This debate is not just French

Zineb El-Rhazoui was in Montreal the other day to talk about and fundraise for Charlie Hebdo.

According to El-Rhazoui, the most elementary defence against the rise of fundamentalism is to hammer home the point that religion holds no sway with the state .

“Secularism as far as I know, is the only way to permit everyone to live in the same society, even if people are different,” said El-Rhazoui.

“Islam needs to submit to secularism and it also needs to get a sense of humour.”

See what she did there? Islam needs to submit to secularism. That’s very good.

Patrick Kessel, of the French advocacy group Comité Laïcité République, said the fight against religious aggression concerns every western nation that has benefited from the last two centuries of political and philosophical evolution — advances that have brought to heel monarchs and faith leaders alike.

“This debate is not just French — it’s not just baguettes and berets. It’s universal,” said Kessel, who is joining El-Rhazoui this week.

While El-Rhazoui made no references to the political debate underway in Quebec, she said that ignoring the rise of inequalities that are based on religious dogma leads to a slippery and potentially catastrophic slope.

“If I start to accept that the girls in France who are from certain backgrounds don’t have the same rights, that it is shocking in her community if she wears (certain clothes), or if she expresses certain opinions, or if she drinks a glass of wine, or if she has a boyfriend, then it’s finished,” she said.

“Civilization will be finished. It’s the beginning of the end.”

It’s fascism. It’s no good.


  1. Decker says

    The organizer of this tour, Djemilla Benhabib, has been vilified here by all those bien pensant leftists. She’s in a situation ( bind?) similar to what A.H.A. often finds herself in.

  2. Eric MacDonald says

    I don’t know whether or not this is true, Blanche, but I think the reason for France’s becoming Al Qaeda’s enemy #1 is the fact that they believe, because a significantly large percentage of the population of France is Muslim, that Islam presently stands the best chance of gaining supremacy in France (compared to other European nations). And terrorism is the best way to achieve it, because it does terrorise, and encourages appeasement. I cannot now recall where I read this, but a Muslim commentator (or ex-Muslim commentator, I’m not sure which) suggested that just as we defeated Nazism and Fascism and Communism militarily, we will have to defeat Islamism militarily as well. I think that is true, and it is hopeless to try to avoid this. Instead of appeasing Islam(ism), we should confront it and its ceaseless infinity of claims. If we do not, as the British and French did not attack Germany when it was at its most vulnerable (when invading Poland), we will simply end up with a bigger fight on our hands. One of the first things we have to do, to my mind, is to stop pretending that multiculturalism is a liberal position, and expect immigrants to integrate with the host population. Sure, this will cause a tumult, but when would it be best to have the tumult, when we are at a relatively peaceful stage of development, or when the guns have really come out? Al Quaeda has successfully fully undermined Yemeni society, just as ISIS has caused the collapse of social order in Iraq and Iran (or has supervened upon such a collapse), and Boko Haram is doing its best in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Do we really think this can’t happen in France or Britain, Canada or the US?

  3. krambc says

    Multicultural pluralism is built on a secular foundation. Religious and political sectarianism is built on a foundation of tribalism.

    Islamism can be defeated by Muslims with a better ideology.

    We used to know how to defeat terrorism. The Cheney-Bush regimes reacted exactly in the wrong way and incited more terrorism.

    The Nazi example is telling: the punitive reaction against the German empire following WW1 lead to the socio-economic collapse of the 1920s and the failure of democracy that saw the coup by Hitler.

    In contrast, after WW2, after the horrendous atrocities by Germans and Japanese there were War Crimes trials but – even more critically – the Marshall Plan in Europe and its equivalent in Asia rebuilt economic capacity.

    Avoiding the militarist mistake is easy: a new ‘Marshall Plan’ starting in Egypt

  4. kevinalexander says

    We already have a military response to radical Islam but I don’t think it’s quite the same as the fight we had with communism or fascism since there are no industrialized Islamic states who could seriously threaten us.
    They think, as you pointed out, that they have the best chance of taking France but that is a snowballs chance. Like religion itself it’s a delusion and one which will cause a lot of grief for everyone but most especially for themselves. It’s common mistake for people to think that rich peaceful societies are degenerate and weak. Which we are until seriously challenged.

  5. kevinalexander says

    I meant to add, the worst possible damage to Canada would be five more years of Harper which he cynically understands and is playing it for all it’s worth.

