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Charlie Hebdo: Porquoi?

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Por quoi? Why? Why do they hate us? This question always seems to surface for westerners following attacks like the one last week where 12 were heinously slaughtered at the offices of the satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The question of why surfaced for Americans following the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Then President Bush's infamous answer was that the "terrorists" hate our freedoms.

The alleged haters had other answers. Those presumably responsible for the 9/11 massacre said that the attack was a retaliation for innumerable Muslim deaths caused by 80 years of brutal western imperialism following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. It was motivated by U.S. support for the horrors of Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was a response to the deaths of half a million children killed by "American" sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War. It was retribution for defiling Muslim holy sites in Mecca and Medina by establishing U.S. military bases there.

Most in the west never heard those answers.

The question "why" was posed again in Paris on Sunday -- this time in gigantic letters attached to a statue in the central Place de la Republique where hundreds of thousands gathered to protest the barbarous slaughter of innocents at Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday (Jan. 7th).

President Francois Hollande and leaders from Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Britain and the Palestinian territories were in attendance. Even Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Natanyahu, fresh from butchering 500 Muslim children in Gaza while injuring 3000 others and traumatizing an additional 373,000 solemnly marched against the criminal barbarism of killing 12 westerners. No doubt he was as puzzled as others in the vast throng. Why on earth do the Muslims hate us? Why are they so barbaric?

Perhaps he might ask the perpetrators themselves. After all, they were jihadists who enlisted in the war against the United States long before the emergence of ISIS (the so-called Islamic State). Their motivation? Abu Grahib and the torture pictures that shocked the world. With that in mind, do you suppose that the release of the "Torture Report" on December 9th had anything to do with catalyzing the Kouachi brothers in their decision to do something about it? Or the drone killing of 13 Yemeni wedding-goers on December 12th?

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is (more...)

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