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Hebdo attack does not justify Islamophobic novel Open in fullscreen

Maen al-Bayari

Hebdo attack does not justify Islamophobic novel

The book's content was leaked online before publication [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 January, 2015

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The attacks on Charlie Hebdo do not make the content of Michel Houellebecq's book, "Submission", which envisions a France ruled by Islamic law, any less racist.

The day of the Charlie Hebdo attack was a day of terror in Paris. It was also the day of the release of a novel imagining a France ruled by a radical Muslim president after France and Europe "submit" to Islam.

In Soumission (Submission), Mohammed Ben Abbes, the leader of a fictional Muslim Fraternity party, beats the National Front's leader, Marine Le Pen in the runoff to the 2022 presidential election.

Abbes' prime minister, a French university professor and convert to Islam, then bans women from work. Muslim teachers take control of France's secular education system and turn the Sorbonne into an Islamic University.

I wonder how the author, Michel Houellebecq, a man so obviously haunted by his hostility towards Islam, felt when he heard about Wednesday's attack on Hebdo.

It is worth mentioning that the magazine was due to feature a cartoon mocking Houellebecq and the overt racism contained within Soumission.

What now for France? Al-Araby speaks to Alain Gresh, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique


One review of the book, which could be found online before its release date, mentioned how the current French president, Francois Hollande, underscored the freedom of expression in literature in reference to the book. A classic Voltarian stance.

A combination of slick marketing and the position of Houellebecq as a winner of the Prix Goncourt, France's top literary prize, Soumission was expected to sell 150,000 copies. After the Hebdo attack, sales are expected to double.

 
     The author has turned a blind eye to ethics, nations, history and facts. He seeks entertainment at any price.


It goes without saying that this crime and many others committed by Muslim groups in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan, provide grounds for Houellebecq to write a book about the dangers of Islamic terrorism.

Those on the right could easily claim that the attack is in line with the threat Houellebecq warned against in his novel. They could reiterate that France is entirely under threat and that the high ethnic tensions put the country on the brink of catastrophe.

Perhaps some French believe that Muslims want to kill those who mock their religion, including the author.

But, as al-Araby al-Jadeed's al-Mouti Qibal states in his review of the book, Houellebecq has turned a blind eye to ethics, nations, history and facts. He seeks entertainment at any price and in any way.

The events witnessed in France leave no room for jokes, farce or imagined futures. These events are so serious that as Arabs and Muslims, we are required to revisit what happened and courageously point to our mistakes.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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