The attacks by Islamic terrorists in France and elsewhere are leading governments to introduce new laws aimed at combatting terrorism. But as Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian newspaper this week explained, [i] there is a deeper problem that our political leaders have entirely overlooked. That problem is the widely held view that people become Islamic terrorists because they are somehow victims of society. Society has the idea – fed by left-wing journalists, politicians and activists – that the murders are not really the fault of the terrorists but of our western culture, or perhaps the result of a mental illness. Either the west has treated the Muslims badly causing these ‘victims’ becoming terrorists, or they are the victims of a mental illness and therefore can’t really be held responsible, it is claimed.
Albrechtsen reports on an interview with Benjamin Eribibou, who counsels people in France who are radicalised or risk being radicalised. They are “Muslims aged between 15 and 35 isolating themselves from society”. But they’re not isolating themselves because they’ve been victimised, have a “mental illness” or are psychopaths. “It has nothing to do with craziness,” Eribibou says.
The simple reason why they engage in terror is to promote their “political and religious ideology”. They want to change society so that it becomes Muslim, and they are prepared to use force and terror in order that society will be ruled by Muslim sharia laws. The Islamic jihadists recruit young men and women to carry out the terror by telling them that they are victims of society. Western society, they say, is against them and hates them and this is then an excuse for taking revenge.
The trouble is that this jihadist victimhood message is reinforced by many in the west – especially left-wing politicians and a generally left-wing media. They too say that the Islamic radicals are victims of society and therefore do these terrible things. In this way they are helping the jihadist recruiters. The recruiters can say to the young people whom they are trying to recruit: Look, even the western media and politicians agree that society treats us, Muslims, badly.
“Erbibou says … ‘There is this left-wing (mentality) in France — still today — that it’s our mistake. It’s because of us. Because we didn’t integrate them. Because we are racist.
‘That is terrible,’ Erbibou explains, ‘because these words, these discourses only make them (those at risk of radicalisation) break with society.’
He says other groups in France that work with those who have been, or are at risk of being, radicalised peddle this dangerous message.
‘If you keep telling people they are right to complain, to feel that France is racist, and stuff like that, you won’t help France, you won’t help them. You will help only ISIS (Islamic State).’
Another writer, Yves Mamou, makes the same point. Writing for The Gladstone Institute ,[ii] he provides some examples:
From Le Monde: “Germany: A Syrian Refugee Dies While Causing an Explosion in Front of a Restaurant in Bavaria”… The headline (which has since been changed) is not about the diners in the restaurant who were targeted by the suicide bomber. The headline is about a victim, who is “the author of the explosion”. This “victim” — apparently only incidentally an Islamist criminal, according to this narrative — may have had a good reason to seek revenge! He was, after all, “a Syrian refugee whose entry into Germany was denied by the administration.” He was not deported for humanitarian reasons. The journalist barely mentions the 15 victims wounded, some severely, in the explosion. There is only one victim, the author of the suicide attack, which some journalists implied was not really a suicide attack, but maybe only a suicide. The man had a history of psychiatric problems, after all.
According to the Wall Street Journal: “He was known to police and had been treated twice after trying to take his own life, Mr. Herrmann [the Bavarian Interior Minister] said. He was also known because of a previous drug misdemeanor, a police spokeswoman said.”
This focus on the terrorist as being but a poor, sick, young man is also reflected in the report about Ali Sonboly, the 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman who murdered nine people at a Munich shopping mall on July 25. As Mamou reports, he may be an Islamist killer, but he was more surely psychotic. According to Reuters: “Materials found at the gunman’s home also showed he had been hospitalized for psychiatric care for three months around the same time, and was an avid player of violent video games, the officials told a news conference”.[iii]
Mamou illustrates how government officials, too, downplay the murderous character of the terrorists. For example, after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel murdered over 80 people by driving his big truck into a crowd in Nice, a French socialist parliamentarian said:
“The fireworks… It is a popular festival, there are families, children; it is often the only party that these children have, and so people are eager to go, and often checkpoints are removed to help the flow, because people do not want to wait, they want to leave, and that is unfortunately, is the time there may be a problem. “[iv]
The murder of over 80 people is much more serious than just “unfortunately, there may be a problem”.
There’s also the claim, says Mamou, that
“ISIS Is Not Islamist; It Is a Right-Wing Organization. We can sleep soundly, we are advised. The terrorists, we are told, are not Islamists but Fascists. “In claiming to be part of Daesh [ISIS], the two assassins show once again the bloody nature of this right-wing sect with policies that are racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic,” wrote SOS Racisme, an NGO financed by France’s Socialist government in a bid to seduce Muslim voters.[v]
Says Albrechtsen: “A flourishing victimhood culture exists in different spheres across Australia, too. Left-wing activists create ‘Islamophobia’ registers and spruikers in the media are only too happy to reinforce the victimhood message to Muslims.” Apparently our own Australian Racial Discrimination Act (Section 18c) invites people to claim “victimhood status” through the courts if their feelings are hurt.
When the main stream media and left-wing activists keep crying “Islamophobia!” every time someone expresses a warning in relation to Muslims, they cause the victimhood culture to flourish and play into the hands of the radical Islamic recruiters. By continually trying to defend the Islamic attackers and blaming western society, the media and social activists fuel the “victimhood status” which is used to promote and facilitate further attacks by Islamic radicals.
We need to see these false claims for what they are. Western society is not guilty of causing radical Islamic hatred and violence. But it is guilty of something else and France has much to do with that. It has, by and large, rejected Christianity and adopted instead the ideology of the 18th century French Revolution. That French Revolution, ironically being celebrated when an Islamic terrorist in a truck killed scores of people at Nice, was not just a revolt against the king and queen and others of the nobility, it was a revolt against God. With its catch-cries, ‘No God, no master’ and ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’, it adopted the ideology of the godless Jean Jacques Rousseau and made human reason its god. The rest of the west has, on the whole, followed, extolling the great goddess of reason.
Western society likes to talk about freedom but wants freedom to break with the norms of God’s Word – freedom to sin, a freedom which, as Scripture shows, is actually enslavement to Satan. As far as the ‘world’ is concerned, its love of freedom evidently does not extend to those who denounce sin. Indeed, the world mocks and persecutes Christians. It seeks to silence those who uphold God’s holy law, who speak up for the lives of the unborn, who defend God-ordained marriage as being between husband and wife, or who denounce homosexuality and sexual perversions, etc. In this way Christians are the victims of the world’s hatred of those who stand up for the cause of Christ and his Word.
But in a deeper sense the world and false religions are the real victims, victims of Satan’s deception and their own wilful disobedience, unbelief and revolution against God most high. Unless they repent they will draw down God’s judgements through history and ultimately on the Day of Judgement.
[i] Janel Albrechtsen, “Islamic terror: France’s Benjamin Erbibou says stop blaming West” in The Australian, 26 July 2016.