The blood on the streets of Paris caused by Islamist gunmen is shocking and disturbing, but not surprising. Jihadists engaged in several prior attempts to shut down the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper that lampoons Islam, among others. In fact, Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity satirist.

Most significant is the fact that this murderous act is consistent with Islamic law and the tenets of sharia, notwithstanding public commentary that denies this reality. What Charlie Hebdo printed, which led to the bloodshed, is the savage truth.


Curiously, the week before this incident, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking before Al-Azhar University officials on the occasion of the prophet Mohammed's upcoming birthday, offered a renewed vision of Islam, one that he insisted is necessary for Islam to coexist with the West and different traditions. In a sense, his words take on a certain poignancy because of the violence perpetrated against the Paris paper.

Among other things, Sisi said that the "corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years are antagonizing the entire world." He noted, quite courageously in my opinion, that it is not "possible that 1.6 billion people [his estimate of global Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants — this 7 billion — so that they themselves may live." In the matter of Egypt, he said his nation "is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands."

There is little doubt these are revolutionary comments that should be welcomed in the West. Sisi is the contemporary Martin Luther. Yet remarkably, they have received scant attention. They were certainly not imbibed by jihadists in Paris.

Sisi not only made these comments in defiance of general opinion; he made his speech to an assembly of scholars. He even referred to their being trapped within a mindset. As he maintained, "You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened, perspective." The "it" in that sentence reflects a literal interpretation of the Koran and Hadith. He ended on the following note: "I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution."

This may be the most important speech in a generation. It requires a response from President Obama, who has been conspicuously silent on the matter. It requires a European reaction with perhaps three cheers echoing through the halls of EU headquarters in Brussels. It should invoke commentary across Islamic nations. And it should provoke a response from the West, which will serve as a deterrent to jihadist violence. Sisi has set the stage. If Islam is to coexist with the West, violent dimensions of the Koran must be redrawn or reinterpreted. As Sisi noted, the revolution is necessary; as the Paris incident suggests, the time to begin is now.

London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.