Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Islamism

Comrade Maryam Namazie awarded the Prix de la Laïcité 2016.

leave a comment »

Image result for Maryam Namazie Prix de la laicite

Comrade Maryam Namazie at Paris Hôtel de Ville. 

 was awarded the  2016  Prix International de la Laïcité 2016  on Wednesday (Comité Laïcité République

The Parisian ceremony, hosted by the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville),  was attended by Anne Hidalgo,  Paris Mayor, and Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister (Paris).

“Maryam Namazie, scientifique iranienne et militante de la laïcité et des droits des femmes, a reçu le Prix international pour son action sans relâche. Elle a enthousiasmé le parterre par sa verve, sa fermeté et sa vision universaliste de la laïcité, meilleure protection contre les diktats obscurantistes.” (Communiqué du Comité Laïcité République, CLR)

The Iranian scientist, and activist for human rights and feminism, Maryam Namaziereceived the International Prize in recognition of her tireless, efforts. Her eloquence, her determination, and her universalist vision of secularism – the best protection against the diktats of obscurantism – were greeted by the audience with enthusiasm.

Namazie delivered this address: In Defence of Laïcité: Our Lives Depend on it.

I am truly honoured to have been awarded the International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République in Paris on 2 November. The wonderful Malek Boutih won the National Prix and Étienne-Émile Baulieu the Scientific Prize for 2016.

Here is my acceptance speech in English.

The French translation, thanks to Marieme Helie Lucas is available here.

Thank you for this wonderful honour. I am so glad to have the support of so many present here, including my husband and son, as well as my Muslim parents.

We live in an age where totalitarianism is masked as divine righteousness, theocrats legitimised, dissent vilified and victims blamed for their own murder.

This is a time where “solidarity” is no longer an act of defending revolutionaries but fascists; where there is always support for Islamist projects like Sharia courts, the burqa, gender segregation, apostasy and blasphemy laws – whether de jure or de facto – but never for those who refuse to be silenced, erased and “disappeared”.

It’s a time when “progressive” all too often means protecting regressive identity politics, which homogenises entire communities and societies, and deems theocrats as the sole legitimate arbiters and gatekeepers of “community” values.

It’s a politics of betrayal – devoid of class struggle and political ideals – which sees any dissent through Islamist eyes and immediately labels it “Islamophobic” and blasphemous.

We are called “aggressive apostates”, “fundamentalist secularists”, “native informants”, “inflammatory”. We are accused of violating the “safe spaces” of Islamists on universities and even “inciting hatred”.

Don’t believe it. That is the Islamist narrative.

In the world today, it is we who are being slaughtered not the other way round.

In their world everyone dies yet we are accused of being “offensive” – as if cartoons and apostasy are worse than murder.

Islamists discriminate against, shun, flog, imprison, terrorise, abduct, and slaughter but somehow it is always the victim whose “provocation” is to blame – whether it’s Charlie Hebdo or Avijit Roy…

Laicite is not a theoretical discussion for ivory tower academics and champagne socialists. It’s a matter of life and death for many of us:
• The likes of Asia Bibi in Pakistan facing execution for blasphemy
• Young ex-Muslims (Islam’s Non Believers) in Britain facing a life-time of shunning
• The likes of Afsana Lachaux whose rights violations in a discriminatory Sharia court in the Middle East have been upheld by French courts due to bilateral agreements
• Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi given a 16 year prison sentence for opposing executions; Jafar Azimzadeh sentenced to 11 years for labour organising; or dual nationals used as pawns such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff as well as Siamak and Baquer Namazi in Iran
• Blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for writing about religion and politics and on and on and on…

“Secularism is the solution”, is a graffiti Raif Badawi saw scrawled in a Saudi prison lavatory. Yet we are told that secularism is a neo-colonialist demand by so-called “anti-colonialists” whose worldview always coincides with the ruling elite, including in former colonies, and never the dissenters. Those “anti-fascists” who are only anti-some fascists, some of the time. Those who are “anti-racist” as long as we do not venture outside the pigeonholes that we are meant to live and be buried in; (if we dissent, though, they are at the forefront of insisting on racist cultural relativism and “different” rights for “different” people). The so-called progressives who condemn us to living lives within the confines of Islam whilst the sky has no limits for them…

They cannot begin to understand that no one needs Laicite more than those who live, struggle and die under the boot of the religious-Right.

