Archive for the ‘French Politics’ Category
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) Rainham North candidate Paul Dennis was told he had no votes in the London constituency after they were counted on May 7.
Tusc said it will now petition Medway Council over the result. Mr Dennis says he should have got at least two votes as he claims that both he and his wife voted for him.
A Leftist Trainspotter comments:
The previous victory was held by Les Comités communistes pour l’autogestion who managed the stunning feat in the 18th arrondissement (Paris) in the 1981 French legislative elections.
Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe.
“We are still in the early stages of building a left challenge to Labour. To increase the vote for TUSC among a big swing to the right is a real achievement.”
In some areas the results were more disappointing—particularly where the share of the left vote fell.
Other left candidates also suffered setbacks. Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway lost his seat to Labour. He had won it from Labour in a landslide by-election victory in a 2012 .
But TUSC activists used the campaigns to build the fight against austerity after the election.
Jenny told Socialist Worker, “The point was to build a network of activists on the ground—that’s exactly what we’ve done in Tottenham.
“Even though our support wasn’t reflected in the vote we were very successful in getting out the message that austerity is a con in the interests of the rich.
“Things don’t change in parliament unless there’s a movement on the streets—that’s the next step.”
The task now is to build on the networks established through the campaigning. The result of the election shows the need to fight for a more united left wing alternative.
Jenny said, “We’re going to follow up our campaign with a public meeting on housing and regeneration—and we’ll be having regular meetings around the cuts.
“One thing is clear is—we can’t wait for Labour. There’s no option but to fight.”
Femen Protest Disrupt French Far-Right May Day Rally.
Femen crashes Marine Le Pen’s May Day Front National speech. (Deutsche Welle)
Three Femen activists have disrupted Marine Le Pen’s planned May Day speech in Paris, with slogans like “Heil Le Pen” and “Stop Fascism” painted on their bare chests. Le Pen’s father played an uninvited cameo role too.
A Marine Le Pen speech designed as an attack on her political rivals in France was hijacked both by feminist activists and by Le Pen’s 86-year-old father on Friday.
Three Femen members, topless with slogans criticizing Le Pen’s Front National (FN) party on their chests and backs, gained access to the balcony from which the FN leader was speaking. They unfurled two large banners reading “Heil Le Pen” and stood side-by-side carrying out a Nazi salute.
Reports indicate that the Femen activists were initially removed by the staff of the Hotel where they had begun their protest and then violently assaulted by the Front National’s ‘Service d’ordre’ (Libération)
Selon l’avocat des Femen, interrogé par France TV Info, les activistes vont porter plainte contre X pour «violences, violation de domicile et arrestation arbitraire». De son côté, le FN a promis une plainte contre les Femen pour «violences volontaires» et «atteintes à a liberté de manifeste».
According to the lawyer of Femen, speaking to France TV Info, the activists will begin legal proceedings against ‘X’ for “violence, violation of their home (that is, having paid for the Hotel room), and arbitrary arrest. For their part the Front National has also made a legal complaint against the Femen protesters for ‘deliberate violence’ and ‘ damage to the freedom to demonstrate’.
Journalists were also caught up in the mêlée.
Some have accused the Front National of manhandling and punching them.
The List of Honour of those who Back Charlie and Freedom.
On World Press Freedom Day, 116 days after the attack at the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 11 dead and 12 wounded, we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to defending the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that we and others may find difficult, or even offensive.
The Charlie Hebdo attack – a horrific reminder of the violence many journalists around the world face daily in the course of their work – provoked a series of worrying reactions across the globe.
In January, the office of the German daily Hamburger Morgenpost was firebombed following the paper’s publishing of several Charlie Hebdo images. In Turkey, journalists reported receiving death threats following their re-publishing of images taken from Charlie Hebdo. In February, a gunman apparently inspired by the attack in Paris, opened fire at a free expression event in Copenhagen; his target was a controversial Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet Muhammad in his drawings.
But many of the most disturbing reactions – and the most serious threats to freedom of expression – have come from governments.
A Turkish court blocked web pages that had carried images of Charlie Hebdo’s front cover; Russia’s communications watchdog warned six media outlets that publishing religious-themed cartoons “could be viewed as a violation of the laws on mass media and extremism”; Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi empowered the prime minister to ban any foreign publication deemed offensive to religion; the editor of the Kenyan newspaper The Star was summoned by the government’s media council, asked to explain his “unprofessional conduct” in publishing images of Charlie Hebdo, and his newspaper had to issue a public apology; Senegal banned Charlie Hebdo and other publications that re-printed its images; in India, Mumbai police used laws covering threats to public order and offensive content to block access to websites carrying Charlie Hebdo images. This list is far from exhaustive.
