Multiculturalisme: Pourquoi les plages réservées ou les hôpitaux musulmans ne sont pas acceptables (Necla Kelek)

Burqagown1Bruckner mentions the opening of an Islamic hospital in Rotterdam and reserved beaches for Muslim women in Italy. I fail to see why this is so much more terrible than opening kosher restaurants, Catholic hospitals, or reserved beaches for nudists, but to Bruckner these concessions are akin to segregation in the southern states of America, and even Apartheid in South Africa.
Here we may indeed have stumbled on a cultural difference. In a peculiar fit of Gallic chauvinism, Bruckner declares « the superiority of the French model. » There is something quaintly old-fashioned, and even refreshing, about this kind of national pride. (…) There are many reasons why it would be desirable for Muslims, or anybody else, to feel free to reinterpret their religious texts, and for all of us to challenge dogmas. But this surely is not the business of the state, for that opens the way to authoritarianism. Ian Buruma
Job Cohen, Amsterdam’s mayor, has a reputation of being much too soft. He never employs strong language against ethnic and religious minorities. He is a man of « dialogue » and « respect, » refraining from almost any kind of critique that might disturb the sensitivities of religious minorities. Yet Cohen was criticized by name in the letter that was left on the body of Theo van Gogh. Paul Cliteur, professor of jurisprudence at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands
Those who insist that Muhammad was a pacifist are liars and ignorant. He used and preached violence. Mohammed Bouyeri (Theo Van Gogh’s killer, February 2, 2006)
All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia.
« The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.
Articles 24 and 25, Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, August 5, 1990

Intéressante polémique ces dernières semaines sur la version anglaise (signandsight) du site allemand perlentaucher suite à la critique par notre Pascal Bruckner national de l’auteur de « On a tué Theo Van Gogh, Enquête sur la fin de l’Europe des Lumières » (dont nous avions parlé ici, mais aussi, avec Avishai Marga, de « L’occidentalisme: Une brève histoire de la guerre contre l’Occident ») Ian Buruma ainsi que du journaliste et universitaire anglais Timothy Garton Ash qui en avait fait la critique dans le New York Review of Books.

Non pas pour les quelques inconséquences de Bruckner, facilement relevées par Buruma, qui faisait partie (contrairement – ce qui n’est pas la moindre des ironies – à Buruma lui-même!) de la petite et courageuse minorité défendant le droit des Irakiens à être délivrés de Saddam et des Américains à se défendre suite au 11/9 et qui maintenant reproche à Bush et Blair d’avoir privilégié la voie militaire ou qui, après avoir brillamment souligné la menace que pose l’islamisme pour nos sociétés ouvertes, réduit à présent la menace des mollahs iraniens à celle de tigres de papier.

Mais pour la différence clairement culturelle qu’elle révèle (au-delà des différences objectives notamment démographiques, la France ayant proportionnellement bien plus de « musulmans »), entre une approche « à la française » de laïcité pure et dure, c’est-à-dire imposée par l’Etat et une approche « à l’anglo-saxonne » qui se méfie de l’intervention étatique et conserve un certain respect pour la religion.

Et ce dans un débat qui porte au bout du compte sur la stratégie à choisir face à l’extrémisme islamique en Occident et dans le monde: à savoir jusqu’où faut-il aller, sans céder aux islamistes, pour accommoder la foi des Musulmans résidant en Occident en général et en Europe en particulier?

Autrement dit, pour prendre un exemple concret, devrions-nous accepter les plages séparées ou les hôpitaux musulmans?

D’abord, je dois dire que je partage tout à fait les réticences « anglo-saxonnes » face à l’interventionnisme étatique et le souci de respecter la place de la foi religieuse dans nos sociétés postmodernes.

De même, j’ai aussi quelques doutes sur certaines stratégies des pasionarias de la laïcité. Je n’ai vu, par exemple, que des extraits du film de Theo van Gogh et d’Ayaan Hirsi Ali (« Submission ») mais je dois dire que, tout en condamnant bien sûr l’assassinat et les menaces qui ont été portées contre eux, je ne suis pas du tout convaincu par l’association d’images de porno chic et de textes du Coran.

