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March Against Islamophobia in France – some divisions on the French left.

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Image result for marche contre l'islamophobie novembre paris affiche

This Sunday there is going to be a large demonstration against Islamophobia in Paris.

This is bound to have international resonance.

Protesting against hatred shown towards Muslims takes place after the attack on a Mosque  in Bayonne at the end of October and polls which show up to  44% of French people backing laws against wearing the veil in public spaces. (LES FRANÇAIS ET L’INTERDICTION DU PORT DU VOILE ISLAMIQUE DANS LES LIEUX PUBLICS.)

An appeal, signed initially by 50 prominent figures of the political left, trade unionists, anti-racist activists and intellectuals  was published in Liberation on the 1st of November calling for a response to the rise in hatred.

The dignity and integrity of millions of our fellow citizens are at stake. It is a question of unity against racism, which, in all its forms, which today again threatens France.

Le 10 novembre, à Paris, nous dirons STOP à l’islamophobie !

The racist atmosphere has reached a new level after what has been called an appeal to civil war against Muslims and immigrants from the writer Éric Zemmour at the  Convention de la Droite, held at the end of September,  which also starred the rising figure of the French far right Marion Maréchal. (Les propos d’Eric Zemmour, comme une incitation à la guerre civile)

Anybody wishing to be informed on the climate could do well to begin by reading Zemmour’s Le Suicide français (2014).

He begins by lamenting French decline, blaming an alliance of 68 libertarian leftist ideology, feminism, gay rights, and unrestrained free market capitalism for undermining the family and French national sovereignty. The left, by denigrating the Nation, the land, and its dead, has paved the way for globalism. The destruction of France is furthered by the European Union’s super-national project and the ‘elites’ running it against the rooted people of the countries they rule over.

Immigration plays a role in undermining French nation. In place of the ‘integrationist’ process of assimilation – he himself is from a North African Jewish background – today capitalists and leftists have allowed separate communities to develop. The “cult of mixing” and diversity has replaced the republican model of equality (, le culte du métissage )

Le Suicide français Zemmour described Paris as surrounded by a banlieue  studded with Islamic and drug dealing fortress.

His more recent diatribes continue in this vein,

“one must choose between living and together” [a play on words on the slogan “vivre ensemble”]. The question today is thus that of the people. The people can remake a nation. The French people against the universalisms, whether market or Islamic. The French people against the cosmopolitan citizens of the world who feel closer to the inhabitants of New York or London than to their compatriots in Montélimar or Béziers and the French people against the Islamic universalism that is transforming Bobigny, Roubaix and Marseille into so many Islamic Republics and which waves the Algerian or Palestinian flags when its football team wins – I mean the team it loves, the team of their parents’ country, not the team of their ID or health insurance card.

Speech here.

In these conditions it is valid to make some comparisons between Zemmour and the 19th century  author of the best known French anti-Jewish hated, Edouard Drumont  (De Drumont à Zemmour, les résonances de la France rance).

It is less clear that we can draw exact parallels with the organised anti-Semitism, which included ‘leagues’ that promoted Jew baiting,  of that period.

The attempt to do so and make explicit reference to the Dreyfus Affair in Pour les musulmans by Edwy Plenel (2015) whose title echoes Pour les Juifs  by Emile Zola is devoid of all geopolitical context, beginning with the rise of extreme right Islamism.

Yet there are clearly mechanisms of exclusion against Muslim voices. During public debates on the veil, the Hidjab, this has happened:

La semaine du racisme antimusulmans a commencé le 11 octobre 2019 : depuis cette date, 85 débats sur le hijab ont été organisés, 286 personnes ont été invitées sur vos écrans mais PAS UNE SEULE femme portant le hijab n’a été invitée dans le cadre de ces débats

 (The week of anti-Muslim racism began on October 11, 2019: since then, 85 debates on the hijab have been organized, 286 people have been invited to your screens but NOT ONE ONLY woman wearing the hijab has been invited as part of these debates)

These indicate some of the reasons why the Sunday protest may have problems in balancing a universalist stand against the racist wave and the need to avoid becoming trapped in an incircle defence of religious-political  ideas.

So far most of the debate has centred on these aspects of the difficulties involved.

To begin with the word Islamophobia, as if a religion rather than Muslims as people, are the target of hatred, is a difficulty for many.

