The following declaration on the principle of secular government, “L’appel des 100 intellectuels contre “le séparatisme islamiste”, originally appeared in Le Figaro on March 19. It was signed by a hundred French intellectuals, including Ibn Warraq, who kindly sent the introduction that is posted below.
The declaration was translated into English and published at the Clarion Project. Since then it has been reposted at the New English Review and Jihad Watch.
by Ibn Warraq
Although the original declaration was the initiative of Stephane Breton, an associate professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales [EHESS] and a documentary film-maker, so many amendments, corrections, and additions were suggested during many collective discussions by many others who eventually signed the declaration, that one must see it as a truly collective effort— a joint initiative.
The most important idea behind the text is “Republicanism”, the fact that it is signed by Republicans, whether of the left or right. Although these intellectuals have signed a joint declaration, this does not mean that they all agree on everything, but they are all, nonetheless, totally committed to the defence of the Republic, a term with a far greater resonance and significance in France than in the Anglo-Saxon world. For the French, the Republic is a civic space in which divergent political opinions can coexist.
These intellectuals of all persuasions are very conscious of the history of the long, violent wars of religion that tore France apart; they do not wish to witness such terrible religious conflicts again. That is the historical reason that gives the term “secularism” [laïcité] in France a particular nuance and importance that is hard sometimes for the non-French to grasp. The three principles of the neutrality of the state, the freedom of religious exercise, and public powers related to the church are enshrined in the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State. The Republic does not recognize, pay, or subsidize any religious sect. Accordingly, from 1 January, 1906 following the enactment of this law, all expenses related to the exercise of religion were removed from state budgets, departments and municipalities.
Some of the signatories have personal experience of the pernicious effects of the new laws designed to protect the tender sensibilities of Muslims, and only Muslims. For example, the award-winning historian Georges Bensoussan was acquitted in March 2017 of charges of incitement against Muslims; he had quoted an Algerian scholar and said, “in French Arab families, babies suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
Another signatory, Mohamed Louizi, is being taken to court for defamation for having implied that the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron had been a hostage to the Islamist vote. Louizi has an intimate knowledge of Islamists, since he’s former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Several others among the signees are also ex-Muslims such as Walid al-Husseini, Boualem Sansal, and myself, Ibn Warraq. They, too, have first-hand knowledge of the ideologies of the Islamists. All value the freedom of and from religion which includes the right to leave or change one’s religion, or not to have any religion. The presence of women such as Fatiha Boudjahlat and Fawzia Zouari underlines the need to defend the freedom of women to live their lives without interference from Islamic fundamentalists. Many are distinguished philosophers (Alain Finkielkraut, Luc Ferry, Renée Fregosi, Vincent Descombres, Rémi Brague, Philippe de Lara, Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Damien le Guay, and Yves-Charles Zarka), others are historians, essayists (Pascal Bruckner), and professors. Some have served as ministers or advisors in past governments, such Bernard Kouchner, Luc Ferry, and Patrice Champion. All are dedicated to secularism, and the firm separation of state and religion, and all, of course, value free discussions of all and any ideas, wherever they may lead.
Their fears are founded on real facts, not irrational fears of foreigners. The well-known Islamologist Gilles Kepel has remarked upon the inexorable rise of Islamist propaganda and proselytism in universities, promoting the ideas of the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Thankfully, the French authorities have recently shut down twenty mosques and prayer halls they found to be preaching radical Islamic ideology — that is, preaching hatred of non-Muslims, and advocating jihad.
The suburbs are rife with Islamic militants proselytizing among the young, imposing sharia on all, especially women, segregating swimming pools, demanding halal food, and so on. Incidents of anti-Semitism in France have risen dramatically, almost all of it coming from Muslims. But if I were to say so in France, I might well be prosecuted for “Islamophobia”.
100 French Intellectuals Denounce Islamist Separatism
by Leslie Shaw
March 21, 2018
A group of 100 diverse French intellectuals denounced Islamist totalitarianism in the newspaper Le Figaro on March 19, 2018. The following is a translation of their statement made by Clarion contributor Leslie Shaw:
We are citizens of differing and often diametrically opposed views, who have found agreement in expressing our concern in the face of the rise of Islamism. We are united not by our affinities, but by the feeling of danger that threatens freedom in general and not just freedom of thought.
That which unites us today is more fundamental than that which will undoubtedly separate us tomorrow.
Islamist totalitarianism seeks to gain ground by every means possible and to represent itself as a victim of intolerance. This strategy was demonstrated some weeks ago when the SUD Education 93 teachers’ union proposed a training course that included workshops on state racism from which white people were barred.