Alain Gresh on France and Islam

Alain Gresh is former editor in chief of Le Monde Diplomatique, journalist at Le Monde Diplo where he writes on questions related to the Maghreb and the Midlle East. He is also the author of the blog Nouvelles d'Orient. He is the president of the Association of journalists specialising in the Maghreb and the Middle East (AJMO) and the head of the commission 'Islam et Laïcité'. His new book titled 'Islam, the republic and the world' is published at Pluriel.
This conference was given at the French Alliance at Abu-Dhabi and the link is an audio in two parts (In French). There is one part which is a summary of the talk in Arabic, the rest is devoted to questions form the audience. It is very important we got serious sources on the question of Islam in Europe and especially in France, and Gresh is an excellent source.


Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hi So,

“It is very important we got serious sources on the question of Islam in Europe and especially in France, and Gresh is an excellent source.”

I quite like Gresh even though he’s a bit too Marxist (“un tiers-mondain, deux-tiers mondiste”!) to my taste.

I don’t understand why it’s more important to get info on the issue especially in France, as say the UK or the Benelux where radical Islam is more present in relative terms.

To me, there’s no such a thing as “Islam in Europe”: I mean no more than “Buddhism in Latin America” or “Shamanism in Arabia”

“Islam in Europe” is just an ideological construct.

Created by King Fahd, Osama Bin Laden and their mosque-building Saudi third-columnists.

And inflated by Neocon propagandists such as Richard Perl, Bernard-Henri Levy and Oriana Falaci.

Ironically these two seemingly “antagonist” groups were allied against Serbia in the mid-1990s.

One more proof of their shared hatred of Europe . . .

naj said...

Speaking of Orianna Falacci,

The Zanan Magazine (Iranian Women magazine) had dedicated a whole issue to her (honor, actually)! She was war-loving gal wasn't she? (But she also seemed to have a personal beef with Arab leaders such as Ghadhafi.

I don't know France as well as you do Sophia, but I think the main issue in France is not Islam er se, it's dealing with their coming to terms with their colonial past in Islamic countries.

But I think I agree with Dr. V about the unnecessity of making "Islam" into a European (or American) issue; it would just be parallel to making Judaism into an issue as far as the Israeli conduct is concerned.

Which reminds me, have you watched the Little Mosque on the Prairie yet? It's such a Canadian way of trivializing everything into comedy and shrugging "fundamentalism" of any kind off! It's terribly cartoonish, but that is what I like about it, the exaggeration of stereotypes :)

Sophia said...

Hi Naj,
No I don'T watch TV.

I don't agree with you and Victor. The issue of Islam in western countries should be adressed and each country can be different in treating this issue, according to its own history of relations between religions and the state or its history of multiculutralism or integration. If we don't speak about the issue, then it is left only to spin and misinformation.
And Victor you confuse the issues, who said that I was talking about radical Islam ? I was only talking about Islam, or are falling in the neo-con trap ?

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hola So, Naj,

“It's such a Canadian way of trivializing everything into comedy and shrugging "fundamentalism" of any kind”
Made the same remark to myself…
But I haven’t seen the TV show yet

“The issue of Islam in western countries should be addressed […]If we don't speak about the issue, then it is left only to spin and misinformation”
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a non-issue.
Once again, why single out “Islam in France” and not say “Buddhism in Scotland”?
Why make it into an “issue” or a “problem” that needs to be solved?

This is precisely what Islamist plotters such the Saudi monarchs, or Thirdworldist poseurs such as president Bouteflika of Algeria want us to do.

And they also want the 21st century Infidel French to “repent” for the colonial/crusaders’ sins of their “ancestors”...just like Bernard-Henri Levy and Abraham Foxman want the French to “repent” for the crimes committed by the Vichy regime circa 1942.

To me, that’s the real “Neocon trap”: turning Europe and the West into a carbon-copy of Israel's Occupied Territories where [disenfranchised] “Muslims” become an “issue” that needs to be addressed through briberies [the Abbas model] or bullets [the Hamas option].

No, but no thanks!

Frankly, I don’t think we’ll be helping second-generation Algerian, Turkish and Senegalese kids from Seine-Saint-Denis by lumping them under the Blairite/Zionist label of “Islam in the West”: these kids deserve more than living in religious ghetto.

They have to become full-fledged i.e. SECULAR French citizen: I’m not sure French society will help them achieve that goal by printing a green crescent on their vests...

naj said...

Again, I agree with Dr. V.

I think "addressing Islam" will necessitate addressing a whole bunch of other religions as well (if not, we have singled out one group); and I think secular states should specifically not do so.

But in the French society, for example, what "issue" do you think Islam is/has that Hinduism is not in the British society?

Sophia said...

Well, Naj, Victor, It is very informative what Alain Gresh had to say on the question. My guess is you didn't have time to listen to his conference. I am not posting this as an opinion, it is merely a link to the conference MP3...

naj said...

Sophia, two quick notes:

I think Laicite is addressed very differently in Islam than in other religions (say Christianity). If a muslim denounces his religion, or doubts existance of god, he can, according to shari'a be killed. (Now I don't know if any muslim has died for this reason in recent centuries)

I think Europe has endured enough to rid itself of the rule of religion, and so I can somewhat undrstand the Islamophobia that is resulting from the expectation of treating Islam as an "issue".

What the Islamic image is suffering most, in my opinion, is all these muslim countries that are embracing islamic republicanism, merging their state and religion together. Islamic image is also suffering the outbursts of passion and anger (e.g. regarding the Mohammad cartoon) that makes the average consumers of media and statistics doubt muslims are capable of rationalism.

I think, Muslims have fallen too easily into these easy traps of provokation laid in front of them. I think it is time for them to resist being abstracted into an "issue", and it is time for them to draw attention to their individuality as humans rather than their collective membership in a grand religion.


(p.s. you know my French is not too good, but I did listen to Gresh)

Since March 29th 2006