Deeply saddened by what took place in Paris. My sincerest condolences to anyone affected by the tragedy.
As for the political ramifications, I think Juan Cole’s take on the subject after the Charlie Hebdo attacks was spot on, and believe his point still applies. I borrowed the term “sharpening the contradictions” from him.
The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qaeda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. French Muslims may be the most secular Muslim-heritage population in the world…Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination…‘Sharpening the contradictions’ is the strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians, aimed at unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance and preying on them, mobilizing their energies and wealth for the perverted purposes of a self-styled great leader…The only effective response to this manipulative strategy…is to resist the impulse to blame an entire group for the actions of a few and to refuse to carry out identity-politics reprisals.