Perhaps the most long-reaching threats to freedom of expression have come from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries, including France, Britain and Germany, issued a statement in which they called on internet service providers to identify and remove online content “that aims to incite hatred and terror”. In the UK, despite the already gross intrusion of the British intelligence services into private data, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that the country should go a step further and ban internet services that did not give the government the ability to monitor all encrypted chats and calls.
This kind of governmental response is chilling because a particularly insidious threat to our right to free expression is self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the state. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.
On World Press Freedom Day, we, the undersigned, call on all governments to;
- Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, especially journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely.
- Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, especially for journalists, artists and human rights defenders to perform their work without interference.
- Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others threatened for exercising their right to freedom of expression and ensure impartial, speedy, thorough, independent and effective investigations that bring masterminds behind attacks on journalists to justice, and ensure victims and their families have speedy access to appropriate remedies.
- Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially such as vague and overbroad national security, sedition, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence journalists and others exercising free expression
- Promote voluntary self-regulation mechanisms, completely independent of governments, for print media
- Ensure that the respect of human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Albanian Media Institute
Association of European Journalists
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Ethical Journalism Initiative
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Guardian News Media Limited
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association
PEN American Center
San Miguel Allende PEN
PEN South Africa
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Wales PEN Cymru
West African Journalists Association
World Press Freedom Committee.
Good on all who back this letter.
Vous serez honoré(e)s parmi toutes les Nations.
Partisans de la ligne de Charlie, Moblisez-Vous!
Here is the declaration of Shame.
Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, Joyce Carol Oates, Eric Bogosian and Michael Cunningham are among the 145 writers who have signed a letter protesting PEN American Center’s decision to award its “freedom of expression courage” award to the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, because the award seems to endorse drawings of the prophet Muhammad and other images that “must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering” among France’s embattled Muslims.
“It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic,” the letter states, referring to the attack by Islamic extremists in Paris in January. “What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo or what criteria exactly were used to make that decision.”
By honoring Charlie Hebdo, the letter said, “PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression but also valorizing selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list…..
British newspaper sends undercover journalists to gathering featuring speakers from Spain, Canada, UK and US
Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers gathered for a secret meeting at a London hotel last week, sparking outrage and prompting many to call for a police investigation, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
The gathering, which took place last Saturday at the Orient Suite in London’s Grosvenor Hotel, reportedly drew a range of speakers from Spain, Canada, the UK and the US.
“The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,” Jonathan Arkush, VP of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted by the Mail as saying. “On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offenses have been committed, including incitement to racial hatred.”
The British daily sent an undercover team of journalists to listen in on the event, which was attended by 113 people.
We would not normally cite the Daily Mail.
But this is important.
Nazi sympathisers at meeting laughed at Charlie Hebdo massacre and cheered at the mention of Spanish Fascists
In a room draped with the Union Flag, as the event called the London Forum unfolded, the audience:
- Sniggered at the mention of ‘ashes rising from the death camps’ crematoria’;
- Applauded as they were urged to ‘identify, counter and break … Jewish-Zionist domination’;
- Laughed at the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and as an African leader at the Paris memorial ceremony was described as ‘some Negro’;
- Cheered at the mention of a brigade of Spanish Fascists who fought for the Nazis;
- Heard gay parents branded ‘monster families’ and mixed race children described as ‘blackos’.
Last night, there were calls from Jewish community leaders for police to investigate the group for race hate crimes.
‘The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,’ said barrister Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
‘On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offences have been committed.
There are many points to be made about the ideology and activities of these people.
This is just one.
The next time people claiming to be on the left indulge in hate-speech against Charlie Hebdo, we hope they remember how the Nazis at this meeting reacted to the deaths of our beloved martyrs.
The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.
These are some comments on one section, About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.
The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with Gérard Noiriel. 2011). I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.
This, nevertheless, suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.
Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.
We have to begin, then, by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics. Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion.
Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.
I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.
Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:
• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;
• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;
• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!
It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.
Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.
It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.
Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.
There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.
UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels, single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.
But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule.
These reservations should not obscure the principal point that across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.
In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.
How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” . Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.
These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.
The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.
As a first step we have to look at what we should not do.
The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach. (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)
Mahamdallie works with this central premise,
Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.
This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.
‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:
local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.
These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….
Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.
But, (we learn)
…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.
It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.
No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..
We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.
Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.
