Former Charlie Hebdo religion editor attacks ‘fascist’ Islam
Zineb El Rhazoui, above, has published a book in France entitled Detruire Le Fascisme Islamique (Destroy Islamic Fascism) which she dedicates to ‘Muslim atheists’ and will no doubt increase the significant number of enemies she already has.
According to the New York Times, the book is “an unapologetic strike” against the strict application of Islam by those aping Mohammed and his companions. Their violent exploits, says El Rhazoui, are based on barbaric 7th-century Bedouin “bellicose texts” that have no place in the modern world and can be directly connected to terrorism.
Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.
During a recent trip to New York, she said:
I don’t have the right to renounce my struggle, or to give up my freedom. It’s totally crazy. I have done nothing against the law and have nothing to hide, yet I live with security while those who threaten us are free.
Detruire Le Fascisme Islamique takes the battle of ideas directly to the ideologically-driven zealots who inspired the assassins of her dear friend Charb (Stephane Charbonnier), above, late editor of Charlie Hebdo who preferred “to die standing than to live on my knees.”
“The most abject crimes of Islamic State are but a 21st-century remake of what the first Muslims accomplished under the guidance of the Prophet,” she writes, noting that sexual and domestic slavery, the massacre of non-Muslims (notably Jews), paedophilia, pillage, polygamy and summary executions were all adopted from pre-Islamic societies.
The book is also the journalist’s way of carrying on the legacy of her dead comrades, who revelled in their right to mock established religion and fanatics everywhere — with Islam no exception to their traditional French anti-clerical ridicule — through satire and caricature.
But the writer is on the verge of joining the exodus of staff breaking from the magazine under its new management. Flush with cash from international donations, the fundamentally altered publication, she disappointedly explained:
Will probably never again draw the Prophet. [And] those who think that only a handful of madmen are capable of killing for a cartoon of Mohammed forget that everywhere that Islam reigns as the religion of the state, caricatures and cartoons in the press are repressed.
Responding to politicians, religious figures, Islamophobia opponents and media commentators who claim after every jihadist attack that “real Islam” has nothing to do with such terror, she writes:
We need to admit that Islamism today is applied Islam.
When we apply Islam to the letter it gives Islamism, and when we apply Islamism to the letter it gives terrorism. So we need to stop saying Islam is a religion of peace and love. What is a moderate Islamist? An Islamist who doesn’t kill?
She abhors as the “intellectual fraud” of Islamophobia, which pretends to be about anti-racism but in her reckoning is used as a weapon to silence all critics of Islam and the ideas behind it as automatically hostile towards all Muslims.
Epitomised by the French Collective Against Islamophobia (CCIF), this deliberate strategy vilifies as “Islamophobic” voices such as El Rhazoui’s who dare question the religion the CCIF and fellow travellers define only through the prism of their own fundamentalism.
The notion of Islamophobia doesn’t even exist in Muslim countries, the author points out, because outside the West, criticism of the religion or Mohammed is officially “categorised as blasphemy.”
Unable to pass blasphemy laws in Europe, groups like the CCIF employ a dangerous “semantic confusion”. On the CCIF site it is written:
Islamophobia is not an opinion: it is an offence.
El Rhazoui points out:
This is very dangerous because it has even entered the dictionary as hostility towards Islam and Muslims. Yet criticism of an idea, of Islam or of a religion cannot be characterised as an offence or a crime. I was born and lived under the Islam of Morocco and live in France and I have the right criticise religion and this dictatorship of Islamophobia that says I have no right to criticise!
If we criticise Christianity it doesn’t mean we are Christianophobes or racist towards the ‘Christian race’.
The widespread pressure to self-censor is severe, El Rhazoui says.
You can no longer speak about Islam without saying it’s a religion of peace and love. But when you open any book in Islam what do you find? Violence, blood, oppression of women and hate for other religions.
Of course you can find this in other religions, however we are talking about something written many centuries ago during a barbaric time for humanity. As long as we don’t talk about this, and keep repeating that Islam is a religion of peace and love, many people will continue to believe the Koran is a constitution, and that rather than being a book written 15 centuries ago reflecting a particular context, it is a legal constitution to apply today.
So-called Islamic fascism, seen in its most extreme form in groups like ISIS, shares characteristics in common with all extreme-right fascisms, El Rhazoui argues, because it combines an intense personality cult around Mohammed as the incarnation of the nation. It also employs widespread systems of suspicion and denunciation, exemplified by “sartorial branding” – for example Burkinis or niqabs – that allow for immediate identification and targeting of non-adherents.
There are also familiar fascist tropes of repressive sexism against women and homosexuals, armed militias, adoption of a flag, and a strategy that confers the benign status of “Muslim women” to heavily veiled adherents in the West, and characterises them, disingenuously, as victimised objects of exclusion.
The greatest racism, El Rhazoui argues, is the racism of the Islamist ideology that forbids marriage with people who are not Muslims, and that rejects women.
That is the definition of racism and fascism and we must say it.
The Muslim religion has its place in the modern world if it submits itself fully to the laws that rule humanity today: universal principles of equality between men and women, sexual and individual freedom, and equality for all, no matter your creed or religion. Until Islam has admitted this and accepted that the freedom of men and women is superior to it, Islam will not be acceptable.
Detruire Le Fascisme Islamique aims to puncture the hypocrisy and faux-intellectual “fakery” (the author’s word) of “Islamophobia whiners” and other “collaborationists” from across the political spectrum — particularly the hard left, “Crypto-Islamist” anti-racists on a quest for a new “Muslim proletariat” certain feminists, cultural relativists and so-called moderate Imams.
All these “willing accomplices” do is distort the noble cause of fighting racism to give undeserved legitimacy to an ideology that at its most extreme results in the horrors of Islamic State, the author says, but also makes the lives of millions of Muslims living in Islamic countries downright miserable.
“What do these Islamophobia whiners say to the millions of individuals who live in Islamic theocracies and dream of liberty?” El Rhazoui concludes in her book.
Who speaks about the nightmare of a woman who decides to cross the streets of Algiers, Casablanca or Cairo in a skirt?… those who would like to drink a glass of alcohol in countries where you have to flout the law to do it? … about homosexuals, pariahs of Muslim societies, who often only have the choice of death, prison or exile? Who speaks about this youth born Muslim but dreaming of a normal life, these teens attacked for having had a romance?
Since January 2015, the survivor from Charlie Hebdo has traveled frequently to speak at universities and meetings of the Freedom Forum, in Europe and the US, under the protection assured by the French state and the countries that receive her.
She says she would never complain about living under permanent armed guard and having her freedom of mobility curtailed, because so many other writers and political figures around the world – and especially in Islamist-controlled or influenced countries — are taking the brave decisions to do as she does but without any security.
Today I wander around in a moving jail — it’s a moving cage — but in reality I am more free in my head than those who threaten me. Because their cage is inside their head. They have this cage in their brain and even if they have freedom of movement it is their spirit and their reason and intelligence that is imprisoned. I am much freer than them.