And this includes the innumerable voting with their very feet and dying as we speak to seek refuge in secular societies, including the women, men and children of Calais, who deserve the basic human right to asylum and protection, not vilification and criminalisation.

And it includes believers. The right to religion must have a corresponding right to be free from religion to have any real meaning.

The historical battle that we are faced with today is not a clash of civilisations as the vile far-Right says in order to promote what is fundamentally white and often Christian identity politics. Rather, it’s a clash between theocrats on the one hand and secularists and universalists on the other – across real or imagined communities, borders and boundaries -and including many Muslims and migrants.

Secularism is not French or Western or Eastern; it’s universal.

It must be unequivocally and unashamedly defended against this era’s totalitarianism.

Today more than ever, we need Laicite and we need it now.

Our very lives depend on it.

Thank you.

We learn that the latest Charlie Hebdo has an account of a meeting with Namazie (“Rencontre avec Maryam Namazie, féministe iranienne et récemment récompensée du prix international de la laïcité par la Mairie de Paris.“).

In Britain comrade Maryam Namazie, of the  Worker-communist Party of Iran and  spokesperson of Fitnah- Movement for Women’s Liberation has not received the recognition that she is due.

Namazie strongly distances herself from far-right anti-Islamic groups, whom she doesn’t regard as allies, but enemies as well. At the World Atheist Conference in Dublin in 2011, referring to the far-right, she said “they are like the Islamists” and that Muslims need equal protection under the law, while she stressed the need to be able to criticise religion.

Despite these clearly expressed views she has been attacked by British obscurantists and their allies,

In September 2015, the students’ union of Warwick University briefly banned her from a forthcoming talk on campus organised by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society because of a fear that she might “incite hatred” of the university’s Muslim students. In an interview with the Coventry Telegraphs Simon Gilbert, she was quoted as saying: “It angers me that we’re all put in a little box and that anyone who criticises Islam is labelled racist. It’s not racist, it’s a fundamental right. … The Islamic movement is a movement that slaughters people in the Middle East and Africa. It’s important for us to speak about it and criticise it.” The ban was lifted after a few days.

In December 2015 she gave a talk about blasphemy at the Goldsmiths University in London, sponsored by the university’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. During her talk, members of the university’s Islamic Society caused a disruption by heckling and switching off her PowerPoint presentation when Namazie displayed a cartoon from the series Jesus and Mo. Namazie asked for the disruptive students to be removed, but security refused to do so.

Wikipedia. 

Glory to Maryam Namazie!

Yazidi women win EU Sakharov Prize.

leave a comment »

Nadia Murad.

This is profoundly moving:

Sakharov prize: Yazidi women win EU freedom prize. (BBC).

Two Yazidi women who escaped sexual enslavement by so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq have won Europe’s top human rights award, the Sakharov prize.

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar were among thousands of Yazidi girls and women abducted by IS militants and forced into sexual slavery in 2014.

But both survived and now campaign for the Yazidi community.

The freedom of thought prize is awarded annually in memory of Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet scientist and dissident.

Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, described the winners as “inspirational women who have shown incredible bravery and humanity in the face of despicable brutality”.

“I am proud that they have been awarded the 2016 Sakharov Prize,” he added.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee their homes after IS fighters took the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in August 2014.

Thousands of women and girls were treated as “spoils of war” and openly sold in slave markets to IS militants. They were separated from the men and boys, many of whom were shot dead.

The Islamist slavers and  genociders have not gone away or been brought to justice.

U.N. investigators said in a report in June that Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy the religious community of 400,000 people through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Such a designation, rare under international law, would mark the first recognized genocide carried out by non-state actors, rather than a state or paramilitaries acting on its behalf.

Reuters.

October the 22nd:Dozens of Yazidi women enslaved by ISIS moved from Mosul, group says. (CNN).

Dozens of Yazidi women captured and enslaved by ISIS in 2014 have been moved from the Iraqi city of Mosul to Syria, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitoring group and US military officials have said ISIS militants are fleeing Mosul and heading for Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of ISIS, as Iraqi-led forces push to free the key Iraqi city from the terror group.

Dozens of ISIS families have already arrived in Raqqa, the observatory said.

