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Our Dead, Our Self-Defense

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/11/2015 Caroline Fourest

Since January 11, French people have felt united, in response to such a cowardly and monstrous attack. But now, we're already hearing discordant voices. With a warped and falsely rebellious spirit -- unless this is a case of Stockholm syndrome -- you will always find those that create excuses for the murderers.
Their role, however, is getting more and more difficult. But they have resources.
When Algerian terrorists were slaughtering Algerians in Algeria, we were told that we shouldn't blame them, because they had been oppressed by the military and the authorities.
When Islamist extremists came to power in Tunisia and Egypt, allowing the Jihadists to threaten those who didn't follow a similar ideology, we couldn't complain. Out of respect for democracy.
When terrorists started killing Jews in France, because they were Jews and French, some didn't shed a tear. Because the Israelis oppressed the Palestinians.
When terrorists killed French-Arab soldiers, because they belonged to the military and were French, no one really mourned them -- under the pretext that France had been a colonialist in the past.
When terrorists killed Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists because they were defending the right to be blasphemous and the freedom to make fun of terrorism, people vehemently argued that we should not "be Charlie" and that January 11 was a sham.
Now that terrorists are targeting everyone -- football fans, people who enjoy getting a drink out on the terrace or listening to music, what can they really come up with? Well, they have found something. Very quickly. Too fast. This time, they've decided that our intervention in Syria is to blame.
Our "wars" against "political Islam" is to blame, according to Michel Onfray. It is our "Islamophobia" that's to blame, and our laws concerning religious symbols in public schools, according to reports in Les Indigènes de la Républiqueor The Guardian.
So if we're killed, it's our fault, because we support equality, secularism and freedom of speech. It's our fault if we defend ourselves peacefully when someone threatens our rights, and militarily if they declare war on us.
These narratives are not only immoral, they also provide armor to the terrorists. They facilitate recruitment for them. They make us targets. These are the narratives of collaborators who play into the hands of the propaganda that aims to destroy us.
France is no longer at peace, that's for sure. A terrorist group-turned-state has declared war on us. It's sending soldiers to commit war crimes on our soil. Even more importantly, the Islamic State isn't targeting us for what we're doing, but for who we are. A free, secular and life-loving country. It's spelled out in words in the statement claiming responsibility for the attacks of November 13. And this changes everything.
The war in Iraq, in which we were right not to participate, was unrelated to September 11, and fell outside of international law. The intervention in Syria, however, was justified. It adheres to international standards of self-defense.
What about other voices... Those who, in the name of self-defense, suggest that we join the Russians.
They are also turning everything around. The answer is not for us to form an alliance with the Russians in order to support Bashar Al Assad. The answer is for the Russians to join us in order to combat the Islamic State, instead of making bombing moderate rebel groups a priority.
Gambling on Bashar Al Assad, which is what we're asking the Russians and their allies from the National Front to do, won't help us fight the Islamic State. Instead, it will turn us into a much more justified target.
Striking our country, which refused to join the war in Iraq and is fighting in Syria for self-defense, without choosing to support a bloodthirsty dictator, only makes sense to ISIS fans. Striking a country perceived to be supporting Bashar Al Assad and his mass massacres would make more sense. It's exactly the kind of polarization that ISIS hopes for: being alone against all our democracies, lumped together with the Damascus executioner. It's a trap. We will lose our moral advantage and ISIS will gain the power to seduce and recruit more European Muslims -- those that identify as victims of Bashar Al Assad, and feel rejected.
There's another trap. Falling into the same racism on which our enemies thrive. The idea that the National Front could represent several regions of France and therefore its external image would, with good reason, play into their propaganda.
It's a choice offered by our electoral democracy, and therefore, a right. But it's also a choice that will shatter our national cohesion and weaken us like never before in this war. A war of military, ideology and psychology.
________________This post first appeared on HuffPost France. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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