Don't Mistake Essence of French Terrorist Attack
Yoichi Shimada ／ 2015.01.22 (Thu)
January 19, 2015
On January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Egypt for a summit meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. "We must stop the growing global radicalism, "the prime minister said at the meeting. In response, the president said he would like to firmly tackle the problem involving security. The Japanese side then pledged economic assistance mainly for enhancing border controls and developing infrastructure. I think the pledge was timely.
Egyptian president's anti-radicalism speech
At a time when radical Muslims were activating terrorist attacks, President Sisi delivered a key address before clerics at Al-Azhar University, said to be the oldest university in the world, on January 1:
"It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world... That thinking — I am not saying “religion” but “thinking” — is antagonizing the entire world... Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live?"
American conservatives promptly paid attention to the address. "The president of the Arab world’s most populous nation has taken bold and provocative steps. He needs U.S. and broader Western support," said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Commentator George Will welcomed the speech as "an act of tremendous bravery."
In an unusual appearance at a Christian (Coptic Orthodox Church) meeting on January 6, President Sisi urged all Egyptians to be united irrespective of religions. In fact, Islamo-fascists represented by al-Qaida and Islamic State militants mercilessly kill or enslave not only believers in other religions but also Muslims who do not follow their distorted interpretation of the Muslim religion.
The enemy is Islamo-fascism
On a terrorist attack on a French newspaper, some have commented that it would be problematic for the newspaper to carry disgusting cartoons on religions and that considerations should be givento religions even under the freedom of expression. But these comments miss the mark. It is meaningless to theoretically and ambiguously repeat the messages that terrorists sent through powerful killings.
On January 15, Pope Francis said: "You cannot insult other people's faith... If a good friend speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched." This remark is right. But punching someone is decisively different from killing someone or bringing someone to one's knees for beheading. It is important to focus on the difference.
Political measures by the president of Egypt facing many radicals in his own country and neighboring regions may remain more aggressive and authoritarian than the norm of free-world industrial countries. But Japan should flexibly cooperate with Egypt, acknowledging that Islamo-fascism is the unquestionable enemy.
YoichiShimada is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Fukui Prefectural University.