Ethnic cleansing by ISIS has displaced, killed and enslaved hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis, members of an ancient ethnic and religious minority. Modern-day Iraq is the traditional homeland of the Yazidis.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2016 at 11:48 am

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebo – Part 479.

with 4 comments

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

Nahed Hattar, Killed for Sharing Cartoon ‘Insulting Islam’.

with one comment

Image result for Nahed Hattar,

In paradise… Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

Translation from here.

Jordanian writer shot dead as he arrives at trial for insulting Islam. Guardian.

A prominent Jordanian writer, who was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, has been shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was due to appear.

Nahed Hattar, 56, was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam after posting the cartoon on Facebook this year.

The cartoon, entitled The God of Daesh (Isis), depicted an Isis militant sitting next to two women and asking God to bring him a drink.

killed outside court in Amman where he was being tried for sharing an Isis-themed cartoon on Facebook.

A prominent Jordanian writer, who was on trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam, has been shot dead outside a court in Amman where he was due to appear.

Nahed Hattar, 56, was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam after posting the cartoon on Facebook this year.

The cartoon, entitled The God of Daesh (Isis), depicted an Isis militant sitting next to two women and asking God to bring him a drink.

Hattar was arrested in August and released on bail early this month. On Sunday, he was shot in the head three times as he arrived for a hearing.

Jordanians both celebrate and mourn assassination of writer Nahed Hattar (Al-Babwaba)

Hattar was on trial for defacing religion, a charge placed against him after he shared a picture of a controversial cartoon lampooning Daesh (ISIS) and depicting God. Though Hattar said in a statement that the cartoon was anti-Daesh and not anti-religion, and deleted the post shortly afterwards, it was enough to see him face charges against him.

While details are still murky, Hattar’s killing has created a massive stir on social media as Jordanian society reacts to the news. While many are appalled by the news, a large segment of social media users actively celebrated Hattar’s death – in the eyes of many, it’s a fit punishment for his alleged crimes.

Political parties condemn Hattar killing (Ammon).

The Ifta Department condemned Sunday morning’s death shooting of Jordanian columnist Nahed Hattar outside the Palace of Justice, and said Islam is innocent of “this heinous crime”.

In a statement, the department, which issues fatwas (religious edicts), urged all Jordanians across the social spectrum, regardless their religion, to stand united behind the Hashemite leadership against terrorism and “those trying to foment sedition”.

It said Islam, the religion of mercy, justice and tolerance, prohibits assault against a human being or “anyone who tries to instate himself as a ruler or judge to hold people to account (for their deeds), which would lead to chaos and social corruption and spread strife among members of the one society”.

The government, political parties and Jordanians across the country condemned the fatal shooting of Hattar and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

The Jordan Times reports,

Social media users to be sued over hate speech in reaction to Hattar shooting’

The government on Sunday said it has identified 10 social media users to be referred to the concerned authorities for reportedly spreading hate speech in reaction to the killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar.

“We monitor social media in general and today we noticed that 10 people were expressing hate speech and inciting hatred and sectarianism through social media and we decided to question them,” a senior government official said.

The government official told The Jordan Times that “the government will continue to monitor social media, and anyone found to be inciting hate speech or sectarianism will be referred to the concerned authorities for further legal prosecution”.

The Criminal Court prosecutor on Sunday charged the man suspected of  killing Hattar with premeditated murder, and decided to refer him to the State Security Court.

At the same time, the official added, “the government will remain committed to safeguarding the right to freedom of expression as long as it does not lead to the spreading of hate speech or sectarianism”.

Authorities have identified the shooter, who allegedly shot and killed Hattar on the steps of the Palace of Justice in Abdali earlier in the day, as Riad Abdullah, 49, a resident of east Amman.

Hattar, facing trial for sharing a caricature that was considered insulting to religious beliefs, was apparently on his way to attend a court hearing.

The Independent reports,

Alleged killer who shot atheist Jordanian writer identified

Controversial writer Nahed Hatter’s arrest was ordered by Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki for posting a cartoon depicting the image of God on social media.

A man who shot a Jordanian writer dead outside the Supreme Court in Amman has been identified as a local imam in his late 40s.

Jordanian media reported the alleged shooter’s name and picture on Sunday, which was supplied to them by a police officer under condition of anonymity. The reports said Riad Abdullah is from Hashi, a poor neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital, and had recently returned from a trip abroad. No further details were given.