But what of organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……
There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...
Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015) (1)
Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?
Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out
“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”
The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).
“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”
Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.
I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.
To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.
“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “
In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.
There is another example of this in the Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others). Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).
We wonder where this particular journey will end.
In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.
As the comrade says,
It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.
More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.
More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR): Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne ! (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).
Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn bytranslated into English.
The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).
Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……
(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.
Charb: Took Advantage of Own Death to Make Money, Says New Statesman Writer.
These are some extracts (adapted) from the book she is referring to:
“Racism and not of Islamophobia“The term ‘Islamophobia’ is badly chosen to designate the hatred that some cretins have of Muslims. It is not only badly chosen but it is also also dangerous.”Charb wrote:”Communitarian activists try to impose on the judicial and political authorities the notion of ‘Islamophobia’. This has no other purpose than to push the victims of racism to assert that they are Muslims (…) If tomorrow all French Muslims converted to Catholicism or abandoned their religion, this would not change the main racist discourse: that foreigners or those who are French but of foreign origin are and will be always be held responsible for every kind of fault. “
“The Qu’ran or the Bible does not read like Ikea assembly instructions”
If he criticised the term “Islamophobia” Charb recognised that there is indeed a fear of Islam. But if this worry is “absurd”, it “is not a crime,” he said.
“The problem is not the Koran or the Bible, which are sleep-inducing, incoherent and poorly written novels. The problem comes from a believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible as if they were the instructions of an Ikea shelf-kit.”
The author also believed that racist speech was unclenched under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and his ‘debate’ on national identity:
“When the highest authority in the State said (in effect) to every moron and fool, “say what you want, you lot’, what do you think these morons and fool will do? They began to say out loud what they had been content to yell at the end of every, well-oiled, family meal. “
Francois-Cerrah has a very different book on the “soporific” romance of the Qur’an.
“The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind. The opening of Al-Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognised, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realised that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible. In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?'”
We knew that she is one of the brigade of vultures who said of flocked around the attack on Charlie.
As she wrote in the New Statesman on January the 9th.
….they mocked the sacred symbols of many groups, but those of Muslims on a particularly frequent basis and in a distinctly racialised tone.
Not that this should ever warrant a violent response, but the eulogising of the magazine for some sort of mastery of European satirical tradition is a white wash of its chequered history as well as a capitulation to a simplistic narrative of “you’re either with the racist satirists or you’re with the terrorists”.
In weasel words she continued,
We must ensure slogans of solidarity become more than just narrow and questionable support for the targeted publication and instead provide resistance to all those voices which seek to divide France, to entrench camps and harden the already worrying divides.
Poor old Francois-Cerrah…..
Just couldn’t resist another dig at the corpses of our martyrs.
More on Charb’s much more interesting book:
A book written by the late editor of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier – known as Charb – is set to be published posthumously.
The book, which upholds the right to ridicule religion, was finished two days before Charb was killed by Islamic militants in January, publishers say.
It argues that the fight against racism is being replaced by a misguided struggle against “Islamophobia”.
Charb and 11 others were killed during a Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting.
The attack on the Paris offices of the newspaper was carried out by two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were later shot dead by police.
Charb had received numerous death threats following Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2012.
Charb’s book – which goes on sale on Thursday – is entitled An Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia who Play into Racists’ Hands.
It is both a defence of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial stance and an attack on the paper’s detractors.
“The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more prickly that the rest of the population – what is that, if not discrimination?”
He condemns this position as “white, left-wing bourgeois intellectual paternalism”.
There is also this, just out, on the book which was being written before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher supermarket:
Daniel Bensaïd: Illustrated by Charlie Hebdo Editor, ‘Charb’.
Book Launch (Daniel and Charb)
Yesterday the Verso Spring catalogue arrived.
Amongst the books they present it this one:
Published February 2015.
“France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.” –Tariq Ali.
And this – which indicates a lot about the ideology of Verso and New Left Review.
To announce this book’s publication Verso have put this on their site by Christine Delphy (from 2007).
Religion: a private affair? A rebuttal of a commonplace idea by Christine Delphy.
“Among other forms of intellectual, ethical and political regression, since the massacres of 7–9 January we’ve seen a brutal and authoritarian neo-laïcisme [French state secularism] coming back into force. And let’s say it frankly: it’s targeted against Muslims. Indeed, this neo-laïcisme radically subverts whatever may have been emancipatory about secularist thought and legislation between 1880 and 1905. More particularly, today we’re again hearing the absurd refrain about the supposedly secularist need for religion to stay ‘personal’ and ‘limited to the private sphere’.