  6. says

    France has at most 10 percent of its population that could be defined as Muslim, so anyone who thinks Islam can somehow gain “supremacy” there is clueless. It relies on the usual nonsensical belief that Muslims are a hive mind who all believe in the same goal.

  7. Eric MacDonald says

    To those who have responded to my deliberately provocative comment.

    First, there is nothing particularly secular about multiculturalism. Indeed, multiculturalism might reasonably be seen as a half way measure, between true laicité, on the one hand, and Hobbes’ war of all against all. But there is nothing particularly secular in saying: “You do your own thing. If your culture demands the oppression of women, go ahead and do it. Your cultural values will be respected.”

    The Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath is in no sense whatever a analogy to the relationship between the so-called “West” and the Islamic world. Indeed, there is reason for thinking that Versailles was, in contrast with what would have been German demands, had Germany won, mild by comparison. But it has nothing to do with what it would be reasonable to do with the demands of Islamic groups in the West. It’s simply a false historical analogy, Gwynne Dyer notwithstanding. The assumption that jihadi Islamists are trying to foment a violent response is a supposition that may well be wrong. It also conceals the supposition that the reason that we have jihadi violence in the world today in the first place, is because of the violent intervention of the West in Muslim countries. There is no obvious evidence to support this assumption. My guess is that the reason for the contemporary jihad is (1) part of a resurgence of fundamentalist Islam that has been in progress since before the First World War, and (2) the belief that Europe and Western democracy is an effete civilisation, ripe for the picking.

    Speaking about the Marshall Plan is all very well, but the circumstances are completely different. Much of the aid now provided by Western nations is not being used for the purposes for which it is sent, and we have no way to guarantee that it will be used for such purposes. Escaping a military confrontation at some point may not be so easy as you think.

    All the forgoing in response to krambc. Kevin Alexanter and Timgueguen: The point about the threat of Islam is not that they have the industrial capacity to destroy us. Of course they don’t, and no one is suggesting for a moment that they do. But ten percent of a population is a significant number. There is, it is claimed (and I have no reason to doubt it) that there is a critical percentage of Muslims in a society, after which Islam constitutes a serious danger to the host society. I think this is probably true. So far, Islam has been successful in putting a lid on the expression of critical views of Islam in almost all Western countries. Those who try to “tell it like it is” are immediately accused of Islamophobia, a term whose specific use is to silence criticism of Islam itself. It has been remarkable successful. If this does not seem to you to constitute a danger to your freedom, then perhaps it is so gradual that you have not noticed the creeping circumscription of freedom that has already occurred in most Western democracies. And the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (or whatever they call themselves these days) continues its campaign in international organisations to see to it that criticism of Islam is made unlawful in international law. (And, significantly, the pope effectively supports them.) Supremacy for Islam does not need to take the form of control of governments. All it needs to do is for Islam to establish itself as beyond the limits of reasonable criticism. The relatively small amount of terrorism that has been exercised in the West has already been almost universally successful in achieving this end already. Think what a concerted campaign of terrorism would do!

    Islam has a goal, clearly stated, never deviated from, and that is to make the whole world subject to Islam. It is only reasonable to take this goal (and the threat that it poses) seriously. Most Islamists (that is, the active jihadi group in Islam) are actively seeking by degrees to achieve this end. They believe (with some justice) that Western democracies are easy prey, because they can use the West’s own commitments to freedom to undermine that freedom. The existence of Sharia courts in the UK and elsewhere is a good sign that it has been almost unbelievably successful in furthering its aims, in little more than a generation. When Western leaders get up on their hind legs and proclaim repeatedly that Islam is a religion of peace (which it most assuredly is not), then half the Islamists’ battle is already won. It doesn’t take industrial capacity to win this sort of struggle, especially if, as in Judo or Karate, you can use your opponents’ strength to undo him (or her). Anyone who doesn’t see Islam as a threat is (IMHO) positively clueless. Islam can wait for decades or centuries, but it is well on its way to achieving the kind of victory it seeks, and industrial capacity has nothing to do with it. Indeed, we are quite prepared to supply them, from our own industrial capacity, with arms to carry out their own ends. Islam has already tried to conquer Europe the hard way. Now, having learned a thing or two from the growth of Nazism, and other totalitarian ideologies, they are seeking another way. I must say it seems to me that they have achieved more than I thought possible, as little as three decades ago. I am not worried for myself or the present generation, but I am concerned about generations yet to come.

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