Nahed Hattar, a prominent atheist Jordanian writer, turned himself into the authorities after a police investigation was launched into a cartoon he shared on Facebook. It depicted God in paradise, being treated as a servant by a bearded Arab man, who is smoking in bed with two women and calling for wine.

…..

Hattar’s family criticised the government’s response. “The prime minister was the first one who incited against Nahed when he ordered his arrest and put him on trial for sharing the cartoon, and that ignited the public against him and led to his killing,“ said Saad Hattar, a cousin of the writer. “Many fanatics wrote on social media calling for his killing and lynching, and the government did nothing against them,” a family statement said.

Hattar has long been a controversial figure in Jordan.

While born a Christian, he considered himself an atheist. He was a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad and an outspoken critic of Isis and Al-Qaeda.

His shooting was the latest in a string of deadly security lapses in Jordan.

Libération reports Ammon News saying of the killer, (Amman : jugé pour «insulte» à l’islam, l’écrivain Nahed Hattar tué le jour de son procèsPar Isabelle Hanne et Hala Kodmani)

il s’agirait d’un fonctionnaire jordanien, ancien imam écarté pour ses idées extrémistes et des problèmes avec les fidèles.

It is said that that murderer was a Jordanian civil servant, a former Imam sacked for his extremist views and problems with his  congregation.

The article describes Hatter as a left-wing Arab nationalist, a ferocious supporter of Bashir Assad, with very limited influence in Jordan. The paper cites a specialist in the politics of the region, Hana Jaber, who says that this execution will enable the country’s authorities to crack down both on pro-Syrian forces and Salafists. As an ultra-nationalist and backer of the Baathists, he was, she concludes, “no hero”. (1)

That said, it was still another horrific murder of a human being for “insulting” Islam.

***

(1)   Hanah Jaber Chercheure associée à la chaire d’histoire du monde contemporain au Collège de France, elle a été secrétaire scientifique des études contemporaines de l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo) et coordinatrice scientifique de l’Institut du monde contemporain au Collège de France. Spécialiste de la Jordanie, de la question des réfugiés palestiniens et des migrations dans la région, elle est co-auteure de Mondes en mouvement, Migrants et migrations au Moyen-Orient au tournant du XXIe siècle, éditions IFPO, 2005 et de Terrorismes : Histoire et droit, éditions CNRS, 2009. Elle collabore avec Le Monde diplomatique.  is the author of Mondes en mouvement, Migrants et migrations au Moyen-Orient au tournant du XXIe siècle, éditions IFPO, 2005 et de Terrorismes : Histoire et droit, éditions CNRS, 2009. Elle collabore avec Le Monde diplomatique.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2016 at 12:22 pm

After Burkini Stunt in Villeneuve-Loubet (France) Exposed Seven Network and Zeynab Alshelh in Shame.

with 3 comments

Capture d'écran du reportage australien diffusé sur la chaîne Channel 7 montrant deux australiennes en burkini dans les rues de Villeneuve-Loubet. "J'ai simplement pensé que c'était super beau le burkini, ma mère, ma tante, tout le monde le portait, alors j'ai voulu faire pareil", explique notamment Zeynab Alshelh, 23 ans (à droite), pour justifier son choix du port de ce maillot de bain.

Australian Islamists and Television Channel Falsified Stunt to Attack French Secularism.

The Seven Network and the pugnacious Muslim Aussie family it flew to the French Riviera with the aim of provoking beachgoers into a “racist” reaction to the “Aussie cossie” burkini owe the traumatised people of Nice and France a swift apology.

The cynical stunt pulled by the Sunday Night program, where it spirited Sydney hijab-proselytising medical student Zeynab Alshelh and her activist parents off to a beach near Nice to “show solidarity” with (radically conservative) Muslims, featured the 23-year-old flaunting her burkini in an obvious attempt to bait Gallic sun lovers into religious and ethnically motivated hatred. Except according to the French people filmed against their will, the claimed “chasing off the beach” that made international headlines never occurred because Seven used hidden camera tactics, selective editing and deliberate distor­tion to reach its predeter­mined conclusions.

This unethical exercise in journalism deliberately painted France as “hostile to Muslims” even though the most hostile countries in the world for Muslim women are places such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where being female entails forcible veiling and the threat of punishment with the lash, prison or worse for flouting bans on driving, playing sport, committing “adultery” or doing much at all without a male guardian.