Tout comme je ne suis pas plus convaincu par l’insistance, elle aussi très « tendance », d’une Irshad Manji, à imposer son homosexualité comme un modèle possible d’islam, tout comme je ne comprends pas plus les attaques de l’ancienne responsable du lobby homosexuel français Caroline Fourest contre un prétendu fondamentalisme chrétien ou juif qui refuserait une telle imposition.

Mais je suis quand même déçu que, comme Blair ou même Bush, l’auteur de « L’occidentalisme: Une brève histoire de la guerre contre l’Occident » (qui rappelait avec raison que « si la haine à son égard a rencontré une audience extraordinaire dans le monde islamique, elle n’y est pas née et trouve ses origines au cœur même de l’Europe ») ne semble pas percevoir que d’après la doctrine de l’islam un « bon musulman » ne peut être « modéré » ainsi que le danger qu’il y a à ne pas prendre au sérieux les islamistes qui avancent masqués comme les Tariq Ramadan.

Que, comme les Néerlandais l’ont appris à leurs dépens et comme le montre bien la militante des droits de la personne d’origine turque Necla Kelek, l’islam lui-même (et pas seulement l’islamisme) n’est pas une religion comme les autres et qu’il relève du totalitarisme.

Que derrière, les plages réservées et les hôpitaux musulmans (les hôpitaux chrétiens ou juifs soignent eux tous les patients indépendamment de leur sexe ou religion), il y a une tentative d’imposer à nos sociétés une loi religieuse (la loi islamique) à tous les domaines de la vie.

Et surtout que ce qui irrite le plus les islamistes, c’est en fait, et contrairement à ce que prétendent les culturalistes même modérés comme MM. Buruma et Garton Ash, moins les défenseurs radicaux des Lumières que ceux qui prônent la tolérance informe du tout et n’importe quoi.

Extraits:

I can tell you, Mr Buruma, why Italian beaches reserved for Muslim women are « so much more terrible. » Unlike kosher dining or a case of the flu requiring hospitalisation, the beach is a Muslim attempt to bring about change. Whether it is headscarves or gender-specific separation of public space, political Islam is trying to establish apartheid of the sexes in free European societies. A Muslim hospital is fundamentally different from a Catholic hospital. In a Muslim hospital, patients are separated according to gender. Men may be treated only by men, women only by women. Muslim female nurses, for example, may not wash male patients, they may not even touch them.

In Germany a growing number of doctors complain of Muslim men trying to prevent their womenfolk from being treated, or even examined, by male physicians in hospitals. I know of Muslim women who are permitted to visit a doctor only when accompanied by their son. In Islamic hospitals the husbands decide whether a caesarian will be carried out, or whether their wives may have themselves sterilised after bearing four children. A recent article (excerpt in English here) in Le Monde gives the startling details. And not long ago the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet carried a news story about a woman radiologist in Istanbul who refused on religious grounds to examine a young man who had been injured in his lower body. That is terrible, Mr Buruma.

Love of one’s neighbour is as alien to the Muslim religion as pastoral care. But that is another matter. I regard it as tasteless to denigrate the work of Catholic nuns by this « all religions are alike » relativism. It seems Mr Buruma does not know whereof he speaks when he speaks of Islam. The Islamic propagators of beaches and hospitals and mosques are not concerned with humane issues nor with religious categories. Their objective is to establish the vertical separation of men and women within democratic societies.

Islam is a social reality. Despite all differences of detail, in its writings and its philosophy it constitutes a cohesive view of mankind and the world. Let us look at the question of human rights and women’s rights, for example. In those areas, Muslims are very united indeed. On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the highest international secular body in the Muslim world, signed « The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. » In that document, Muslims from around the world expressed their common attitudes towards human rights. It was intended as an appendix to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration is not binding under international law, but it illuminates the global attitude of Islam with respect to fundamental rights. The fact that it constitutes a minimal consensus, rather than an extreme view, makes it all the more illuminating.

