Blowback: Charlie Hebdo and the Contradictions of Western Policy

Posted by John Rosenthal

The Islamic terror attack on the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has prompted spirited defenses of freedom of expression from the French government and its Western allies. The Western defense of freedom of expression in the face of attacks by Islamic fundamentalists has not always been so unequivocal, however. Indeed, from the start of the Mohammed cartoon controversy, the support of some Western governments – including the French – for Charlie Hebdo and other “offenders” has been tepid at best. Moreover, by allying with Islamist forces in places like Libya and Syria, the West has strengthened some of the most radical currents in the Muslim world: some of the very currents that had taken the West violently to task over the Mohammed cartoons. A brief review of the pre-history of the 2011 Libyan rebellion will make this clear…

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