For all these reasons, we thought it opportune to republish a short but punchy history lesson, taken from a book whose title [Un universalisme si particulier; ‘A very particular universalism’] is, unfortunately, once again very much relevant.”
It begins, with her statement,
Though it is a constant element of laïcard [aggressively secularist, in an atheist key] propaganda, the idea that religion belongs to the ‘private sphere’ is rarely contested. No one ever defines this ‘private sphere’: the term ‘private’ has many different definitions depending on the context, including as regards law. The laïcards are anti-Muslim, and mask their opposition to this particular religion in claiming to be opposed to all religions.
This text (above) is translated by David Broder.
We stumble here. David fails to note that ‘laïcard’ is by definition pejorative – it’s as if we start by saying that “Islamophobics are hostile to Islam”. That is what the suffix, ‘ard‘ means, as in Trotscard. This is argument by assertion.
It is used by the enemies of laïcite (secularism).
It is hard to see that anybody hostile to secularism ever saw anything ’emancipatory (or there ‘may have been’ something good) about it.
It is the language of the enemies of secular freedom, from the Catholic far-right onwards.
Just as the enemies of Trotskysim call Trotskyists – in French – Trotscards .
It is true that some on the French far-left (a small minority) also use the term.
To analyse the article seriously is not worth while.
It is essentially a sustained rant, whose quality can be judged by this statement,
The laïcards don’t attack freedom of expression, but defend it; and they would even be right to do so, if only they weren’t so selective. For them, this right is absolute when it comes to ridiculing Muslims and Islam, but not when you draw a policeman with a pig’s nose, which is a grave insult against the state – indeed, it’s close to blasphemous
It ends with this hysterical scream.
Is this country doomed to stumble from one form of intolerance to another? Will atheism become a new state religion, while those who believe in a god or gods will become the new ‘freethinkers’ – hounded, persecuted and imprisoned?
If Verso thinks this kind of statement is worth reproducing – and the following obscure ruminations about sects (his dada) by former Comités communistes pour l’autogestion (CCA) member Didier Leschi – then they are in a bit of a pickle.
This all leads us to ask about Christine Delphy’s politics. These are well known. She has some very reactionary views (against civil/gay marriage on the grounds that it is a ‘bourgeois’ institution), and is associated with figures in the orbit of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan and has vauinted the British education system as a model, far better than French laïcité at accommodating Islam (indeed!) (More here).
The above text comes from the L’Indigène de la république site and this is her background with this group:
“In 2004-2005, she participated in the birth of the movement, the ‘indigènes de la République’.” (French Wikipedia).
We have covered them before, a homophobic, anti-laïcard (an expression we note with origins on the extreme right and Christian believers), the militant wing of post-colonial studies pretending to be the voice of the ‘banlieue’.
Here is one notorious example of their thinking:
“Houria Bouteldja principal speaker of the Indigènes de la République « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires
The homosexual way of life does not exist in working class and deprived areas.” (from here).
The Charnal House writes more widely on the groupuscle,
Marxism? Enlightenment? Universalism? Rationality? All inventions of the decadent bourgeois West, apparently. Bouteldja situates her own indigenous perspective somewhere in the rarefied epistemic space of radical alterity. Decolonial thought, she contends, “defied the imposed margins: the margins of enlightenment thinking, of western rationalism/rationality, of Marxism, of universalism, of republicanism.” She therefore implores her fellow indigènes to “resist the ideology of White universalism, human rights, and the Enlightenment.” In Bouteldja’s view, the “the cold rationality of the Enlightenment leads…to the fanaticism of market and capitalist reason,” and engenders an “outrageous and arrogant narcissism to universalize historical processes (i.e., secularism, the Enlightenment, Cartesianism) that were geographically and historically located in Western Europe.” Karl Marx himself was nothing more than a white, Eurocentric chauvinist when he dismissed religion as the opiate of the masses. “There are societies which don’t need the separation between the Church and the State, and for which religion is not a problem,” Bouteldja has written. “Religion is not the opium of the people.”
This is Tariq Ali’s comment (26th January) on the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres,
How serious is Islamophobia in France and other European countries?
France is the worst in Europe and tries to mask it by proclaiming its secular values (sound familiar?), but these values don’t apply to Islam. In fact, French secularism means anything but Islam. And when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.
It is not expected that Verso has reproduced these cartoons by our murdered comrade Charb that appeared in Marx Mode d’emploi to illustrate the Daniel Bensaïd book.