The most important statements of this document are to be found in its two final articles:
Article 24: « All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia. »
Article 25: « The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification [of] any of the articles of this Declaration. »

And in contrast to the UN Declaration, the Cairo Declaration’s preamble states that the members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference reaffirm « the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah, which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilisation… »

Unlike in democratic constitutions, there is no talk here of the individual, but rather of the Ummah, the Community of the Faithful, the collective. As a logical consequence, the Cairo Declaration acknowledges only those rights specified in the Koran and, in keeping with Sharia, regards only those acts so judged by both the Koran and the Sunnah to be criminal. Article 19 of the Declaration states: « There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia. » Article 2 Paragraph D maintains: « Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach it without a Sharia-prescribed reason. » That would be the case, for example, according to the Koran’s Sura 17, Verse 33: « And kill no one, for God has forbidden killing, except when you are entitled to do so »! The Koran also says: « When a person is killed unjustly, the nearest relation has authority to take vengeance. » What is that if not a blessing on blood vengeance by Muslim foreign ministers?

Mr Buruma’s stereotypes
Necla Kelek
Signandsight
2007-02-05

Turkish German author Necla Kelek responds to Ian Buruma in the debate on multiculturalism and integration in Europe.

Reading his response to Pascal Bruckner’s essay « Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists? » one is tempted to say to Ian Buruma, « If only you had kept quiet! » He clearly felt himself caught out, and despite his insistence to the contrary, his reply only leads him further into the swamp of cultural relativism. If Mr Buruma were alone in his views, one might have left things as they were and simply referred the reader to Bruckner’s essay, a response to Timothy Garton Ash. But both Ash and Buruma are quite typical in their argumentation, and virtually exemplary in their politically dubious cultural relativism.

Both make ample use of stereotypes. The first is: « Islam is diverse. » Buruma writes, « Islam, as practised in Java, is not the same as in a Moroccan village, or the Sudan, or Rotterdam. » That may be true in the details, but not in the fundamentals. For Buruma, however, the details justify criticism that is as devastating as it is false. He maintains that one cannot make generalised statements about Islam, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does. That is a rather astonishing statement from a man who is an academic at Bard College in New York, and a professor of democracy and human rights. With that brief assertion, Mr Buruma attempts to reduce the West’s confrontation with Islam to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s personal problem.

Islam is a social reality. Despite all differences of detail, in its writings and its philosophy it constitutes a cohesive view of mankind and the world. Let us look at the question of human rights and women’s rights, for example. In those areas, Muslims are very united indeed. On August 5, 1990, 45 foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the highest international secular body in the Muslim world, signed « The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. » In that document, Muslims from around the world expressed their common attitudes towards human rights. It was intended as an appendix to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration is not binding under international law, but it illuminates the global attitude of Islam with respect to fundamental rights. The fact that it constitutes a minimal consensus, rather than an extreme view, makes it all the more illuminating.

The most important statements of this document are to be found in its two final articles:
Article 24: « All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia. »
Article 25: « The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification [of] any of the articles of this Declaration. »

And in contrast to the UN Declaration, the Cairo Declaration’s preamble states that the members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference reaffirm « the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah, which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilisation… »

Unlike in democratic constitutions, there is no talk here of the individual, but rather of the Ummah, the Community of the Faithful, the collective. As a logical consequence, the Cairo Declaration acknowledges only those rights specified in the Koran and, in keeping with Sharia, regards only those acts so judged by both the Koran and the Sunnah to be criminal. Article 19 of the Declaration states: « There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia. » Article 2 Paragraph D maintains: « Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach it without a Sharia-prescribed reason. » That would be the case, for example, according to the Koran’s Sura 17, Verse 33: « And kill no one, for God has forbidden killing, except when you are entitled to do so »! The Koran also says: « When a person is killed unjustly, the nearest relation has authority to take vengeance. » What is that if not a blessing on blood vengeance by Muslim foreign ministers

Equal rights are not proposed in this Declaration. Rather, in Article 6 it states: « Woman is equal to man in human dignity » – in « dignity » not in rights, since the Koran’s Sura 4, Verse 34 stipulates: « Men are elevated above women, for God has placed them so by nature. » Thus men are given authority to exercise social control over and to denigrate women, as is made clear by Article 22 of the Declaration: « Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia » – that is, the Koran, issued in the seventh century of the Christian calendar and still binding for Muslims today.

