Our hearts mourn for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and much as on September 11, 2001, the whole of the civilized world were Americans, today we are all Parisians.
No one watching the news felt shocked at the Islamic identity of the killers, given Charlie Hebdo’s past experience with terror and the murder of Theo Van Gogh. The only question facing the world lies in whether the attackers are lone wolves – though don’t three make a pack? – or an assault coordinated with an organized group.
So in the aftermath of Islamic terror attacks, many ask a reasonable question: Why does the greater Muslim community not speak out against the barbarity?
I’d ask that question today in light of the Paris terror attack. However, it would not be quite accurate. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had already given a full-throated call for reform in the Islamic world.
Standing in front of an audience of religious scholars on December 28, 2014, President el-Sisi announced, “We must reform our religion.”
Given the place of Egypt in the Muslim world, this could be the equivalent of Luther tacking his theses on the church door. If el-Sisi continues on this path, he might be shepherding in a new reformation. This might be the third way the world needs in face of a conflict between the West and radical Islam.
And despite this momentous news, the media responded with the sound of crickets. This raises the question: why did the el-Sisi speech fell into the memory hole?
We have the president of a major Muslim nation, a man who deposed the Muslim Brotherhood, calling for reform of Islam. This is no small thing to do. This is the nation where the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Anwar Sadat for making peace with Israel.
Mr. el-Sisi already has a target on his back for wresting power from the fanatics. This may well be his declaration that he intends to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood. It will most likely solidify the Brotherhood’s desire to destroy el-Sisi.
It’s understandable that neither President Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry made a big deal of this. It was the holidays, a few days after Christmas and just before the New Year. Adjusting their schedules would risk missed tee times and could force them to reschedule meetings on how best to attack the new GOP Congress. These are busy men with priorities.
On the other hand, the news cycle for the holidays is slow. You would think the benchwarmers left to read the headlines in these doldrums might look to make a name for themselves by focusing on a major story.
Plus they would get warm fuzzy bonus points for an opportunity to tsk, tsk “Islamophobia.”
That’s a win-win.
And the question is why?
And I can only think of Wednesday’s tragedy. Charlie Hebdo faced Islamic firebombing for daring to show the Prophet Muhammad. Yet they did not allow the savages to censor them.
On the other hand, we have a president in Barack Obama who bravely endorsed free speech by warning that “[t]he future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” This resounding defense of free speech came in the wake of the Obama administration blaming the Benghazi consulate assault on a video that hurt Muslims’ feelings. The maker of that video was jailed.
Yes, truly a rallying call of Churchillian proportions.
Even worse, in light of yesterday’s tragedy, the White House had previously criticized Charlie Hebdo for its depictions of Muhammed. In another “victory for free speech,” Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that “we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” when asked about a 2012 round of violence from the religion of peace in relation to the magazine.
With such stern language coming from POTUS’ press secretary, one can only imagine the quaking of Islamists in their boots.
So even before the killings in Paris, for the media to focus on el-Sisi’s brave, bold talk would be to show the contrast with this administration. Winning the Nobel Prize has clearly not qualified our president to be a Profile in Courage.
Moreover, the failure to acknowledge el-Sisi’s speech may come from the embarrassing fact that he was not the Obama-backed horse. In a brilliant display of his “smart diplomacy,” which can only honestly be described as soft pedaling America’s enemies while betraying our allies, Obama backed the Muslim Brotherhood government in the overthrow of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak.
The fact is that potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton helped midwife the fall of secularist Mubarak for the rise of radical Islamists.
What questions would people ask about her judgment if the renewed secularist government showed far more courage than this administration and its alumnus?
Fortunately for the West, the Egyptian people did not continue along the Brotherhood’s path. They threw off the Islamist influence and are proceeding in a more courageous path.
A more dangerous path.
It’s a potential embarrassment to the Obama administration.
We can’t have that.