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Terror in Paris

Terrorists violently struck the world again on Wednesday, Jan. 7. This time gunmen ambushed a French weekly periodical, killing 12 people. What’s behind this attack?

Terror in Paris

Paris residents captured chilling video images of two masked gunmen shooting a police officer after an attack at a French satirical newspaper (AP)

On Jan. 7, 2015, armed gunmen entered the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo (French for Charlie Weekly) and opened fire, reportedly killing 12 people in the attack. French President François Hollande labeled this a terrorist attack of “exceptional barbarity,” and French terror alerts were raised to the highest level.

Three armed men, disguised in black hoods, reportedly entered the office building with AK-47s and indiscriminately opened fire. Among those killed were cartoonists who drew for the Charlie Hebdo publication. The gunmen fled by car and have yet to be captured or killed at the time of this writing.

Background of the attack

To understand this act of terrorism, one must understand the publication Charlie Hebdo. This French left-wing satirical publication consistently prints provocative political cartoons and caricatures of politicians and religious figures. (The “Charlie” of the title is an irreverent reference to Charlie Brown and Charles de Gaulle.)

Since the French left wing is irreligious and secular, religious satire is common in France. The cartoonists of this publication have, since 2006, been lampooning radical Islam with cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and Muslim leaders. It even published an issue renamed Charia Hebdo, edited by a caricature of Muhammad.

But this attack must be placed in an even larger context. 

Throughout the last decade, tensions have been rising in Europe between native Europeans and Muslim immigrants. Though Europe prides itself on freedom of expression and accommodating foreigners, Muslims settling in European cities often maintain their conservative Muslim culture and stay isolated and insulated in Muslim communities, often regulated by their own Muslim enforcers.

Instead of assimilating into the secular and free cultures of Europe, many Muslims want to practice sharia law (many tenets being reprehensible to European values) within their own communities and threaten violence against those who mock or criticize Islam.

Many Europeans not only resent the Muslim culture encroaching on European culture, but also resent Muslims competing for jobs and receiving government benefits.A truly European problem

This tension is one of the greatest issues facing Europe today. How can Western values of freedom of expression and freedom of religion function when a growing population within Europe rejects those principles? And how can Europeans deal with those extreme elements who are willing to resort to terror to enforce their view on native Europeans?

Add to that the increasing numbers of Islamic immigrants flowing to Europe propelled by turmoil in the Middle East (particularly Syria) and Africa during a time of economic hardship across Europe. Many Europeans not only resent the Muslim culture encroaching on European culture, but also resent Muslims competing for jobs and receiving government benefits during a time when many Europeans are unemployed.

In Germany tensions recently flared as a group called PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) has been holding weekly protests against Islamic immigration since October 2014. These protests have occurred in large German cities, including Cologne, Dresden, Stuttgart and Berlin. PEGIDA is a right-wing political organization that claims to have growing support. According to a recent poll, one in eight Germans would participate in an anti-Islamic immigration rally if one was held nearby.

In Sweden violence is increasing against Islamic mosques by Swedes who resent the seemingly unending flow of Muslim immigrants to Sweden. The far-right Sweden Democrats party recently saw a surge in support, with recent polls showing that 17 percent of Swedes now back it.

Wednesday’s attack in Paris will likely further enflame these tensions and lead to greater support for far-right European parties such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front (in France) and other similar parties throughout the nations of Europe.

Prophetic implications

Bible prophecy tells us to look for this clash of civilizations to increase. One of the prophetic titles of a future united Europe is the “king of the North” (Daniel 11:40). This power will be made up of “ten kings” (10 nations or groups of nations) who will temporarily unite to revive some modern version of the old Holy Roman Empire in Europe (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12).

Daniel 11:40 reveals that this European power will be attacked by a power identified as “the king of the South.” Since geographical orientation in the Bible centers on Jerusalem, this refers to the nations and civilizations south of Jerusalem—the Muslim world.

To learn more about these prophecies, read “The King of the North” and “The King of the South.”

These prophecies help us understand why we see continuing tension between Europe and the Muslim world. Increasing numbers of Europeans are uniting against these extremist assaults and the European status quo. While Europe has found it difficult to form a truly cohesive union up until now because of diverse domestic policies, it will likely find it easier to unite against a common foe.

Is it possible that economic crisis exacerbated by tensions with the Muslim world could propel the nations of Europe to unite under a strong leader who promises peace, security and a restoration of European power?

The puzzle pieces are continuing to fall into place. Continue reading Life, Hope & Truth and Discern magazine for insight and analysis of these prophetic trends.

To learn more about the threat of Islamic terrorism, read “The New Face of Terrorism” that appears in the January/February issue of Discern magazine.

About the Author

Erik Jones

Erik Jones

Erik Jones is a full-time writer and editor at the Life, Hope & Truth offices in McKinney, Texas.

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