And so it continues. Islam is declared the One True Faith, and « no one in principle has the right to suspend … or violate or ignore its commandments, in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets… Every person is individually responsible – and the Ummah collectively responsible – for their safeguard. » So states the Cairo Declaration. That statement not only runs contrary to human rights in general, it is an indirect justification of vigilante justice. Mr Buruma is aware of this problem; he writes about a case of such vigilante justice in his book, « Murder in Amsterdam. »

The Islamic states formulated this Declaration to assure themselves of their own unity. Beyond that, it is also a political programme designed to defend the identity of Islamic culture against capitalist globalisation. The Sharia is declared to be the basis of that cultural identity. And criticising that is supposed to be Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s personal problem?

But Mr Buruma has still more stereotypes up his sleeve. The next one: Islam is a religion like any other, or all religions are equal (or equally awful?). This time it is aimed against his critic, Pascal Bruckner. Mr Buruma writes: « In another typical fit of exaggeration, designed to tar by association, Bruckner mentions the opening of an Islamic hospital in Rotterdam and reserved beaches for Muslim women in Italy. I fail to see why this is so much more terrible than opening kosher restaurants, Catholic hospitals, or reserved beaches for nudists. »

I can tell you, Mr Buruma, why Italian beaches reserved for Muslim women are « so much more terrible. » Unlike kosher dining or a case of the flu requiring hospitalisation, the beach is a Muslim attempt to bring about change. Whether it is headscarves or gender-specific separation of public space, political Islam is trying to establish apartheid of the sexes in free European societies. A Muslim hospital is fundamentally different from a Catholic hospital. In a Muslim hospital, patients are separated according to gender. Men may be treated only by men, women only by women. Muslim female nurses, for example, may not wash male patients, they may not even touch them.

In Germany a growing number of doctors complain of Muslim men trying to prevent their womenfolk from being treated, or even examined, by male physicians in hospitals. I know of Muslim women who are permitted to visit a doctor only when accompanied by their son. In Islamic hospitals the husbands decide whether a caesarian will be carried out, or whether their wives may have themselves sterilised after bearing four children. A recent article (excerpt in English here) in Le Monde gives the startling details. And not long ago the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet carried a news story about a woman radiologist in Istanbul who refused on religious grounds to examine a young man who had been injured in his lower body. That is terrible, Mr Buruma.

Love of one’s neighbour is as alien to the Muslim religion as pastoral care. But that is another matter. I regard it as tasteless to denigrate the work of Catholic nuns by this « all religions are alike » relativism. It seems Mr Buruma does not know whereof he speaks when he speaks of Islam. The Islamic propagators of beaches and hospitals and mosques are not concerned with humane issues nor with religious categories. Their objective is to establish the vertical separation of men and women within democratic societies.

Buruma’s third stereotype goes: Critics of Islam are denunciators. He writes that Hirsi Ali’s « denunciations » are not very « helpful ». Would he also consider citing historically proven cases, such as Mohammed’s marriage to the six-year-old Aisha, whom he then bedded at age nine, among the « not very helpful denunciations »? In her book « The Caged Virgin, » Hirsi Ali speaks of this in order to criticise the Islamic sexual morality which developed post-Mohammed. In Mr Buruma’s view, she should not have done so because as an « avowed atheist » – next stereotype – she could not contribute to the reform of Islam. Another astonishing position for an academic specialising in human rights and democracy.

Cultural relativists prefer not to hear about arranged marriages, honour killings (25 deaths in Istanbul last year alone) and other violations of human rights. These things are burdensome. What else can it mean when Mr Buruma writes: « Condemning Islam without taking the many variations into account, is too indiscriminate. » If Mr Buruma wants to take a serious look at the disregard of « variations » in the Muslim world, he’s set himlsef a large task. To cite just one out of many possible examples: What to do with all the women living in the over 60 countries where Sharia law oibtains, who are not allowed to marry without a Wali, that is, without the permission of a parent or guardian? Where are the variations there, Mr Buruma?

