1 April 2013

Revoking AFSPA would be a folly

30 Mar , 2013 

The new phase of violence that has swept Kashmir once again highlights the fact that the overall situation remains on knife’s edge. Militants disguised as cricketers killed five paramilitary troopers after sneaking into a CRPF camp adjoining a school in Bemina area of Srinagar. As many as 18 people including 15 CRPF jawans and three civilians were also injured in the attack. The horrendous attack on the CRPF camp, which is the first major attack after a virtual lull of three years, proves yet again that terrorists continue to pose serious threat to the lives and liberty of people in the Valley. Painting a rosy picture with officially provided figures will not do. And it is a grim reminder that the threat of terrorism hasn’t gone away which requires that we remain on guard. 

As long as Pakistan continues to support terror activities in India, there is no way the government can withdraw AFSPA from Kashmir. 

Indeed, in recent days the Valley has been in a state of turmoil first over the hanging of Parliament accused Afzal Guru and then the killing of a young man during a demonstration in Baramulla. In fact, the attack was carried out on a day Kashmiri separatist groups in the Valley had called for a shutdown demanding the return of the body of Afzal Guru, who was hanged and subsequently buried in Delhi’s Tihar Jail for his role in the 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament. It needs to be mentioned that separatism has a very long history in Kashmir and lies simmering under the surface. Despite the yearning for some governance, manifested in the people’s participation in elections, underlying tensions need but a spark to make a conflagration be it over the Pathribal case or an incident like the current one. So Afzal Guru’s execution is nothing more than another opportunity for militant groups to keep Kashmir on the boil. 

The recent unfortunate incident has been part of the pattern in the Valley involving anti-national forces. They have always tried to exploit every development to promote their nefarious designs and Afzal Guru’s hanging has given them a handle to hit the headlines. It is in this context that hardline separatist elements have been calling for bandhs to make their presence felt. In fact the hartal in the Valley on Wednesday was on account of Union Home Minister Shushilkumar Shinde’s rejection of demands for exhuming Afzal’s body to hand over to his family. 

While the recent incidents leave no one in doubt about the volatile situation in the Valley, the suicide attack brings into sharp focus the debate on AFSPA. Though the security agencies and armed forces strongly oppose the repel of the Act from the Valley, the politicians including J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, oddly enough, want to replace it with an Act that empowers the state police with draconian powers. So the back and forth on AFSPA continues even as violence aided and abetted by elements across the border threatens to make a comeback. 

Natural partners: Why India needs to get closer to Japan

By Rajeev Sharma 

The coming few months are going to be crucial for the Indian diplomacy even though the Indian politics is in a tailspin and the UPA government not in the pink of health. 

India is set to intensify its bilateral engagement with such major world powers as Germany, Japan and China. Perhaps the most defining of these engagements would be with Japan, a “swing” country for India to counterbalance the China factor. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Japan by May-end; but more about it slightly later. 

Shortly after that he is likely to visit China on a bilateral visit. However, it is but obvious that even if the PM’s visits to Japan and China are back-to-back, the two destinations won’t be clubbed in the PM’s itinerary as it would be bad diplomacy on part of India and would send wrong signals to both the receiving states. 

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda chats with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an East Asia Summit dinner in Phnom Penh, November 19, 2012. Reuters 

In June, India is hosting the next IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) summit, whose biggest USP is that IBSA is an outfit that is sought by the Chinese to be rendered infructuous after BRICS but India is determined to continue with IBSA as well. The China angle is important in IBSA by virtue of its absence! 

Ten days later Manmohan Singh would be in Germany for a bilateral visit (April 10-11). The importance of Germany cannot be overstated. Germany is Europe’s largest economy and also the most populous nation on the continent, having overtaken Russia. Germany contributes 23 percent of the European Union budget. It is India’s biggest trading partner in Europe (with bilateral trade hovering around 20 billlion USD) and the 5th biggest trading partner in the world. Germany is also India’s second largest technology partner. 

India and Germany have a strategic partnership since 2001, which has been further strengthened with the first Intergovernmental Consultations held in May 2011. India is the first country in Asia (besides Israel,) and the only country outside Europe to have intergovernmental consultations with Germany. 

India and Germany also have several institutionalized arrangements like a strategic dialogue, foreign office consultations, and joint commission on industrial and economic cooperation, defence committee dialogue and a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism to discuss various bilateral and global issues of interest. 

The agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can be gauged by this brief introduction of Germany and Indo-German relations. 

The importance of being Indian: Despite its warts, India’s democracy has fired global imagination for over six decades

Mar 30, 2013

It is not the politest thing to do, but it has to be done. We need to drop Brics, or at least not take it too seriously, and step out on our own. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa may look a little like us, but deep down this resemblance is superficial. Brics is a catch-up club that turns to richer, fatter countries for inspiration, but India, in many ways, is inspiration itself.

When India dared to birth democracy, many thought it was premature and that it would soon be history. Sixty-six action-filled years later, India's democracy is now a little too old to die young. What is more, the world watches every move we make; in fact, cannot have enough of us. This is not because India is efficient and affluent - far from it. Rather, it is the way India goes wrong that fires global imagination.

In any other country of comparative vintage and want, ethnicity, once introduced, would have run wild. Indian politici-ans too have repeatedly played this dirty trick, but our democracy has limited its appeal. The ultra corrupt may be ultra rich but because of India's judiciary and the press they often wake up in jail to swill bad tea. Even army officers might face court martial if they mess with the rules. Political bosses, and their cronies, are forever bending and twisting the law, but for all their power and pelf, they can never quite ignore it.

Indian politicians err time and again, but their overbites serve as object lessons because procedures hold. This not only pulls us out of periodic crises with a just-back-from-the-dentist feel, but also tells the world, the advanced West included, how easily democracy can be lost. If India had been another underperforming tin-pot dictatorship, it would not have been the thought experiment it is today.

Take a look at the following:

Corruption, assaults and poli-tical conspiracies happen worldwide, but when they strike India they excite the mind like nothing else. For example, South Africa is a serious centre of gang rapes, or "jack rolling" in the local lingo, but that does not cause an international stir. Yet the news of the December rape and murder in Delhi ricocheted within minutes across the world.

This was not because the protests were passionate, or because the police should have gone to a finishing school. What was being observed was whether our Cons-titution would hold. Eventually it did; false cases were withdrawn and, boorish cops notwithstanding, no bullets were fired.

The Dragon Covets the Arctic


China’s lust for oil, minerals, rare earths, fish and desire for an alternative northern sea route boils the Arctic Geopolitics! 


Iceland is a small, sparsely populated island nation with a population of only 320,000 and area of 40,000 square miles. It is the only member of the NATO that does not have an army of its own. Icelandic banks were part of the 2008 global financial crisis and meltdown when they exposed the Icelandic government of huge financial risks by indulging in risky loans and speculative foreign currency transactions without having enough liquidity and capital reserves. The fiscal crisis led to a former Icelandic prime minister losing his job and being hauled to court of law for not supervising the banks enough. 

In an international capitalistic, mercantile system, if Iceland were a company, it was “sitting duck” for outright purchase and acquisition. Fortunately, foreigners are not allowed to buy any property or real estate in Iceland and need a special permit.

And here comes the Peoples’ Republic of China, rich with $ 3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in its kitty. It has built a palatial embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland worth $250 million with only 7 accredited diplomats. China is negotiating a free trade area with Iceland, the first with any European nation. Former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao even paid a state visit to Iceland for two full days in 2012. Other Chinese ministers and officials have also been very active in Iceland with bilateral visits and cultural events.

In 2010, Huang Nubo, a “poetry loving” Chinese billionaire and former communist party official visited Iceland to meet his former classmate Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a Chinese translator with whom he had shared a room in 1970s in the Peking University. He expressed his intense love for poetry and put up $ one million to finance Iceland-China Cultural Fund and organized two poetry summits, the first one in Reykjavik in 2010 and the second one in Beijing in 2011.

Last year (2012), Huang Nubo and his Beijing based company, the Zhongkun group offered to buy 300 sq km of Icelandic land ostensibly to develop a holiday resort with a golf course. This Chinese billionaire wanted to pay $7million to an Icelandic sheep farmer to take over the land and build a $100 million 100-room five star resort hotel, luxury villas, an eco-golf course and an airstrip with 10 aircrafts. A state owned Chinese bank reportedly offered the Zhongkun group a soft loan of $ 800 million for this project.

The deal was blocked by the Icelandic Interior Minister who asked many pertinent questions but reportedly got no answers. Huang would not take no for an answer and has submitted a revised bid for leasing the land for $ one million instead of outright purchase. He makes an unbelievable assertion that there is a market demand for peace and solitude: “Rich Chinese people are so fed up of pollution that they would like to enjoy the fresh air and solitude of the snowy Iceland”.

