France’s dilemma is how to fight ISIS without becoming another ISIS


“Where is your boyfriend?” “He’s not my boyfriend!” Hasna Aitboulahcen said, and blew herself up in the sight of the police.

This happened a few hours ago, at the same flat were Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, was found dead among the rubble.

Abaaoud was killed during the raid. He was 28. It is not clear when he got radicalised. He had also recruited his 13-year-old younger brother into ISIS.

Abaaoud was not ignorant, uneducated or handicapped. He attended one of Belgium’s top secondary schools – Saint-Pierre d’Uccle. He directed the operation. He knew what he was doing.

Terrorism is the materialization of evil, of fear of despair. But the human spirit is not easily cowed. Great disasters, hatred and abominable injustices often bring out the best in humanity.

Antoine Leiris, a Parisian, lost his young and beautiful wife in last Thursday’s terror attacks at a concert hall in Paris.

Antoine’s Facebook message has gone viral. He wrote:

“On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.

I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know — you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.

So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.

You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.

Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.

We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.

I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”

The terrorist attacks in Paris are a recent example of the pitiable confusion between good and evil.

A message linked to ISIS has been doing the rounds on social media. It praises the Paris attacks. The brief statement paints a very glorified image of the terrorists as “a group of believers who divorced the worldly life and advanced towards their enemy”.

How could killing innocent civilians be good? How can good and evil be so confused? Can they be reconciled?

Sadly, this answer will never be found in a relativistic world, where one man’s meat is the other’s poison.

After the attacks in Paris, American Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been advocating for the profiling of every Muslim in America. How absurd!

These cheap and irresponsible answers cede victory to the terrorists. That’s what they want, to create terror, to destroy the state from within, to instil fear of life and fear of freedom.

This is why the fight against terror poses a very delicate and fragile balance between human rights and security. These are not mutually exclusive, but the way we have been approaching security poses a real threat to human rights. In a very subtle way, almost unnoticed, a state can become another ISIS.


President Hollande is between a rock and hard place. He needs to show action, but any wrong move at this point has the power of turning France into another ISIS, by lowering itself to ISIS levels.

What is good and what is evil? Who determines what is good and what criteria do they use? Why should we do good and avoid evil?

Definitely, I do not desire to explore any of these questions. But one thing is worth considering — good and evil have always been scrambling for dominance. They do not meet, at least not in themselves. They imply absolute differences.

The presence of good means the absence of evil, and the other way around. Without a good sense of judgment and consideration, we may fall into clouded judgments and turn ourselves into brutes, into neo-terrorists.

The war on terrorism is an unconventional war. It calls for ingenuity, intelligence, shrewdness, speed and patience. It is always a must not to lose sight of the ultimate goal, to defeat evil without joining it.