This is much less of an issue than the fact that the demonstration is backed by people whose own anti-racism is far from clear.

Marcher le 10 novembre avec les islamistes et décoloniaux : une erreur politique majeure pour la gauche. Manuel Boucher.

There is equally  a strident tone against existing secularist  laws in the appeal for the march.

Few people are eager to take lessons on secularism from anybody associated with Islamism. (1)

This had led the Parti Socialiste and others to withdraw their support. A gauche, défections en série avant la «marche contre l’islamophobie»

Despite these criticisms Jean-Luc Mélenchon has maintained his backing (Marche contre l’islamophobie : Mélenchon défend sa signature «au nom du texte réel et du contexte cruel»)

Even from a distance it is hard not to deny the scale of the problems Muslims, from very diverse communities, forms of Islam, politics,  and origins, from the Maghreb onwards,  face in France.

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(1) Une ombre islamiste plane sur la marche contre l’islamophobie

La Croix.

D’autres signaux permettent de déceler l’engagement de l’islamisme, parfois radical, dans la manifestation « Nous dirons STOP à l’islamophobie ! » du 10 novembre. Ainsi, une source policière note le relais de l’Appel à cet événement par plusieurs imams lyonnais, très investis dans l’UOIF. Mohamed Louizi relève, lui, les mêmes attitudes chez l’imam francilien Noureddine Aoussat, « frériste » reconnu ou chez l’imam nordiste Abdelmonaim Boussenna (Roubaix), très proche, longtemps, de Tariq Ramadan, et dont les profils YouTube et Facebook comptent des centaines de milliers d’abonnés.

Scrutant la liste des signataires de l’appel à manifester « contre l’islamophobie », Mohamed Louizi estime que « plusieurs d’entre eux posent problème ». Ainsi, la « Plateforme L.E.S. Musulmans », un « réseau collaboratif » qui entend exprimer l’opinion des « bases musulmanes », a été fondée par Marwan Muhammad, un « proche des Frères musulmans » qui fut aussi porte-parole et directeur exécutif du Collectif contre l’islamophobie en France (CCIF). Cette plateforme activiste vient d’ailleurs de lancer une Union des imams qui inquiète certains observateurs. Ses adhérents pourront être de toutes sensibilités et tous courants de pensée, y compris salafistes.

Plus largement, poursuit Mohamed Louizi, « tous les initiateurs de cette manifestation dénoncent, depuis le début, la loi du 15 mars 2004 qui interdit de porter à l’école les signes manifestant ostensiblement son appartenance à une religion… » A ce propos, une phrase de la tribune publiée par Libération, le 1er novembre, a particulièrement attiré l’attention : « Depuis des années, les actes qui visent (les musulmans) s’intensifient : qu’il s’agisse de discriminations (…) ou de lois liberticides… »

 

 

Tunisia, “Revolutionary Conservative” Kaïs Saïed heads First Round: two Populists to battle it out.

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Kais Saïd ou le choix de la génération

Robocop Heads Tunisian Presidential First Round.

Presidential election results were seen as a shock in the Tunisian media.

Here

Tunisia election: Outsider in lead stuns after most votes counted.

Al Jazeera.

With two-third votes in presidential race counted, conservative constitutional law professor Kais Saied takes the lead.

Law professor and political outsider Kais Saied is leading Tunisia‘s presidential polls with two-thirds of the votes counted, the electoral commission said, after the country’s second free vote for head of state since the 2011 Arab Spring.

Saied was on 18.9 percent on Monday night, ahead of imprisoned media magnate Nabil Karoui, who was on 15.5 percent, according to the electoral commission, ISIE.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, a presidential hopeful whose popularity has been tarnished by a sluggish economy and the rising cost of living, could well turn out to be the election’s biggest loser.

ISIE figures showed him in fifth place with 7.4 percent of the vote, trailing both Ennahdha party candidate Abdelfattah Mourou (moderate’ islamists, once a favourite of Jeremy Corbyn’s right-hand man, Seumas Milne)  and former defence minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.

France 24 noted,

In a sign of voter apathy, especially among the young, turnout was reported by the elections commission (ISIE) to be 45 percent, down from 64 percent recorded in a first round in 2014.

Reports indicate that  Kaïs Saïed’s electoral base is the educated youth, the “les 20-30 ans éduqués.”