The current Icelandic government, a left-of-center coalition has given this proposal a cold shoulder. But, with elections due in April 2013 in Iceland, China is hoping for a more sympathetic government to approve the project. Iceland looks like an easy bird of prey for the wily red Dragon with insatiable appetite.

Don’t Break the China

We need Beijing as an ally against anarchy.

Much is made of the analogy between the relationship of the U.S. to China today and that of Great Britain to Imperial Germany before World War I. Just as Germany had risen quickly to become a world economic power, so has China. Germany, driven by nationalism, sought commensurate military, naval, and diplomatic power, as does China. As young powers, both Germany then and China now were sometimes brash in ways that were not in their own interest. Both challenged the dominant power at sea, though they had no pressing need to do so. 

But there is another side to the analogy, one that cautions Washington. Britain handled Germany’s rise poorly. She waged aggressive war on the Boers, a people the Germans regarded as close kin, and alienated German public opinion. The Kaiser was left in the awkward position of being more pro-British than his people. In the Entente Cordiale, Britain entered into an extra-constitutional and strategically unnecessary alliance aimed at containing Germany. In 1914, while Kaiser Wilhelm II did not want war, some important Britons did, including Churchill and, disastrously, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey. 

As Washington “rebalances” its military toward Asia, we too are handling a rising power poorly. The Obama administration’s resolve to build up American air and naval forces in the Pacific can be aimed at only one country, China. Our recent offhand guarantee to Japan over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has a chilling echo of 1914. Like Britain before World War I, we appear unwilling to countenance the natural rise of a new power; we act as if foreign policy were merely a child’s game of king of the hill. Elements in the Pentagon see a sea and air war with China as a way to recoup their failures in recent land wars, as well as justify their budgets. 

What would a conservative policy toward China look like, one that proceeded from Russell Kirk’s politics of prudence? It would arise from recognition of a paradigm shift of rare historic dimensions in the grand-strategic environment. The rise of Fourth Generation war—war waged by non-state entities—has made conflict between states obsolete. 

As this kind of war spreads across the globe, defeating one national military after another, it puts at risk the state system itself. It also defines the 21st century as one in which the decisive conflict will be between order and disorder. The state represents order, and order is conservatism’s first objective. Conservatives are on the side of the state, and a conservative foreign policy seeks above all maintenance of the state system. That in turn requires an alliance of all states, including China, against non-state forces. 

Creeping Chinese Colonisation around the World

By Vinod Saighal
March 31, 2013 

It has been in the news since long that the CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation) would soon be completing construction of the natural gas pipeline from the Rakhine coast in Myanmar to Kunming in China. The pipeline will traverse nearly 800 KM from the Island of Kyaukpyu to Yunnan. The natural gas pipeline is not the only project linking Kyankpyu Island. CNPC is also building an oil pipeline alongside the gas pipeline. Additionally, China plans to build a highway and a high speed rail link between Kyankpyu and Yunnan. Whatever the size of the infrastructure that will develop around the Kyankpyu terminal – the pattern is being repeated in Hambantota and Gwadar, possibly Chittagong as well – the fact remains that in Myanmar the Chinese will be able to push in thousands of labourers, many of whom will marry locally and create a sizeable Chinese community. 

It has happened in Angola and elsewhere in Africa. What should be more worrying to India and ultimately to Myanmar as well is that the 800 KM long oil, gas, rail and road corridors will present the Chinese with an opportunity to demand at least one thousand or minimum 500 meters land corridor on either side along the entire 800 KM stretch for maintenance and other purposes. 800 KM X 1000M represents a huge swath of territory, which (again) for all practical purposes will be held by China with settlements of Chinese labourers and their families all along. The import of this large-scale semi-permanent or permanent Chinese influx cannot be lost on either India or Myanmar. 

Before the agreements are finalised, Myanmar and India must hold talks to ensure adequate safeguards to obviate a permanent influx of large Chinese settlers. Concomitantly, massive felling of virgin tracts on either side will also take place unless China is prevented from doing so or obliged to keep felling to the bare minimum. It is a potential threat to both countries. Possibility of diversification with Japanese, Indian or Western companies and insistence on local labour being trained for the purpose, with limits on Chinese labour should be gone into at this juncture. Nobody can hazard a guess on the exact figure, but a million plus Chinese could already have crossed over into Northern Myanmar from Yunnan. There is not very much that theMyanmar government can do about it. 