The manipulation is the latest example of calculated French-bashing fuelled by collusion between the goals of political Islam and compliant media outlets seeking culture clash cliches.

The Australian.

The article concludes:

Next time Seven should finance Zeynab Alshelh trying her luck taking off her veil in Saudi Arabia or Iran, or perhaps the trainee doctor could use hidden camera techniques in Egypt on doctors practising illegal female genital mutilation on the vast majority of little girls.

But as she confesses to Inquirer: “I’m not going to put myself in that kind of danger — and anyway, they are not preaching secularism (like France) they are just doing whatever they want to do.”

This is the origin of the Australian’s exposé, Nice-Matin:

La chaîne de télévision australienne Channel 7 a diffusé ce samedi la vidéo d’une femme en burkini se faisant “chasser” d’une plage de Villeneuve-Loubet par des baigneurs. Selon un témoin, la scène est montée de toute pièce.

The Australian television Channel 7 broadcast a video of a woman in a ‘burkini’ chased from a beach in Villeneuve-Loubet by the bathers. According to a witness the incident was a set up.

“Witnesses who spoke to Nice-Matin accused Seven of using hidden cameras, scripted dialogue and deliberately disruptive behaviour to get a reaction.”

“We could see it was being dramatised, it was too much to be true and it stank of a set-up.

“They put themselves right in the middle of the jet-ski corridor of the private beach. Because they were in the way of others, the owner of the beach came out and asked them to move.”

Another witness claimed the man who asked the crew to leave was her uncle, but he was actually asking the crew to stop filming him and his family.

“He never asked these three people to leave the beach. He spoke to the camera because he was asking the cameraman to leave,” the witness said.

“There were children on the beach, including our own, and we didn’t want them to be filmed.”

This the Channel denies, “Channel Seven denies French Burkini segment was ‘a set-up’.”

But a few days ago L’Express also indicated that in order to illustrate the anti-Muslim feeling in France the only French political figure interviewed was…..Lionel Tivoli, President of the Front National of the Municipal Council of Antibes. They cite the Mayor of  Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca (of the right-wing, Les Républicains) expressing regret that the young woman was not well received, but asking why they chose to come to a place still under the shock of the Bastille Day (14th July) massacre at close-by Nice.

In August the Burkini Ban was removed from Villeneuve-Loubet, following the decision of the Conseil d’Etat.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2016 at 11:50 am

After Fifteen Years Why Has the Stop the War Coaliton Foundered?

with 16 comments

Image result for stop the war coalition

After 15 Years what do they have to show for it all?

Lindsey German of the revolutionary socialist group Counterfire and the Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) writes today.

Our conference next month marks the 15th anniversary of our movement. A time to say no to all the wars arising from the war on terror. And to continue our commitment to opposing the system our government is at the heart of, imperialism.

If the StWC is opposed to all wars “arising from the war on terror”, and it bases its opposition on being against ‘imperialism’ is the StWC simply an ‘anti-imperialist’ group.

The confusion that has lain for years over the StWC comes from this source.

It can be ‘against’ Western, and specifically UK, involvement in ‘bombing Syria’  but it has absolutely no answer to the multiple wars in that region, except being against the one force they identity as ‘imperialist’ – the US and its direct allies.

Who are opposed to Assad, who is backed by the Russian Federation, and Iran.

Who are not – officially – supported by the StWC because the StWC is against all ‘foreign’ involvement in Syria – even (they officially) claim those fighting ‘imperialism’, like Assad.

Who the US and its NATO allies oppose.

But even here, since some US allies, such as the Saudis and the Gulf states, back non-ISIS jihadist forces to the US against Assad and against…the Kurds.

Who, a progressive left force, are supported (in the shape of the YPG) by the Americans…

Who have been driven to oppose to Turkey, its ally, when they fight the Kurds..

Who are also…

Well, we could go on.

And on.

Stopping the War is clearly not on the cards in Syria, nor has the slogan any meaning in dealing with the fighting in Iraq.

StWC claims not to “take sides” in Syria, but somehow be to be against “war” without being pacifists – that it absolutely against any violence.

But the violence continues, and there is no such thing as a non ‘intervening’ side when not doing something is to let things, continue…

The incoherence of the position of the STWC is to imagine, or at least claim, that they are both  au-dessus de la Mêlée  and anti-imperialist.

But we all incoherent faced with the mass killings taking place.

