The term "Islamophobia" serves a number of functions: it denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it; it attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, it wants to silence all those Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and doctrinaire. It follows that young girls are stigmatised for not wearing the veil, as are French, German or English citizens of Maghribi, Turkish, African or Algerian origin who demand the right to religious indifference, the right not to believe in God, the right not to fast during Ramadan. Fingers are pointed at these renegades, they are delivered up to the wrath of their religions communities in order to quash all hope of change among the followers of the Prophet.Alas, that's not going to happen. Not while the word is so effective in silencing "blasphemers," i.e. critics of the violent, supremacist, totalitarian aspects of Islam.
On a global scale, we are abetting the construction of a new thought crime, one which is strongly reminiscent of the way the Soviet Union dealt with the "enemies of the people". And our media and politicians are giving it their blessing. Did not the French president himself, never one to miss a blunder - not compare Islamophobia with Antisemitism? A tragic error. Racism attacks people for what they are: black, Arab, Jewish, white. The critical mind on the other hand undermines revealed truths and subjects the scriptures to exegesis and transformation. To confuse the two is to shift religious questions from an intellectual to a judicial level. Every objection, every joke becomes a crime.
The desecration of graves or of places of worship is naturally a matter for the courts. In France, for the most part it is Christian graveyards or churches that are affected. Let us not forget that today, of all the monotheist religions, Christianity is the most persecuted – particularly in Islamic countries such Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey or Egypt. It is easier to be a Muslim in London, New York or Paris than a Protestant or Catholic in the Middle East or North Africa. But the term "Christianophobia" does not function – and that's a good thing. There are words which taint language, which obscure meaning. "Islamophobia" is one of the words that we urgently need to delete from our vocabulary.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
French intellectual Pascal Bruckner offers a crash course in the faux fear here: