4 People Who Gave the Charlie Hebdo Jihadis Exactly What They Wanted

As the Islamic jihadists Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi murdered twelve people in the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, they screamed “Allahu akbar,” and one of them shouted, “We have avenged the prophet Muhammad.” They thus made it clear that they were enforcing the Sharia death penalty for those who insult Muhammad, and acting to frighten people into refraining from future criticism or mockery of Muhammad.

Barack Obama endorsed this goal, if not the Charlie Hebdo jihadis’ means of attaining it, when he said in 2012 that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” The ordinary understanding of slander in the West is that it involves making false charges that defame another person. But a manual of Islamic law endorsed by al-Azhar, the most influential institution in Sunni Islam, defines slander as “to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike” (Umdat al-Salik r2.2). Nothing is said about whether or not what is said is true — only that the person would dislike it.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo jihad attack, some key Western leaders and media outlets immediately fell obediently into line, carefully avoiding saying anything about Islam or jihad that even the most terror-inclined Muslims would dislike, and thereby giving the Paris jihadis exactly what they wanted. Here are the most egregious capitulators:

1. White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

Earnest said Thursday that the U.S. was going to “redouble” efforts to get the message out about the true, peaceful Islam, as opposed to the violent, hijacked version. He noted that,

there are some individuals that are using a peaceful religion and grossly distorting it, and trying to use its tenets to inspire people around the globe to carry out acts of violence.

Imitating his boss, immediately after stating the problem, Earnest declared victory:

And we have enjoyed significant success in enlisting leaders in the Muslim community, like I said, both in the United States and around the world to condemn that kind of messaging, to condemn those efforts to radicalize individuals, and to be clear about what the tenets of Islam actually are. And we’re going to redouble those efforts in the days and weeks ahead.

This is a great idea. The White House should indeed redouble its efforts to explain what the Qur’an and Sunnah actually say. If it did this honestly, this would lead to a massive change in its foreign and domestic policies. What’s the downside?

But of course the problem with this is that the White House is enveloped in a fog of willful ignorance about Islam’s texts and teachings, and Earnest here is only saying that they’re going to redouble their efforts to thicken that fog, further shielding Muslims from any critical examination of how the teachings of the Qur’an and Muhammad incite violence.

It might seem odd to say that this plays into the hands of the likes of the Charlie Hebdo jihadis, who obviously don’t believe that Islam is a Religion of Peace. However, it is very likely that even though they don’t believe that, they want you to – for then you will be ignorant and complacent in the face of the advancing jihad, instead of preparing defensive strategies. Slander, remember, in Islam is “to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike.” Thus in pushing the Obama Administration’s rainbows-and-unicorns fantasy of a peaceful Islam, Earnest is protecting the religion from slander, which is just what the Kouachi brothers thought they were doing when they started killing people in the Charlie Hebdo offices.