But failing to stand up for human decency in the face of the genocides taking place and saying, in effect, “none of our business”, leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Most people have simply walked away from this crew.

Let the Festivities Commence!

It would be churlish not to leave the StWC with some crumbs of comfort.

In a note of self-celebration and a much needed pat on the pat, German also states today,

We did a great thing collectively with Stop the War. We have maintained it as an organisation and in the past year have seen a considerable increase in support, despite (or perhaps because of) the attacks on Corbyn. We are, I think, the major anti-war movement in any Nato country. The attacks from the right over the Syria bombing vote in 2013 showed the legacy of the movement and what damage we did. Ditto the Syria vote last year, used as a vicious attack on Jeremy Corbyn (and joined in by the pro-intervention left). There are many issues to debate about our history, and still a job to combat interventions in the Middle East and through Nato expansion.

But no, let us continue churlishly.

In reality all that remains of this “great thing” is that the StWC struggled to get a couple of thousand  people at its last demonstration (November 2015) and barely more than a couple of hundred at the CND anti-Trident protest outside Parliament this July.

One notes who they chose as a speaker at the November event.

And this sprightly new face, before his more recent Brexit campaigning:

Image result for november 2015 stop the war coalition demonstration tariq ali

Irrelevance.

The major reason for their decline is that the StWC is  as we have just seen, an irrelevance in the face of the events unfolding in the Middle East.

Another is that  the group, no doubt caught up in what Counterfire calls the ‘actuality of the revolution’  feels free to expound on a variety of issues  with a less than direct link to war.

It published this tissue of lies a few days ago:

Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité…Unless You’re a Muslim Woman

These are some of the most shameful episodes in the treatment of Muslim women in France that I can recall. They are state sponsored bullying and racism pure and simple. Islamophobia is only one form of racism, although it is the major one in Europe today. But it is the only one which targets the behaviour and dress of women in particular, and tried to alter this behaviour in the most draconian way.

German shamefully tries to link the ban on the Burkini to French international interventions.

She can barely resist saying of the atrocities, “they had it coming to them…”

France has also been increasingly strongly involved in interventions in Muslim countries, most notably Syria and Libya, which have led to increases in the level of terrorism.

Without going into great detail about  the issue we simply note.

  • It was not the French ‘state’ which tried to ban the burkini, but right-wing local authorities on the country’s coastline.
  • The French ‘state’ in the shape of the Conseil d’Etat (Council of State, the clue being the second part of the name…) overturned the ban. It said it was incompatible with human rights.
  • It was kind of German to express concern for the mass murders carried out by Daesh supporters in France. But perhaps something a little more forthcoming than a reference to “increases in the level of terrorism” linked to “interventions in Muslim countries” might have been more appropriate for those close to the victims in  Nice, Paris and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, to cite but the most recent atrocities.

La Fin de l’intellectual français? De Zola à Houellebecq. Shlomo Sand. A Critical Review.

with 2 comments

Image result for La Fin de l'intellectuel français? De Zola à Houellebecq. Shlomo Sand

La Fin de l’intellectual français? De Zola à Houellebecq. Shlomo Sand. La Découverte. 2016.

Internationally celebrated for The Invention of the Jewish People (2009) Shlomo Sand is a redoubtable controversialist. That study, which argued that those following the Jewish religion only began to consider themselves a “people” during the Middle Ages, continues to be debated. Sand’s assertion that most Jews owes their origins to religious conversion, and not to ancient Hebrew origins, was intended to strike at the heart of the “National Myth” of the state of Israel. How I stopped Being a Jew (2013) announced a wish to break with “tribal Judocentrism”. Warmth for the secular ideals of Israel, and for the Hebrew language, has not protected him from vigorous criticism from a wide variety of Zionist critics.

La Fin de l’intellectuel français has equally iconoclastic ambitions. Apart from frequent autobiographical notes, during which we learn he was once a Marxist who wished to change the world, it is no less than a charge, an accusation, against Europe, and against France in particular: that the Continent is lifting the drawbridges against the “Muslim foreigners”. A “contagious plague” of Islamophobia, uniting left secularists and traditional nationalists, has infected the Hexagone. For Sand, “media intellectuals” (intellectuels médiatiques) both circulate this “code” and pile up its symbolic property. “A une vitesse suprenante, une puissante intelligentsia médiatique s’est constituée pour qui la stigmatisation de l’autre’”… “La détestation de la religion musulmane” has become “le nouvel opium de l’intellectuel’ ‘antitotalitaire.” (Page 238) At an amazing speed, a powerful media intelligentsia  has been built around the stigmatisation of the Other. ” “The loathing of the Muslim religion” has become the “new opium of the anti-totalitarian intellectuals.”

