Czech Republic: Muslim representative touts conspiracy theories about the murders in Paris
Mohammed Abbas, the director of the Muslim Union in the Czech Republic, has given media appearances in which he has doubted whether Islamists were responsible for several high-profile terrorist attacks. Speaking in an interview with Daniela Drtinová on the internet television station DVTV and then on yesterday's episode of Czech Television's "Hyde Park" program, Abbas said the 9/11 attack on New York could have been committed by the U.S. Government; that since no one had ever found the terrorists who committed murder on a London bus it could not be proven that they were Muslim; and that now in Paris it is far from certain that it was actually Muslims who committed these attacks and that a secret service game could well be behind it all.
The television stations had invited him to express his views on the terrorist attack in Paris as a representative of Muslims in the Czech Republic. On Wednesday, two armed men stormed the editorial office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo there and shot dead 12 people, seriously wounding others.
The armed men shouted "God is Great" in Arabic and had evidently come there to "punish" journalists for having printed a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. If Czech television viewers were expecting to encounter a Muslim representative who was open, tolerant, and who clearly condemned Wednesday's terrorist attacks, they were probably disappointed and shocked.
Abbas cast doubt on whether Islamists bore responsibility for previous such attacks and for this most recent one in Paris. He stated that in his view, such an attack is illogical from the perspective of the Muslim world, because Europe in recent months has increased its support for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
The Paris newspaper has been shot up even as the Islamic State in Iraq is rising as a new Muslim threat. Abbas said Muslims do not stand to benefit from such an action and asked who does.
He also described Europe as an intolerant place and said it always has been - all we have to do is recall how Europeans behaved toward the indigenous people of North and South America and how they behaved in their colonies elsewhere. He said Europeans are up in arms about the fact that Muslim law permits the stoning of an unfaithful wife while they themselves are simultaneously participating in the mass murder of Muslims in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
Abbas also said it was very possible that politicians and secret services are letting their own people be murdered and staging these terrorist attacks so they can attack the Islamic world with renewed force. Lastly, he described himself (and Muslims in general) as tolerant, saying they do not want to force Islam or Sharia law on anyone, but it was clear from his the rest of his remarks that something rather fundamental needs to be done with Europe and the West as such.
This was not an ideal way to restart the interrupted dialogue between different cultures and faiths here. It is certainly possible to agree that the West, throughout history, has subdued the rest of the world using brutal methods and that it has tried to remake the rest of the world in its own image and to serve its own interests.
Naturally it is also possible to justifiably reopen the question of the war in Iraq and other Western "interventions", and not only in the Muslim world. However, attitudes such as "You murdered off the American Indians and are throwing bombs at Iraq, so don't ask us to condemn the shooting of a few journalists in Paris" does not contribute to bringing such murders to an end, whatever form they take.
In principle, there are two basic options here: Either "normal", "ordinary" people essentially have no influence over anything and the secret services decide everything - a small little group of the most powerful, the military, someone's interests about which we have not the slightest idea. If that is the case, then there is no reason to start any dialogue or play at helpfulness and tolerance - we'll all reach agreement and embrace, and then the secret agents will blow up the Eiffel Tower.
The second option is that "ordinary" people do have influence, that there is a point in their doing their best to understand each other, to get to know one another and, understandably, not to kill each other. A normal European does not want to murder children in Iraq or Palestine and does not sleep better after reflecting on the suffering of the American Indians.
Similarly, it can be presumed that a normal Muslim does not want to murder French cartoonists, commuters on a London bus, or office workers in New York City. It is, therefore, still worth imagining a world that is not dominated by a handful of secret agents and magnates, a world where agreements and dialogue between decent, normal people are the fundamental influence.
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