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London: Nazi Sympathisers, Holocaust Deniers, Laugh at Charlie Hebdo Massacre.

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Nazi sympathizers, Holocaust deniers hold secret London meeting.

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 invasion of London EXPOSED: World’s top Holocaust deniers… filmed at secret race hate rally where Jews are referred to as the ‘enemy’.

 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.

On the Ambiguities of ‘Islamophobia'; Debate Launched by Yves Colman and AWL.

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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.

He begins,

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?

Clearly not.

Multiculturalism. 

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).

This asserts,

“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.”

He states,

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.

Anti-Semitism.

“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 by Houria Bouteldja, membre of PIR translated 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……

How awful.

(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Top New Statesman Writer, Francois-Cerrah, Spits on Charb and the Charlie Martyrs’ Graves.

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Charb: Took Advantage of Own Death to Make Money, Says New Statesman Writer.

M Francois-Cerrah

Myriam Francois-Cerrah

New Statesman writer; FL journo; Oxford PhD researcher; France, MENA, postcoloniality. Views=own. http://journalisted.com/myriam-francois-cerrah

 

 

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”.

BBC.

There is also this, just out, on the book which was being written before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher supermarket:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Daniel Bensaïd, Charlie Hebdo (Charb) and Tariq Ali.

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 Daniel Bensaïd: Illustrated by Charlie Hebdo Editor, ‘Charb’.

More on Marx, mode d’emploi (2009) on Contretemps.

Book Launch (Daniel and Charb)

Yesterday the Verso Spring catalogue arrived.

Amongst the books they present it this one:

Bensaid_-_impatient_life-max_221

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.

Delphy_-_dominating_others-max_221

Verso Books.

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.

The introduction by Mike Watson says,

“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.

https://i2.wp.com/www.politis.ch/carnets/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/blvspavbun14pnqfhmlzgl7vo1_500.jpg

 

 

French Left: Parti de Gauche Refuses to Back Problematic Meeting against “Islamophobia”

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https://i2.wp.com/www.lejdc.fr/photoSRC/W1ZTJ1FdUTgIBhVOGwYSHgYNQDUVGFdfVV9FWkM-/un-meeting-contre-l-islamophobie-fait-salle-comble-a-saint-d_1979110.jpeg

Rally against Islamophobia divides the left.

On Friday at the Bourse du Travail Saint-Denis a rally “against Islamophobia” was held with the backing of some left organisations, notably the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and the French Communist Party.

Muslim and Islamist associations were prominent amongst its supporters. These included the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF, close to the Muslim Brotherhood), le Parti des Indigènes de la République, (often described as the militant wing of post-colonial studies and associated with homophobia)  les Indivisibles, Présence musulmane (close to Islamist Tariq Ramadan) and  le Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi de 2004 (CEAL) – that is the group which wants to abolish the secular rules on ostentatious religious signs in schools).

 Other groups, above all from the human rights and anti-racist movements, refused to take part.

 These were notably, the main French anti-racist body, the Mrap, la LDH (The League for the Rights of Man, France’s oldest anti-racist human rights group), SOS Racisme and  the Licra (The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).

The Left Party (Parti de Gauche) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon also  refused to join. Its general coordinator, Eric Coquerel said. “The term Islamophobia has posed a problem for us for several years. It makes it difficult to distinguish between  freedom to criticise religion and racism  The text also does not cite any other form of racism. In the present context – after the terrorist atrocities – it should have had a broader appeal”.  “At the same time”, he  continued “we have problems with those signing this document. They include communitarian groups and bodies that represent Political Islam. “

Inside the same bloc, the Front de Gauche, the grouping Ensemble backed the appeal and meeting, while the Parti Communist Français maintained its support for the declaration by sent nobody to the meeting.

At the rally itself Ismahane Chouder denounced the fact that people always ask Muslims to be irreproachable on ‘antisemitism’ ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia”. She called this demand for anti-sexism, opposition to hatred of Jews and of gays,  “Islamophobic”.

Alexander Sulzer L’Express.

For a defence of this meeting see: Grand succès du meeting contre l’islamophobie et les dérives sécuritaires (Laurent Lévy.  Ensemble).