Put simply, to the author the stars of the modern Parisian media salons, those setting the tone, the style and the substance are small in number. They include (putting them in British terms) Éric Zemmour (a ‘declinist’ second cousin to our historians nostalgic for the Empire with specific French gripes against the ‘héritières de mai 68’, ), Alain Finkielkraut (a ‘philosopher’ of the erosion of educational and grammatical standards, and what one might call “Parisianistan’, an even closer co-thinker to Melanie Phillips), Renaud Camus (a professional  indignant xenophobe railing at the ‘replacement’ of Europeans by foreigners, and potential Editorialist for the Daily Express), and Michael Houellebecq, who needs no introduction, even, one hopes, to dimwits.

The Intellectual.

The bulk of La Fin de l’intellectuel français consists of chapters on the historical role of French intellectuals, and considerations of their social functions, from Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu to Régis Debray. There is mention of lesser-known writings, such as Harman and Rotman’s Les Intellocrats (1981) which highlighted the small Parisian world of publishing, and heralded the birth of the new “media intellectuals” that came to the fore in the late seventies with the nouveaux philosophes, André Glucksmann, Bernard-Henri Lévy and others, long forgotten, defying the totalitarianism they had freshly rejected.

As a pared down version of Michael Scott Christofferson’s Les Intellectuals contre la Gauche (2014 – French, expanded, edition), this history, a grand narrative, charges the French intellectual class with having abandoned Marxism and the left. Amongst many other faults it ignores that the left continued to exist during that decade. Mitterrand’s 1981 victory – initially ruling in coalition with the Parti Communiste français (PCF) – was supported by the mass of the intelligentsia, within which an unbroken critical, if minority, left – never once mentioned in La Fin – has continued its own way, up till the present. This indicates one of the many ways in which the dominance of ‘media intellectuals’, in, unsurprisingly, the media is not the same as the kind of more entrenched intellectual hegemony that Gramsci outlined.

Readers unfamiliar with the history of the term intellectual and the politics of French intellectuals, from the “critical collective intellectual”, Zola and his cohorts, that arose during the Dreyfus Affair, Julien Benda’s defence of disinterested universalism (La Trahison des clercs. 1927), Paul Nizan’s Leninist commitment to the “soldats de la plume” (Les Chiens de Garde. 1932), will find, at least some passages to reflect on.

The Collaboration, the Resistance, post-war ‘engaged’ thinkers, in the mould of Sartre, Beauvoir and Camus, receive particular attention. The less reputable aspects of the Existentialist couple’s war record and minimal participation in real resistance were, for Sand a stumbling block for his own hero worship. Those who have not stumbled across writings such as Carole Seymour-Jones, A Dangerous Liaison (2008) that portrays in more depth than La Fin de l’intellectuel français the worst side of the pair’s war-time treatment of their Jewish lover, Bianca Bienenfeld, may even now be shocked.

Sand is, while not widely known outside of specialised circles, is the author of a fine study of Georges Sorel, L’illusion du politique (1984) Based on his PhD thesis this intellectual biography demolished a number of misconceptions, including the idea that Sorel was a proto-fascist, while making the various writings and stages in Sorel’s thought as clear as is possible. He followed this (echoed in the present volume) with a dispute on fascism, with the Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell. Apart from demonstrating again that 1920s and 1930s French ‘non-conformist’ admiration for Mussolini, and then (to a lesser extent) Hitler, indicated just how far real fascism did not take root in France, Sand demonstrates analytical fineness. He even admits that the far-right (and most notorious intellectual Collaborator) writer Drieu la Rochelle had talent (Page 158). Indeed the text displays – against Sartre’s belief that no anti-Semitic novel had any merit – a serious acquaintance with the romancier’s (in our opinion) interminable and tedious Gilles. (1939) (Page 215)

Islamophobia.

