The crazy logic of the people who gunned down the staff of Charlie Hebdo is that it will bring nearer the day of a holy war between the West and the Caliphate.
As the shock and grief continues, we have to ask ourselves if that day is getting nearer.
It seems unbelievable in this hi tech 21st century world that I should be writing in language more appropriate to the age of the Crusades or the sixteenth century when the Ottoman Empire was at the gates of Vienna. More poignantly we can go back to 732 when the Umayyed Caliphate nearly took Poitiers in the centre of France during the incredible early expansion of Islam.
At the moment the conflict does not take the form of armies confronting each other. The British and American experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has ended that for now. We prefer drones, air strikes and arming the Kurds to boots on the ground.
The dreadful events in France have left us in a very dangerous position. Islamophobia and anti semitism are on the rise, our civil liberties are under pressure, and parties of the right are gaining support. Meanwhile the causes of all this are hardly mentioned.
They are in no particular order, the post World War One colonial settlement in the Middle East; the grossly unfair distribution of oil wealth that should have benefited all the people of the region; our ignorance of the complexities of the Middle East when we intervened militarily; the mindset of some Muslims that their religion and way of life should be imposed on all of us and above all our failure to deal with the plight of the Palestinians. Barrack Osama should use the remaining years of his presidency, when he is less beholden to the powerful Jewish lobby in America, to achieve a two state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Of course that is very difficult to achieve, but it could be the beginning of unwinding the mounting crisis between the West and elements of Islam. If the terrorists could no longer point to the plight of the Palestinians, then one of the major causes of tension would be ameliorated. This might then lead to a waning of real and tacit support for terrorism upon which organisations like ISIS and Al -Qaeda rely.
Finally let me go back to the title of this blog and my thoughts on publications like Charlie Hebdo. Whilst we must all defend free speech, we must recognise that it is not absolute in France or here. There are laws curbing racial hatred and obscenity. Much more widely people of a religious belief are entitled to be offended and angered by blatant mockery of Muhammed or Jesus. Emphatically it does not entitle them to kill or intimidate those that publish such material, but we must acknowledge its effect on the heightened tension we are all feeling.