A diplomat from one of the Central Asian countries bordering China - actually the Chinese province of Xinjian expressed fears – evidently off the record – that his country was worried about the increasing influx of Chinese people in the border region. According to the laws of his country they were not allowed to own land; so many Chinese are now marrying locals to get over that difficulty. The Head of another country bordering Xinjian told a top EU diplomat a few years ago that (at the time) there were approximately 30 million Han Chinese opposite his country; when the figure touched 300 million, he said, they would have a big problem on their hands. As it turns out, with the increased pace of infrastructure development westwards tens of millions of Chinese will move into Xinjian much sooner than the head of state had anticipated – as is happening currently in Tibet. Several million will cross over into the open spaces in the sparsely populated Kazakhstan: quite a large number would have already moved in. Both the Russians and the Kazakhs are aware of the creeping movement into their regions adjoining China. As members of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation they have not raised their voices. 

Many countries in Africa are alive to the problem as well. A few have gone on record to demand greater employment for locals on the large infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Chinese. The latter have stalled on these requests by saying that the locals were not skilled enough for the job and that language difficulties would delay the projects. China has been in Africa now for many years, the second time around. They have not even attempted to meet the local aspirations by training locals to fill the jobs. Instead Chinese workers are herded together in labour camps and shifted with the progress of the projects. It is said that the Chinese workers brought in from mainland China are paid comparatively low wages when compared with those paid by other countries implementing projects in Africa. Details are not easily forthcoming and the actual situation cannot be independently confirmed by outsiders. 

The African Century

The unlucky continent finally seems to be on a real path to growth, but is democracy essential to sustain Africa’s rise? 

MARCH 29, 2013 

Call me a cynic, but I've been skeptical of the African economic miracle story. We keep hearing that "six of the world's ten fastest growing economies" over the last decade are in sub-Saharan Africa, but rarely that three of those six -- Angola, Chad, and Nigeria -- depend on oil, and thus could fall to earth as prices decline. But the Economist has convinced me that growth is broader and deeper than I thought. Its recent special report, "A Hopeful Continent," notes that across Africa income per capita has grown 30 percent over the last decade, after having shrunk 10 percent over the previous 20 years. Projected growth over the next decade is 6 percent annually. 

That leaves me with a few questions: What does that tell us about development policy? Is this a story about aid? Democracy? Economic policy? The commodities markets? 

First of all, is the boom even real? Is Africa itself hopeful, or just little bits of it? Todd Moss, head of the Emerging Africa Project at the Center for Global Development, says that he views the changes in Africa as "big and important and historically different from the past," but he adds that "the dominant trend is divergence among countries." For every Ghana or Ethiopia that is making durable progress, there is a Chad that is "stuck in the past and free-riding on the commodities boom." Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is somewhere in the middle, its banking sector set to dominate the continent while the mighty torrent of oil money corrupts politics and barely reaches the poor. 

But there's no question about what distinguishes the success stories from the failures -- governance. Moss points out that about half of African contrives have improved on indicators of good governance, and half haven't. Oliver August, author of the Economist report (yes, the famously anonymous "newspaper" now seems to award bylines for its most ambitious efforts), noted that he traveled 15,800 miles over Africa's roads without once being asked for a bribe. 

I was astonished at the description of West Africa, a region I've visited three times over the last decade and viewed as a sinkhole of ethnic violence, big-man government, and drug money corruption. In Senegal, August notes, the apparently ageless President Abdoulaye Wade was ridiculed when he tried to stand for a third term despite a constitutional prohibition; in Guinea, a virtual narco-state five years ago, a civilian leader has put the generals in their place; Sierra Leone is at peace; and Ivory Coast is coming back to life after a civil war. On the other hand, Mali, which in 2007 hosted the biennial meeting of the Community of Democracies, is now a barely governed mess. 

America the Innovative?

March 30, 2013 

CONGRESS might be at loggerheads, the unemployment rate might be too high and America’s infrastructure might be crumbling — but Americans of all political viewpoints comfort themselves with the notion that at least they lead the world in high technology and always will. 

It’s a pleasing, convenient idea. China can’t outrun the United States, because it’s not creative enough. It’s authoritarian. Democracy is central to innovation, according to this comforting scenario. 

Although America has accounted for a sizable share of all technological innovations that have shaped our modern world, the wider historical evidence is disappointing for anyone who thinks political freedom is a fundamental precondition for innovation. 