Laurent Lévy ignores the main point of the Parti de Gauche: the questionable term “Islamophobia”. Indeed he continues with the dangerous reactionary confusion between racism and dislike/criticism of a religion.

In Libération today the radical left atheist Michel Onfray comments favourably on the Parti de Gauche’s decision and clarifies this point,

What a joy it is, finally, on the left, and in particular on the anti-liberal (economics) left, my own political side, we have begun to fight this ‘amalgam”. That is, is to lump together criticism of religion with Islamophobia” when it’s a matter of Islam, Christianophobia,  when it’s Christianity, anti-Semitism when it concerns Judaism, to the point where atheism itself becomes blasphemous. “

The writer wishes that this approach will continue, and that it will clarify the debate about religion.

“It  would distinguish those who oppose religion in the name of reason, not racism (in my case, and that of many people who do not even adopt the ‘catechism’ of the left), and those who hide their racism and xenophobia behind the rejection of religion.  One could imagine that once this distinction in the realm of ideas is made, those who do not want religion to govern our law, will be able to clearly distinguish those who dislike the Muslim religion and those who dislike those who practice it. “

Exactly.

Oppose racism against Muslims.

Criticise Islam as a religion.

Front National Goes UKIP as Mad, Racist and Nazi Candidates Flourish.

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La une de «Charlie Hebdo» du 4 mars.

Latest Charlie Hebdo: The Front National is no Longer Scarey. 

“We’ve been thoroughly un-diabolised!”

But……..

A nauseating anthology of Front National Local Government Candidates’ comments on social networks.

It seems that Britain’s UKIP is not alone.

French Front National candidates for the forthcoming French Departmental (regional) elections (22nd 29th March) have been  offering mad, racist and far-right opinions which often even outdo the British party.

L’Humanité.

These have an international echo,

French amateur singer affiliated with the far-right National Front party said his musical career is being blocked by Jews because he is not part of their clique. Here.

The remarks cited above go further, talking about the size of people’s noses (geddit?), praising Charles Martel ll (a sure sign of the ‘defence’ of the ‘Occident’), calling for Socialists, Communists and Muslims to commit suicide, and for a hunt against Arabs, not to mention a hatred of gays.

So far only those with overt Neo-Nazi and Fascist  views have been excluded from the Party.

That is, “Guillaume Jambard, en Gironde (« Travail, famille, patrie »), Alexandre Larionov, dans l’Aveyron (les « Juifs », une « race parasite » qui « merrite » (sic) une « mort cruelle ») et Thierry Brésolin, en Ardèche (« Marine, tu es la réincarnation d’Hitler. Toi, tu vas nettoyer la France »)”

Work, Family, Fatherland (Vichey), The Jews are a parasitical race, who meritt (sic) a cruel death, and one claiming that MArine Le Pen is a “reincarnation of Hitler who will cleanse France.”

The Front National’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has registered 29 – 33 % in the latest opinion polls for a Presidential candidate (le Monde).

For these regional elections polls have given the FN up to 30% – the highest score (le Parisien)

Charlie Hebdo: Religious Authority and Political Power. Chahla Chafiq.

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Nassreddin: The Laughter of the Good will bring Low the Power of Divine Authority. 

Religious Authority and Political Power. Chahla Chafiq (1) 

Charlie Hebdo. 25th February 2015 (Translated and adapted).

“One of the tales of Nasreddin Hodja, the hero and 13th century author of many works – extremely popular in the Persian, Turkish, Armenian and Arab worlds – touches on the relationship between earthly power and religious authorities.

“Nasreddin, whilst still young, had just been dignified with the title of Mullah. He was thus able to be a teacher at the Madrassa. One morning he wanted to take down a volume, high up in the bookcase. He climbed on a pile of Qur’ans. One of his colleagues was outraged. “By Allah, Nasreddin! You are impudent! Aren’t you frightened of dirtying the Sacred Scriptures?” “I used to be afraid of that.” Nasreddin replied, “But now I’m a Mollah, the Qur’an should be afraid of me.”

The message of  Nasreddin is that, in the name of the divine, humanity can take such a degree of authority that it would scare even all-powerful God.