Mr Buruma boasts that he knows the world of South Korean rebels. But the Muslim world appears alien to him, and the values of Western society relative. Thanks to Pascal Bruckner, he rightly fears for his intellectual reputation. The fact that in his reply to Bruckner he tried to rescue that reputation at the expense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not make matters better. It didn’t work, Mr Buruma.

*

The article originally appeared in German on Perlentaucher on February 5, 2007.

Necla Kelek was born in Istanbul in 1957 and moved to Germany at the age of 10. Her books include « Die Fremde Braut » (The Foreign Bride) about arranged and forced marriages of Turkish migrants, and « Die verlorenen Söhne » (Lost Sons) about the socialization, violence, and faith of Turkish-Muslim men.

Translation: Myron Gubitz

Voir la réponse de Buruma à Bruckner:

Freedom cannot be decreed
Ian Buruma
Signandsight
2007-01-29

There are many reasons why it would be desirable for Muslims, or anybody else, to feel free to reinterpret their religious texts. But this surely is not the business of the state, for that opens the way to authoritarianism. By Ian Buruma

I cannot answer for Timothy Garton Ash, or « the Anglo-Saxons, » so I shall speak only for myself. If Mr Bruckner has been kind enough to read my book, I’m not sure how he came to the conclusion that it was an attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The last two sentences of « Murder in Amsterdam » are: « And Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had to leave the scene [The Netherlands]. My country seems smaller without her. »

I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and agree with most of what she stands for. Liberal democracy must be defended against violent extremism, and women should be protected from abuse. There can be no religious justification for it. My skepticism is about her analysis of the social problems in European societies caused by the influx of large numbers of non-Western refugees and immigrants. Revolutionary Islamism, emanating from the Middle-East, is indeed a threat to all free societies. Where I differ from Hirsi Ali is perhaps a matter of emphasis. Having turned from devout Islamism to atheism, she tends to see religion, and Islam in particular, as the root of all evils, especially of the abuse of women. Cultural traditions, tribal customs, historical antecedents, all of which are highly diverse, even inside the Muslim world, are flattened into a monolithic threat. Islam, as practised in Java, is not the same as in a Moroccan village, or the Sudan, or Rotterdam. In her autobiography, Hirsi Ali herself describes the considerable differences between her native Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

In Europe, even the issue of headscarves cannot be treated simply as a symbol of religious bigotry. Some women wear them to ward off male aggression, others because their parents insist on it, and some by their own choice, as a defiant badge of identity, even rebellion. Bruckner admires rebels. Should we only side with rebels whose views and practices we like? Or does living in a free society also imply that people should be able to choose the way they look, or speak, or worship, even if we don’t like it, as long as they don’t harm others? A free-spirited citizen does not tolerate different customs or cultures because he thinks they are wonderful, but because he believes in freedom.

To be tolerant is not to be indiscriminate. I would not dream of defending dictatorship in the name of tolerance for other cultures. Violence against women, or indeed men, is intolerable, and should be punished by law. I would not defend the genital mutilation of children, let alone wife-beating, no matter how it is rationalized. Honour killings are murders, and must be treated as such. But these are matters of law enforcement. Figuring out how to stop violent ideologies from infecting mainstream Muslims, and thus threatening free societies, is trickier. I’m not convinced that public statements, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali has made, that Islam in general is « backward » and its prophet « perverse », are helpful.

She has the perfect right to say these things, of course, just as Mr Bruckner has the right to describe Muslims as « brutes ». I am not in the slightest bit « embarrassed » by her critique of Islam, nor have I ever denied her the right « to refer to Voltaire. » But if Islamic reform is the goal, then such denunciations are not the best way to achieve it, especially if they come from an avowed atheist. Condemning Islam, without taking the many variations into account, is too indiscriminate. Not every Muslim, not even every orthodox Muslim, is a holy warrior in spe. Isolating the jihadis and fighting their dangerous dogmas is too important to be dealt with by crude polemics.