Few of the most creative societies of the ancient world were free. Certainly not Mesopotamia or Egypt. As for the spectacular creativity of early modern Europe, this somehow flourished alongside bloodcurdling efforts at mind control. More recently, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with authoritarian cultures, punched well above their weight in innovation. 

Even the evidence of America’s own history undercuts the “all you need is freedom” story. Though from the start freedom was central to the country’s political culture, Americans have not always ranked as technological leaders. America’s technological coming of age was remarkably recent. As Ralph Gomory, former head of I.B.M.’s research department pointed out to me in an interview, America was noted up to the 1930s mainly as an inspired adapter of other nations’ technologies — a role similar to that of Japan and other East Asian nations in more recent times. 

How do we explain America’s sudden mid-20th-century ascent to technological glory? The credit goes not to freedom but to something more prosaic: money. With World War II, the United States government joined corporations in ramping up spending on R&D, and then came the cold war and the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik in 1957, which gave further impetus to government-funded research. One result was Darpa, which helped develop the Internet. 

Throughout history, rich nations have gotten to the future first. Their companies can afford to equip their tinkerers and visionaries with the most advanced materials, instruments and knowledge. 

The Realist Prism: Closing the Window of Opportunity for Iran Diplomacy

29 Mar 2013

While American policymakers are fond of repeating the mantra that "all options are on the table" when it comes to dealing with Iran and its nuclear program, the president publicly took one option off the table during his recent visit to Israel: Speaking to college students, Barack Obama reiterated, "Iran must not get a nuclear weapon. This is not a danger that can be contained."

If the Obama administration has indeed definitively rejected containment as an option, the United States will not develop contingencies for if and when Iran crosses the nuclear threshold. That means Washington is now committed to preventing Iran not only from acquiring any sort of deployable nuclear capability, but also, implicitly, from reaching the breakout stage where Tehran would possess the necessary capabilities to quickly assemble a bomb. This puts Washington further away from the Russian position, for instance, which is in full agreement that Iran should not possess a nuclear weapon but is far more agnostic on whether Iran can be trusted with the technological building blocks from which a weapon might be fabricated. The United States, in contrast, is not willing to take the risk of Iran even having the tools to construct any sort of nuclear device. 

Whereas containment might entail a policy of stringent monitoring to prevent Iran from building an actual weapon, under the position Obama staked out in Israel, the United States is committed to the dismantling of Iran's nuclear efforts back to the point from which it would be impossible to create weapons. Most prominently, this means rolling back Iran's domestic uranium enrichment capabilities, but related issues, such as Iran's development of ballistic missiles, also remain sticking points in the negotiations between Iran and the West.

If containment is no longer an option, moreover, then achieving these goals can only occur through Iran voluntarily agreeing to them or by the use of external pressure to compel the Islamic Republic to cease and desist in its nuclear efforts. There is no enthusiasm for embracing the military option, especially so long as events on the Korean Peninsula remain unsettled. Sanctions have definitely taken a toll on Tehran's economic health, but they have not, as of yet, produced a groundswell of activism that would indicate that the regime is in any danger of being toppled from below.

So the Obama administration finds itself coming full circle to where it was four years ago -- hoping that a window of opportunity may open as a result of Iran's upcoming presidential election, which will be held in June. Moreover, given the two-term limit written into Iran's constitution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current incumbent, cannot run again. Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was one of the stumbling blocks to diplomacy. There is a good chance that he will be followed in the presidential chair by a more "diplomatic" figure, and several of the prospective replacements, such as Ali Larijani, Saeed Jalili and Ali Akbar Velayati, have had actual diplomatic experience, including engaging in demarches with Western officials. 

An Inconvenient or Irritating Truth: Applying Law to the New Face of Modern Warfare

March 28, 2013 

In war, there are rules. Some were written long ago in treaties. Others are found in binding customs written in volumes of commentary compiled over time. The point is that these rules can all be found in written form to cite and to reference. They can be used to describe who can be targeted in conflict and explain why hospitals and cultural property are largely off limits in war. They draw lines for when states can attack other states and what threshold determines when an attack has crossed the line. Importantly for civilians, these rules describe when a civilian loses the protection of these rules and may be targeted for taking direct participation in hostilities. As technology has evolved, transforming weapons from missiles to malware, no one bothered to write down what rules might apply to the new face of modern warfare; until now. 

