters on the injuries while continuing violent conflict.

    support stabilisation already underway in Iraq and plan for post-conflict reconstruction in Syria; and work in close partnership with our allies across the Middle East, to mitigate the impact of ISIL and other violent extremist groups on the stability of the region.

    I think we know about the effectiveness of Western “stabilsing” intervention in IRAQ!

    All these elements are linked- and all are important.
    Some have argued that we should ally ourselves with Assad and his regime against the greater threat posed by ISIL, as the ‘lesser of two evils’.

    . . . But a Tory loon like Cameron could not possibly consider putting the welfare of ordinary people (or refugees) before the empire building initiatives of power-blocks and neocolonialism!

    Could such a mandate on air strikes be trusted to focus on destroying ISIL, rather than the partisan politics of continuing the civil war under the delusion that some pro-Western puppet government can be installed in Syria?

    What is needed is an end to the hypocrisy, a cessation of foreign arms supplies to rebel groups in Syria, and the Syrian army with a bit of help from Russia being left to restore the law and order which previously existed before meddling incompetent foreign powers, started their manipulations arming, and funding, of armed rebel groups!
    If ISIS is to be defeated – Stop Saudi Arabia funding and arming them, and stop other countries buying oil from them!

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  • World opinion? How is that gathered or tabulated? It would be interesting to see the stats for individual countries(or people therein) people(individuals) like for instance North Koreans(and South Koreans too) and maybe individuals in Ukraine or the Kashmir.
    I’m sure if you polled the representatives of various countries at the UN you’d get that result, but that would be expected , no ?

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  • Alan4discussion
    Dec 1, 2015 at 9:18 am

    If ISIS is to be defeated – Stop Saudi Arabia funding and arming them, and stop other countries buying oil from them!

    Just an up-date, now that with parliamentary approval, a handful of UK jets are bombing ISIL controlled Syrian oil wells.

    Does anyone seriously believe that with modern surveillance technology and a history of diplomacy with sanctions against various countries, – nobody knows who is buying their oil to fund ISIL’s arms acquisitions, and nobody knows how to freeze the bank accounts involved, or bring pressure to bear on the purchasers?? ?

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  • phil rimmer
    Dec 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Here’s a good analysis of the situation.

    I had a look for information earlier, but as your link indicates there are allegations against Turkey and counter-claims against Assad – in addition to the murky realms of the oil black-market and the dodgy deals associated with civil wars!

    There are no doubt propagandist motives behind some claims and media statements, but I do not believe that the secret services don’t know who the buyers are!

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  • Its worth spending 24 minutes to listen to it. Much of the oil needed by anti ISIL forces comes from these fields. Its a very bitty scenario. There are many buyers but the paths seem tortuous. Turkey is clearly implicated as at the very least delinquent in the matter. But the opinions of the three experts sound convincing.

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  • I havent listened to it yet but they all seem to be in on it. If ISIS is fighting against Assad then Turkey, America and others help ISIS and if ISIS is fighting the Kurds, Turkmen and others, then Russia helps ISIS.

    I heard that the wests raids are around 30 a day but the Russians bomb over 150 a day. How many oil refineries are there?

    ps. Wonder why Russia has decided to blow the whistle after it has had a jet shot down?

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  • phil rimmer
    Dec 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Here’s a good analysis of the situation.

    I think this spells out some of the root causes of the problems.

    Syria’s disparate political and armed opposition factions are coming together in Saudi Arabia for a conference aimed at pursuing peace talks.

    Representatives will attempt to agree a common position from which to negotiate with the government of Bashar al-Assad.

    It is the first time most of the main rebel groups have been involved in peace moves since the conflict began.

    .World powers want peace talks between a unified opposition delegation and the government to start next month.

    They see a political solution to the four-and-a-half-year-old conflict as an important step in a process that will eventually lead to the elimination of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), which controls large parts of northern and eastern Syria.

    Kurds not invited

    Most of the main rebel factions, such as Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, are taking part in the conference in Riyadh, for which preparatory talks began on Tuesday.

    Under Saudi auspices, they will be meeting opposition political leaders based mainly outside the country, and with the more moderate opposition tolerated by Damascus.

    It is important that it is the Saudis who are hosting the talks, the first of their kind to bring together many of the main strands of the rebel movement of which Riyadh is a key backer and financier.

