In the 258th edition of Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, the main editorial on page three is entitled, “Fight the Heads of Disbelief, Perhaps They Will Desist”, and addresses the ongoing and now international dispute after the murder of Samuel Paty, a French schoolteacher, on 16 October. Paty had, after offering those who wanted to leave that opportunity, shown the cartoons from Charlie Hebdo during a class on free speech, and was subsequently beheaded by an Islamist accusing him of blasphemy. In the two weeks since, many Islamist and jihadist groups and individuals, as well as alarming proportions of ordinary Muslims, even in Western countries, have said Paty deserved what he got—albeit at varying levels of openness. A similar message has been transmitted by a number of governments in Muslim-majority countries, notably Turkey and Pakistan, who have effectively blamed France for the atrocity, either citing the French version of secularism (laïcité), racism, or some other grievance. The primary message of IS’s editorial is to declare itself unimpressed with these stances.
The Naba editorial begins by saying that the burning and other means of desecrating the French flag are an understandable reaction from common people wishing to express their anger that the French state won’t enforce Islamic blasphemy laws to suppress cartoons “mocking the Messenger of God”. But this is less forgivable, says IS, from people who “only yesterday were waving the flag of the French Crusaders” and trying to enlist the French government in support of their political ambitions. Included within this criticism are “the apostate [Muslim] Brotherhood and the Awakening factions (fasa’il al-sahwat)”.
It was not so long ago, Al-Naba goes on, that “the flags of France, America, and other Crusader countries [were raised] in the demonstrations in Benghazi in Libya”, and thanks were offered to the infidels for helping to bring down the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi. In Syria, it was hoped that the West would help in overthrowing Bashar al-Asad and “to that end, they offered to sacrifice their religion, declaring that they want a ‘civil democratic’ state, and consenting to fight the monotheists (muwahideen)”, i.e. IS, in a campaign “led by the Crusaders in America and Europe”.
Al-Naba says that it has no doubt if new circumstances came about where the Brotherhood or Awakening forces (IS’s term for any of its Sunni opponents) needed French assistance to get rid of a taghut, “these people would forget their anger and raise French flags again”. This has happened before, says Al-Naba, when the French refrained from joining the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq “and the people of error forgot all the crimes of France over the centuries”, even starting to laud Jacques Chirac, despite the fact France was involved militarily in warring against the jihadists in Afghanistan and the Bekaa.
Thus, says Al-Naba, these demonstrations and boycotts and other threats are useless; they will last for a while and then fizzle, as happened before, and there will be some new incident like Libya that transforms anger into love when the French help to overthrow a despotism, paving the way for revolutionaries to establish a “blasphemous government” (hukumat al-kafariya) that seeks the approval of France and its sister states among the Crusaders. This is what happens when Muslims do not build a state on the firm legal basis of hating the mushrikeen (idolaters, polytheists), Al-Naba announces; people go astray, tilting with political and economic winds.
“If we tracked the course of these protests” over decades, Al-Naba argues, mentioning the Danish cartoons of 2006, it would be found that no serious impact on the West is ever made. Muslim religious fervour is stirred up and there is a furore in the media, but no concrete changes are made in Western conduct.
“The response to their mockery and slander of Islam and its Messenger is to fight them and abuse them until they stop their bad deeds, as God Almighty commanded: ‘And if they break their oaths after making a covenant [with the Muslims] and attack your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief—who never honour their oaths—so perhaps they will desist’ (Al-Tawba: 12).” If Muslims can create this atmosphere of terror, Al-Naba concludes, it “will prompt [Western] governments and companies to call on their people not to provoke Muslims because [such provocations] have an impact on the safety of their citizens”, as well as their economic interests, and it might even lead to laws protecting Islam.
An interesting aside: the picture that accompanies this article is from the 29 October attack in Nice, where a jihadist murdered three people at a Catholic church, including beheading one elderly woman inside the church; neither this article, nor Al-Naba 258 as a whole, mentions the Nice attack, not even in passing, let alone to claim it.