France will not bow down to what is a new type of extremism, French intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday following a terror attack at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“This morning, it was an act of war, it was a real attack. Not exactly a terrorist sort of execution, it was not blind terrorism, these murderers came to Charlie Hebdo, they called for… some of the killed people by their name, they called them by their name and they did [execute] them. So it’s a very strange and new form of terror which happened today.”
Twelve people were killed and eleven more wounded by gunmen who stormed the French publication’s office on Wednesday shouting “Allahu Akbar” and said they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed, Paris Prosecutor François Molins told a press conference.
World leaders have condemned what French President François Hollande described as “an act of exceptional barbarism.”
The writer and philosopher told Amanpour that “there is today in all French cities a movement of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and what Charlie Hebdo was embodying, which is incredible.”
“Today in France, after this form of September 11, there is no Right or Left, no Muslims or Jews, no Catholics or Atheists. There is French people standing firmly together with their own values and saying no to terror.”
Charlie Hebdo has a history of provocative images that have generated criticism from some in the Muslim community. In 2012, the White House condemned the magazine’s publishing of cartoons that depicted a naked Prophet Mohammed. The images lead to the closure of French Embassies and schools in 20 Muslim countries around the world.
Although “Charlie Hebdo was a very small magazine,” Henri-Levy explained, “nearly an underground magazine, it was the embodiment of the spirit of France, of the best of France.” And after such a direct attack on the press, it is now up to French writers to uphold the magazine’s spirit, he said.
“Those guys this morning did try to kill the heart and the spirit of France, therefore the emergency now the task for any French writer, any French journalist is to help the spirit of Charlie Hebdo, which is the spirit of France, to survive and to develop itself.”
When Amanpour asked Henri-Levy if he feels this is the right moment for senior French Imams and moderate Muslims to say something about Wednesday’s attack he replied “absolutely, they have to say something” and “express their strong feeling that these murderers of this morning are also enemies of Islam.”
“That is Islam is not that, that Islam does not look like this terrible caricature, which was expressed by those killers. So it is the moment, yes of course for all the Muslims of this country to go in the streets and to say ‘not in our name.’”
That, Henri-Levy said, is one of “two tasks today in France.” The other one is “for all French people not to mistake the enemy. Islam is not the enemy. Islamism, radical Islamism [is] the enemy – of course not Islam.”