Five Lessons from the Christmas Market Attack

On December 11, a Muslim named Cherif Chekatt opened fire at the famed Christmas Market in Strasbourg, killing three and wounding thirteen.

There are several important lessons to be learned from the incident. Here are five of them:

I. The attack was aimed at Christians. It was no coincidence that the terrorist chose to target a Christmas market. It doesn’t matter that not all visitors to Christmas markets are Christians. Despite Europe’s secularization, Christmas markets still symbolize Christmas and, thus, are a favorite target of jihadists.

The Strasbourg Market had been targeted on two previous occasions (although both plots were foiled), and several other European Christmas market plots were uncovered before they could be activated. However, in 2016, an Iraqi boy successfully planted a nail bomb at the Christmas market in the German city of Ludwigshafen. And in the same year, a Muslim refugee killed 12 and injured 56 in a truck attack on the Berlin Christmas market.

 

Meanwhile, in the Muslim world, Christians are at a particularly high risk of attack during the Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter Holidays. On Christmas Day, 2017, at least 32 people were killed while leaving Mass at St. Theresa Church in Abuja, Nigeria. And on Palm Sunday, 2017, two suicide bomb attacks in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt, left 45 churchgoers dead and over 100 injured. Christians in Muslim lands who attend church at Christmas or Easter are well aware that it may be their last Christmas or their last Easter.

These deliberate attacks on Christians in Europe and in Muslim nations ought to put to rest the notion that Muslims hold Christians in high regard. Some do, but a great many don’t. In general, Christians who live in Muslim-dominant societies lead a precarious existence. Christians also need to think twice about the claim—oft heard around Christmas time—that “Muslims love Jesus, too.” Although there are similarities between the Jesus of the Koran and the Jesus of the Gospels, they are not the same Jesus. The Koran is quite clear that Christians who call Jesus the Son of God are blasphemers. And, as in the case of Asia Bibi, they can spend years in prison for contradicting the Muslim understanding of Jesus.

II. The attack in Strasbourg was predictable. As the Muslim population of France continues to increase, the probability of terror attacks also increases.

The Strasbourg gunman had 26 prior convictions, and, like so many other terrorists, he was well-known to police as a security risk. But, you might ask, if he was well-known, why wasn’t he taken into custody or surveilled more closely?

The answer is that although Chekatt was on France’s “security threats” list, so were about 20,000 other Muslims. As one former police inspector observed: “There are so many people that are involved around the edges of this sort of terrorism … that you can’t keep any sort of meaningful surveillance on them.”

Apparently, this overabundance of potential terrorists is a deliberate strategy. As Robert Spencer notes:

The Islamic State (ISIS) years ago announced its intention to mount so many jihad attacks that Western law enforcement and intelligence agencies would not be able to keep up with them all, and would collapse.

It’s the Islamist version of the Cloward-Piven Strategy—the brainchild of two Columbia University professors who called for overloading the welfare system until it collapsed, with the aim of replacing it with more extreme forms of socialism such as a guaranteed annual income. Likewise, European officials who are faced with an unmanageable flood of security risks are more likely to make concessions to sharia demands as a way of placating the increasing population of non-moderate Muslims. The ultimate aim of the overload strategy is to replace European culture with Islamic culture.

III. Barriers belong on borders. Despite the current focus on Christmas attacks in Europe, the vast majority of attacks on Christians, in season and out, occur in Muslim-majority countries. This strongly suggests that the way to cut down on attacks against Christians in Europe, Australia, the U.S., and Canada is to severely restrict the flow of migration from Muslim-majority lands.

European governments are currently spending huge amounts of money on beefing up security around Christmas markets and other popular sites with bollards, massive concrete barriers, and ugly fencing. In addition, bollards and security guards are sprouting up around churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the security barriers at the borders rather than placing them around every Christmas market, church, museum, concert hall, shopping mall, and café in the Western hemisphere?

IV. As the threat increases, denial deepens. At a point in time when national borders need to be made more secure, an increasing number of people seem to think that there’s no need for them at all. According to a story in National Review, professors at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana are calling for the “abolition of the police, ICE, borders and the judicial system.”

The statement, which was issued by the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, is simply a more extreme expression of a widespread sentiment. In America, the “Abolish ICE” posters are omnipresent on campus and at open-borders rallies. Many of the same people who think you can abolish the differences between the sexes without consequences are convinced that you can abolish national borders without consequences.

Of course, the mainstream media are also in denial. They portray opponents of illegal immigration as bigots and racists. They ignore the story of the global persecution of Christians by Muslims, and downplay the Islamization of Europe, all the while churning out feel-good stories about the achievements of moderate Muslims. Not to be outdone, the social media giants—Google, Facebook, and the like—are striving to eliminate all criticism of Islam. According to the new rules of social media, if you can’t say something nice about Islam and immigration, don’t say anything at all—or else.

The net result of all this academic and media manipulation is that the average American is more naïve about the nature and goals of Islam than he was a decade ago. The good news is that this foolish naïveté about the threat from Islam seems to be abating in Europe. Border-security parties are making gains all over Europe while open-borders parties and politicians are steadily losing ground.

V. You will forget about Strasbourg. An important lesson to take away from almost all terrorist attacks is that we quickly forget about them, and thus we tend to grossly underestimate their number. So you will probably soon forget about the Christmas Market attack in Strasbourg. How well do you remember the Beslen, Russia, school massacre where over 300 were killed? Do you remember the attack along Las Ramblas in Barcelona a few years ago where 13 people were killed and 130 injured? Do you recall that the original intended target was the iconic Sagrada Familia Cathedral? How about the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid which left 191 dead and 1,800 injured? Does that ring a bell? Do you remember the story about the three Americans on board a French train who subdued a well-armed terrorist? (Clint Eastwood made a movie about it). How about the several other jihadist attacks aboard European trains that were not interrupted by American heroes and were thus ignored by the American media? For most Americans, the victims of those underreported attacks will remain unknown—strangers on a train, so to speak.

Do you remember the Moscow Metro bombings that left 40 dead? How about the jihadist attacks at the Brussels airport and subway station that left 32 dead and 340 injured? The 836 victims (52 dead, 784 injured) of the London tube and bus bombings? The 38 people (mostly British citizens) who were killed at a beach resort in Tunisia? The Muslim who killed five people at a mall in Salt Lake City? The jihadist who shot five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport?

An annotated list of all the jihad attacks in Europe and North America since 9-11 would probably fill a small volume. The Religion of Peace website, which keeps track of global Islamic jihad, lists over 34,000 deadly terror attacks since 9-11. And these are only the “successful” attacks. According to police and FBI reports, the number of foiled attacks far exceeds the number of actual attacks.

Terror attacks are not pleasant to remember, but we can’t afford to forget them. The next one may strike far closer to your home than the ones listed here.

William Kilpatrick

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William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

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