    So the people who have been promoting and financing the civil war, want “peace”, IF their puppet rebels can be put in positions of power, and the Syrian government is prepared to back down!

    It seems that promoting regime change, is still a higher priority than restoring peace and beating ISIS.

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  • Uninvited foreign air-forces kill civilians by bombing a village!

    At least 26 civilians, including children, have been killed in the north-east of Syria by air strikes possibly carried out by the US-led coalition, a monitoring group says.

    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the village of al-Khan, near al-Hawl in Hasakah province, was hit.

    Airborne terrorism, for which some will seek reprisals against perpetrators!

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  • Phil,
    From what I have been reading and told, they are not part of the plan for Syria but for Iraq. The way the middle east is going to be divided the Syrian Kurds will have to fall in line with the Iraqi Kurds. The madness continues. All speculation of course but seems to be happening right before our eyes.

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  • phil rimmer
    Dec 8, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Kurds are not invited because they are too progressive for most participants.

    Perhaps there are good reasons why progressive people don’t want Saudi backed rebels as their government!
    Saudi Arabia has agreed to reopen the case of a Sri Lankan maid sentenced to death for adultery, Sri Lanka’s deputy foreign minister said.

    The woman – a 45-year-old mother of two – was convicted in August along with an unmarried Sri Lankan man.

    She was sentenced to death by stoning, while the man was sentenced to 100 lashes.

    Sri Lankan embassy officials visited the woman in a Saudi jail on Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva said.

    The country had appealed to Saudi Arabia’s government to pardon the couple.

    “Through our intervention, they have agreed to reopen the case,” Mr de Silva said.

    “This is a big victory. We will provide her with legal help.”

    Perhaps Syrians don’t want to need assistance from foreign officials to defend them from stonings!

    Is there really any difference between government by the Saudis and rule by ISIS???

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  • Hope I haven’t come across as anti Kurdish Phil as I am always defending them against the nationalist Turkish mentality. I have been told not to shop at a chain of TFC shops because they are Kurdish but not all Turks are nationalist idiots.

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  • No probs, Olgun. I know you’re not.

    It was using the phrase “Mountain Turk” that got me a bit chewed up back then.

    My ancestry is half Welsh. Half my early childhood weekends were spent in Wales, and mongrel that I am I quite fancy being thought Welsh. I imagined being called Mountain English….

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  • I agree Phil but I was just quoting others. In my discussions with nationalist Greek Cypriots, that phrase would be used when women were stoned but when they wanted to attack the Turks then they would call them Kurds, as in; look what you are doing to the Kurds. I don’t think I have ever heard a Turk call them ‘Mountain Turks’. They are either Kurds (spit on floor) or our Kurdish brothers.

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  • I don’t live in fear. Trans fats and people who text while driving are a much greater danger to my life expectancy than Muslims. There will be some bumps in the road, but, over time, secular values such as reason and empathy will continue to become more and more influential in every part of the globe, even the backwaters of Afghanistan and Alabama. It’s all good.

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  • “It’s the best of all possible worlds”. —Gottfried Leibniz (Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil, 1710)


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  • zonotrichia
    Dec 9, 2015 at 3:57 am

    There will be some bumps in the road, but, over time, secular values such as reason and empathy will continue to become more and more influential in every part of the globe, even the backwaters of Afghanistan and Alabama. It’s all good.

    I take it you don’t live in Saudi Arabia, Oman, or Syria!

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  • JimJFox
    Nov 26, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    “LO! I have been made victorious through terror” said Muhammad. QED.

    I see the Islamic and Wahhabi states are announcing an Islamic anti-terrorism coalition

    Saudi Arabia has said 34 mainly Muslim nations have joined a new military alliance to fight terrorism.

    A joint operations centre is to be established in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, state media reported.

    Countries from Asia, Africa and the Arab world are involved in the alliance but Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival Iran is not.

    Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led coalition against IS and is also leading a military intervention in Yemen against Shia Houthi rebels.

    The list of 34 members: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinians, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

    Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new alliance would co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

    .Neither Iraq nor Syria, whose governments are close to Shia-ruled Iran, are in the coalition, nor is Afghanistan.

    So while Saudi Arabia is arming and funding rebel groups in Syria, and conducting open warfare against Shia rebels who might form a new government in Yemen, it seems this is a Sunni coalition against the terrorists or rebels, backed by the “wrong sects of Islam”!

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