Behind the ironical smile in the story a great fear is hidden. We have directly experienced this dread, during the murders of the 7th of January, the result of a plan to exterminate the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Half a century before, on the 14th of February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced his Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. The ruling unleashed a Holy War against disobedient writers. The actions of this religious leader, a head of state, and the Jihadist enterprise of the Kouachis and Coulibaly, have both the same basis: the Islamist will to institute the Sacred Order on Earth.

In this project terror is an indispensable tool. The Inquisition, the persecution of heretics, the Wars of Religion, have taught us that no religion is immune from such a turn. It happens the moment religion become the source of law that dictates the rules of life, of governance, and political authority.

Today’s Islamists have not ceased making plain to the world the dire results of the fusion between religion and politics. Their transformation of the concepts of the Umma (the Community of all Believers), of Harem, Halal and Jihad into ideological codes, have allowed to them to treat any refusal to bow to their Diktat as hatred of God, and to consider this a Satanic deed to be fought.

From Fatwa to Massacre.

A few months after the Fatwa against Rushdie several thousand political prisoners in Iran were “liquidated” following the same kind of ruling. These crimes, which remain unregistered internationally, were justified inside Iran as a means to cleanse the body of the Umma of impure elements. The same logic is used to maintain the Islamist order: assigning women and homosexuals to inferiority, anti-Semitism, privileging one religion or doctrine over another, and forbidding freedoms. This world-view gives the agents of Islamism an unlimited and unconstrained power. Injustice and immortality have become “duties” in the name of “divine justice” and the “moral order”.

In this fashion Islamism has joined the same outlook of “identity” movements of Christianity, Judaism and those from other religions. All of them recycle old conservative ideas – bringing them close to the far right. The domination of the market, which erodes the sense of belonging, an economic crisis that has created a social, cultural and political vacuum, at a time when humanist ideas are in retreat, have created a context within which these movements offer an appealing sense of “meaning”. Rivals, these competing identity movements have nevertheless been allies in order to stem advances in human rights. This has happened in France, over gay marriage and equality education in schools. It can be seen internationally every time there are moves to promote gender equality, sexual rights, and freedom of belief, of expression and creation.

The present development of these identity movements is a political phenomenon that cannot be grasped without taking account the context and the actors involved. Looking into the processes that have led to the rise and expansion of Islamism one can see straight away the impact of dictatorships that call themselves Muslim, including those who accept modernisation, but refuse democratic values in the name of protecting their cultural and confessional (culturel – see note 2) identity.

In the same picture we can see that these dictatorships have received the backing, past and present, of the most powerful states in the world, acting out of their own interests. Only yesterday the Western powers helped the growth of Islamism with their strategy of encircling the Soviet Union with a “green” cordon. Today, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the manipulation of religious figures, Islamist and Jewish fundamentalist, has benefited pro-War supporters on every side.

Yet, we cannot reduce society to these elements. Where are the other people on the scene? What role do those who do not share these ideologies and interests play? What, in their own fields, are they doing with their resources to reflect, to act and to create?

Democracy and Secularism.

We have to admit that faced with the offensive of political-religious identity movements, many of these actors are paralysed by a series of confusions: between the cultural and the confessional (culturel), between Islamism and Islam, between democracy and imperialism. These confusions, whatever the intentions of those they originate with, have strengthened the vision of the Neoconservative supporters of a “war of civilisations”.

To escape from this there is only one-way out: to demolish the fantasy of a “Muslim World” and the “West” and to return to the reality of social, cultural and political struggles. From there we can raise the problem of “religion and politics” in relation to democratic ideals.

Founded on the recognition of the autonomy of individuals, free and equal, creators and subjects of laws, democracy, far from being just an affair of the ballot box, is a political project whose deepening means freedom from all intangible sacred power. Now, more than ever, secularism (laïcité) is a vital stake in advancing human rights and liberty.”

(1) Chahla Chafiq-Beski is an Iranian left-wing exile, writer and novelist who lives in France. Her latest book is Islam, politique, sexe et genre. PUF.  2011. “L’écriture est devenue mon lieu d’existence, hors frontières, pour vivre la liberté.” Writing has become my home, beyond frontiers, to be able to  live in freedom.”

Portrait de Chahla Chafiq

(2) Culturel – from Cult, same word as English, but primarily retaining the original sense of religious practice, confession.