The Atlantic Council is proud to host the US release of the Tallinn Manual. Get more information on the event.
The Tallinn Manual, a three-year project sponsored by NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, finally carves out in writing how the laws of war extend to regulate conflicts in cyberspace. The group includes distinguished legal academics, practitioners, and military lawyers from NATO countries, working alongside non-voting observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross, United States Cyber Command, and NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. The result is not a statement of official policy by NATO or any of its member governments, but rather reflects a consensus view of the group’s members in their personal capacities. 

Decision makers, pundits, and analysts have relied on legal ambiguity to rhetorically ask, without answering, whether international laws of armed conflict apply to cyberspace or if a new treaty is required to establish binding rules. In a sound and unanimous response, the authors of the Tallinn Manual rejected any characterization of cyberspace as a distinct domain subject to a discrete body of law. Instead, they started from the premise that to conduct cyber activities, a person must be located at a particular place using tangible infrastructure. Therefore, “the mere fact that a computer (rather than a more traditional weapon, weapon system, or platform) is used during an operation has no bearing on whether that operation amounts to a ‘use of force.’” From this conclusion, determining what relevant legal principles from international law should be applied to a specific cyber activity is merely a matter of identifying the person, place, object, or type of activity in question. 

One of the most widely accepted international legal principles is set forth in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter: “All Members [of the United Nations] shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” This is the phrase that makes it a violation of international law for one state to attack another state without first qualifying under specific exceptions for either self-defense or UN Security Council authorization. 

In France, the Submission that Dare Not Speak Its Name

March 31, 2013

Exactly one year ago, a killer entered the courtyard of a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, and shot in cold blood a rabbi and three children. He said he had wanted to kill more, and to perpetrate a massacre, but that his gun jammed. 

During the previous days, he had shot three French soldiers of Arab origin. 

The killer was quickly located, besieged by the police for thirty two hours, then riddled with bullets when he tried to escape. 

A few weeks later, his statements to the police during the siege were leaked. They showed that he defined himself as a "soldier of Islam" and that he was trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan by al Qaeda affiliates. He said that he wanted to kill French Arab soldiers because they were "traitors to their religion" and that "all traitors" had to be "eliminated." He also said that he hated "Jews," that Jews had to be "removed form the face of the earth" and that his only regret was that he did not have "the opportunity to kill more Jews." Political leaders and the mainstream media immediately said that these statements did not make sense, and they tried to describe him as a "lone wolf" and a "lost boy" who acted "irrationally." Sociologists explained that he'd had a "hard childhood," and that he'd had to face "French prejudices" all of his life. Radical Islam and hatred of Jews were almost never evoked. 

In the months that followed, he became a hero -- almost a legend -- in all French Muslim suburbs. His name, Mohamed Merah, appeared on leaflets and graffiti, and was quoted with praise in rap songs. The number of anti-Semitic attacks increased all over the country: reports show that most perpetrators were young Muslims citing "Mohamed" as an "example" to follow. Two jihadist terrorist cells planning anti-Semitic attacks and assassinations of prominent Jews were dismantled: their members declared after their arrest that they wanted to die as martyrs, and kill Jews, "like Mohamed," who "showed the way." Political leaders and the mainstream media did not speak of leaflets, graffiti, rap songs, anti-Semitic attacks, or references to "Mohamed." They spoke of the dismantling of "terrorist cells" -- as if the cells had no relation to "Mohamed."

The anniversary of the crimes committed by "Mohamed" came, and what happened was not surprising: Reports were broadcast on television concerning "Mohamed," his life and his acts. Pictures of a smiling Mohamed were on the cover of magazines everywhere. Photos were shown of his travels. One of the main French TV channels programmed a "Mohamed Merah Special Evening." 

Sociologists were invited. Mohamed's sister, Souad, and his mother, Zoulika, both fully veiled, were interviewed extensively. They said that Mohamed was a "sweet young man" and a "good Muslim," who committed an "inexplicable acts." Mohamed's lawyer said that his client was "depressed." Souad, filmed by a hidden camera a few weeks earlier, stated that, "Mohamed had fought well and bravely," and that "Jews deserved to be killed;" but what she said then, when she thought that nobody was listening, seemed of interest to nobody. Mohamed's elder brother, Abdelghani, published a book, My Brother, this Terrorist, explaining that all his family was radicalized; that he was scared and that he had a "duty to speak," but nobody gave him a chance. His name was not even mentioned.