Muslim extremists can indeed be pretty intimidating. They intimidate scholars in universities, UN officials, journalists, NGO activists, and everyday people. When you face bullies you naturally get scared. You then have two choices: to confront or befriend them. But confronting bullies requires courage and strength, and the enablers may lack both. When you lack the means to address the threat effectively, when your anger is useless and you feel helpless, a defense mechanism called ‘Identification with the aggressor’ can come into play. It’s an attempt to make sense of the aggressor’s behavior and turn hard feelings into sympathy, which is a more convenient emotion. Sympathy towards the bullies won’t get you into trouble with them. The UN secretary general expressed this well: “The attack did not take place in vacuum”. Such understanding effectively condones violent acts. We should not be surprised if more violence follows.