None of this delicacy is offered in the concluding chapters of La Fin de l’intellectuel français. It is tale of French Islamophobia, of nationalism and bigotry masquerading as Universalist secularism that would have been lifted from the pages of Socialist Worker or the web site of Counterfire. It is with no surprise that we learn that his first salvo against Charlie Hebdo, appeared in the far from philo-semitic ‘wise-guy’ publication, Counterpunch (,A Fetid Wind of Racism Hovers Over Europe. January 2015) a site which has published articles contesting the pardon of…Dreyfus. (1)

Sand loathes Houellebecq, who is perhaps an acquired taste. This may be why he fails to pick up on one of the few funny jokes in Soumission, the creation of the “Indigenous European a direct response to Indigénes de la République” – one group of racists giving ideas to another. Je Suis Charlie, is not, as it is for many of, the emblem of love and freedom. For the nuanced connoisseur of French pre-War ideologies, it was a publication that produced, week in and week out, a “representation méprisante et irrespectueuse de la croyance d’une minorité religieuse”  a picture that shows disrespect for a religious minority. (Page 225). No doubt that explains why Muslims, frustrated, unhinged with only a fragile belief to cling to, decided to react with murderous folly (Page 227). Doubtless it also accounts for why they killed at the Hyper-Cacher….

That the middle class demonstrated on the 11th of January 2015 in solidarity with Charlie we do not doubt. But oddly, Sand does not deeply cite his authority on this point, Emmanuel Todd, for whom they also showed the spirit of Vichy, Catholic Zombies (walking unconsciously in the steps of their religious past), soaked in the ‘culture of narcissism’, objectively xenophobe, like the Parti Socialiste, and …pro-Europeans – the (Sociologie d’une crise religieuse. Qui est Charlie? 2015). So, with every one of his bugbears wrapped together, what next? Todd, we are not astonished to learn, despises this bloc, the MAZ, prefers those who rejected the Maastricht treaty, and….is himself a nationalist, or, as they call it today, a “sovereigntist” who wishes to reassert French Sovereignty over the economy, against the European Union….

Laïcité.

In his pursuit of allies in the fight against French laïcité Sand might consider a much deeper problem than hostile reactions to Islam or those who make summary judgements about ‘Islamo-gauchisme’. It lies in this sovereigntism: a nationalists turn with far deeper roots than religious or ethnic hostility: a true xenophobia, embraced not just by the Front National, but by the centre-right, and that section of the left which shares Todd’s loathing of the European Union, if not other European states (not to mention the US). There is a name for this, which we have already used, xenophobia, and the point where nationalism slides into racism.

One can accept that that anti-Muslim feeling is prejudice, that there is a strong dose of racist defence of “la terre et les morts” against all classes of immigrants but particularly Muslims, and Catholic Mayors suddenly discovering that are secular republicans. That one can pretend that specifically French forms of secularism are universal at one’s peril.

One can accept all of this, even some gestures towards the sub-existentialist phrases about fear of the Other …but, are there not some problems about violent forms of Islamism, some difficulties, as indicated in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran, to halt just there. That amongst contemporary forms of Islamism, the status of the Kufur, the rules governing women, most visibly their ‘modesty’ and punishing the ‘immodest’, bedrock human rights issues, remain…issues.

Sand passes in silence over the ideas of the strongly left-wing and pro-Communist Charlie editor, Charb. Perhaps he should read his posthumous Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists (2015). If that proves too much for him he has no excuse whatsoever for ignoring the mass of serious literature in French on Islam, and Islamism, from Gilles Kepel, Olivier Roy, François Burgat, Gilbert Achcar  in French.  The vast majority of these writings, are as nuanced, as profoundly researched as one could wish, with all due consideration for the immense difficulties of marginalised Maghrebian and African populations. I would recommend he begin with a genuine intellectual with knowledge of both the evolution of former Maoists towards ‘anti-totalitarianism’ and Islamism, Jean Birnbaum, and his Un Silence Religieux. La Gauche Face au Djihadisme. 2016. He is certainly not a sign of the ‘end’ of the species.

The secularist Ligue des droits de l’homme has been at the forefront of the fight against the ‘Burkini ban’ (l’Humanité) So much for Sand’s recent claim that “La laïcité, comme autrefois le patriotisme, s’avère, de nos jours, l’ultime refuge de l’infâme ” (Nouvel Obs. 24.8.16.)

(1) THE DREYFUS CASE, REVISITED: Israel Shamir sifts through the Dreyfus case: was he really a victim of anti-semitism?