Nicknamed, “robocop”, this comes from his unflagging diction, his use of a rigorous literary Arabic (when many candidates speak in Tunisian forms), his analysis essentially based on the country’s constitutional problems, his conservative positions on social issues. Others have made the connection with “Robespierre”, a ”  Robespierre without guillotine, but if the situation was that of two centuries ago, he would have used it,” an observer noted. He has been a favourite in the polls for many months.

Le Point.

The  analysis by Syrine Ben Youssef on Huffington Post Maghreb has a different angle on the age cohort.

Kais Saïd ou le choix de la génération Z

37 % des électeurs de Kais Saïd auraient entre 18 et 25 ans

37% of the voters for Kais Saïd  are said to be between 18 and 25 years old.

Syrine Ben Youssef summarises some reasons for this result.

They call them ‘Generation Z’ who have grown up since the Tunisian Spring, in contrast to ‘Generation Y who made the revolution.

This is the digital generation, “digital natives” ultra-connected, born with internet, mobile phones, and  social networks.

Saïd is seen as “honest, independent, intellectual” and, above all, he conveyed this image in short broadcasts which can be quickly absorbed and gave an image of furthering a change from the old political set up, the style of lengthy speeches and arguments. He, the Huffington Post journalist, argues,, managed to give an accessible image and a message of supporting, “ideas of ​​direct popular participation” and backing for “universal suffrage”, that is, not the rule of a squabbling political class.

Generation Z, for its part, shows us, through this election in 2019, that it needs change and that it thinks differently. Kais Saïd advocates  a direct democracy where the intermediaries between the power and the people would be reduced. A democracy in the image of a horizontal company or even a liberated firm having little or no level of separation between employees and the executive. Kais Saïd targets, perhaps very intentionally or possibly accidentally, Generation Z.

In case anybody should think this audience makes Saïed a liberal, think again.

He is in favour of the death penalty, he thinks homosexuality is promoted by ‘foreign’ forces’ (l’homosexualité, ou plutôt son expression publique, est encouragée par des parties étrangères qui les financent »)  which should be kept Private, and he thinks that inheritance laws should give priority to males (as in most interpretations of Islamic ‘law’). More here.

It looks like a standoff between two “populists”, the one, constitutional and conservative, who attacks “elites”, the other Nabil Karoui, referred to as a Tunisian Berlusconi with dodgy money – currently in Gaol awaiting trial for this – who wants to “Libérer l’économie”, free the economy.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Algeria: Demonstrations Grow Against 5th Term for Bouteflika.

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Au lendemain des manifestations du 1 mars: un peuple debout, un pouvoir

Au lendemain des manifestations du 1 mars: un peuple debout, un pouvoir groggy.

Al HuffPost Maghreb

In Algeria , while the demonstrations against a fifth term for outgoing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika have reached historic levels , at a few hours of filing applications for the supreme election (Sunday midnight local time), the presidential camp remains very discreet.

The dismissal this Saturday of the campaign manager and former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal , replaced by the current Minister of Transport, was carried out without further explanation or comment.

No Algerian official has so far officially reacted to the massive mobilisation of Algerians on Friday across the country to oppose the prospect of a fifth term of Bouteflika, in power since 1999 , who celebrated his 82 years Saturday .

Hospitalised in Switzerland for six days , officially for “periodic medical examinations”, the return to Algeria of the head of state has still not been announced.

20 Minutes:

Algérie: Des manifestations massives mais sans réactions politiques

Le Monde:

In Algiers, a huge crowd determined to demonstrate peacefully

Hundreds of thousands of people marched Friday in the Algerian capital against a 5th term of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

See RFI Press review: la nouvelle déferlante contre Bouteflika en Algérie

In declaring their solidarity the Ensemble alliance notes that there is a call to demonstrate today in favour of a boycott of the elections.

 dimanche, c’est le collectif « Mouwatana » (citoyenneté) qui prône le boycott de l’élection présidentielle qui a appelé à manifester.

Interview with one of the leading figures of the group in l’Humanité (Saturday) .

Capture d'écran/France 24.

ZOUBIDA ASSOUL : « LES ALGÉRIENS EXIGENT UNE RUPTURE RADICALE AVEC LE SYSTÈME BOUTEFLIKA »

More on Mouwatana: Le mouvement Mouwatana précise les lieux de ses rassemblements

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Written by Andrew Coates

March 3, 2019 at 1:19 pm