Paris attacks: moving beyond the clash of civilizations

Mohamed Chebarro

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Who is calling for a clash of civilization in our world today? Is it the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? No doubt about it. Or the Muslim Brotherhood? Some people certainly think so.

Or is it Iran’s Islamic Revolution and its values, that border more on extreme nationalism than sectarian Shiite supremacist ideology?

Through Iran’s posturing and meddling in the affairs of states - ranging from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain, to name a few - one cannot exclude the undertones of a clash of civilizations made by its leadership.

Some suggest that Jewish extremism is indirectly aligned to that clash, as it advances its ultimate goal - one that states that the modern state of Israel is best protected by Jewish state to stand up to a possibly ever-spreading ISIS.

The latest attacks on Paris seem to serve one objective, and that is to raise tensions and intolerance. ISIS hopes to sow the seeds of fear and hatred in the open, civil societies spread out across Europe and the rest of the world for the past six or seven decades.

Seeds of fear

The latest attacks in Paris will no doubt awaken fears and embolden the extreme right, not just in France, but across the continent.

For the ISIS-linked cells that committed this heinous crime against Parisians did not spare the Christians or the Muslims, the Buddhists or the atheists, women or men, or the young or the old.

The attacks did not differentiate between lovers of music, whether of hard rock, heavy metal or jazz.

The criminals were blind to other nationalities and did not care if they killed French citizens or with them people from 20 different nationalities.

They did not select their targets according to creed, beliefs, sects or ethnicities. They vented their anger on our way of life, and they were out to kill our way of life that for some reason they do not like, because someone somewhere told them it was the source of all evil.

The criminals - and I will not call them terrorists as they wish to be called - are playing a dangerous card.

A mosaic of society

The areas they targeted represent a basic mosaic of modern society: a cafe, an Asian restaurant, a concert hall, and a football ground.

Above and beyond, those who terrorized by the indiscriminate violence and weaponry were aiming at something more cruel.

In the ninth, tenth and eleven districts of Paris, people to a great extent are colorblind. Most are politically correct and serve somehow as an example of coexistence - if not a totally perfect one.

In these parts of Paris, the French Africans live with the White Catholic French from Normandy, the French Arabs are neighbors with Chinese. Jews live beside Muslims, while the Christians thrive happily with the Buddhists.

Winning over terror

In those same neighborhoods, an entente cordiale exists, despite differences. In a way, the city’s left-wing bourgeois, bohemian population resembles the world’s hard-working people from all classes, who are accustomed to living together no matter what.

It is no wonder that Paris receives millions of visitors each year, who come to sip coffee on its many terraces at the corners of many boulevards, and to feel illuminated by the history found on Parisian streets.

Those visitors want to be inspired by living an everyday life in Paris and then maybe wherever they go back to later.

In the areas targeted by ISIS, Cambodians made peace with the Vietnamese and Chinese, while Algerian immigrants made peace with their former colonial brethren, while the Jews returned in force and repopulated synagogues that Nazi Germany once emptied of worshippers.

Today in Paris, despite the wounds and the gravity and scale of the attacks, it is time to demonstrate a further attachment to living that same way of life that cannot help but resemble that piano player who returns every day to Place de la Republique, intent on playing for remembrance and healing, and in his own way expressing what President Hollande said: that the French republic will win over terror.

And I hope that the piano player will play away the dangers of an imposed clash of civilizations.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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