Mr Bruckner is an important French intellectual, so I’m sure he doesn’t have to be told this, just as I don’t need to be lectured by him on the perils of cultural relativism. But he appears to be less interested in a subtle argument than in easy rhetorical tricks. One is the use of the strawman, or tainting by association. Take the example of Ayaan Hirsi Ali being compared to fascists or even Nazis. I, for one, have never accused her of being either. The example, quoted by Bruckner, of a Dutch critic « calling her a Nazi, » is from my own book. In fact, the Dutch writer Geert Mak never called her a Nazi. He compared the tone of her film « Submission » to Nazi propaganda, and I criticized him for it. But Bruckner uses this isolated example to suggest that I, and other « armchair philosophers » brand « the defenders of liberty » as fascists, while portraying the fanatics as victims.

It is an interesting sensation, by the way, to be called an armchair philosopher by Mr Brucker. And here I can also speak for Timothy Garton Ash; while he was spending years with Central European dissidents, and I with Chinese and South Korean rebels, Bruckner, so far as I know, rarely strayed far from the centre of Paris. But this is by the by.

In another typical fit of exaggeration, designed to tar by association, Bruckner mentions the opening of an Islamic hospital in Rotterdam and reserved beaches for Muslim women in Italy. I fail to see why this is so much more terrible than opening kosher restaurants, Catholic hospitals, or reserved beaches for nudists, but to Bruckner these concessions are akin to segregation in the southern states of America, and even Apartheid in South Africa. No wonder, then, that I, among others, am also associated with the Inquisition and medieval witch-hunting. Why? Because Tim Garton Ash pointed out Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s undeniable beauty and glamour. Perhaps he shouldn’t have pointed this out, but the Inquisition?

The question is what to do about radical Islamism. Bruckner, in a strange sleight of hand, believes that Garton Ash and I « fall in » with US and British policies, even as we « disapprove of these policies. » I’m not quite sure what he means by this. But then he goes on to attack Bush and Blair for « focusing on military issues to the detriment of intellectual debate. » I was indeed against this « focusing », especially in the case of the second Iraq war, while Bruckner was busily writing petitions promoting that war. He is entitled to change his mind, of course, but it is not immediately clear why messrs Blair and Bush were guilty of « starry-eyed naivete, » if Bruckner himself was not. Anyway, he now believes that our governments should « strike on the ‘terrain of dogma’, on the reinterpretation of holy scriptures and religious texts. »

Here we may indeed have stumbled on a cultural difference. In a peculiar fit of Gallic chauvinism, Bruckner declares « the superiority of the French model. » There is something quaintly old-fashioned, and even refreshing, about this kind of national pride. But what is it that Bruckner finds so superior? Laicité, I suppose, and republicanism. I would immediately concede that there is much to be admired about France, and its « model ». However, Bruckner’s notion that the state should get involved in dogmas, or the interpretation of holy scriptures, may have some bearing on the history of post-revolutionary France. In any case, I think it is a bad idea. There are many reasons why it would be desirable for Muslims, or anybody else, to feel free to reinterpret their religious texts, and for all of us to challenge dogmas. But this surely is not the business of the state, for that opens the way to authoritarianism.

What, in any case, does Bruckner propose to do about millions of Muslim believers living in Europe? Tell them how to intepret their holy scriptures? Force them to follow Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s example and renounce their faith? Perhaps it would be better if they did so of their own free will, but expecting the state to make them do so is not entirely in keeping with Bruckner’s self-image of an enlightened freedom-fighter.

A common feature of Bruckner’s kind of polemics is the frequent use of the words « appeasement » and « collaborator ». This is rarely done innocently. The idea is to associate people who seek an accommodation with the majority of Muslims with Nazi collaborators. Unless he is simply being vicious, this can only mean that Bruckner sees the rise of Islamism as something on a par with the emergence of the Third Reich. If so, he is not alone. While seeing the dangers of Islamism, I regard this as too alarmist.

But here we get to the final Brucknerian sleight of hand, for after all his huffing and puffing about not giving an inch to the Muslims, about defending Ayaan Hirsi Ali against « the enemies of freedom, » such as myself, he suddenly concludes that « there is nothing that resembles the formidable peril of the Third Reich » and even that « the government of Mullahs in Tehran is a paper tiger. » Now it is us, the armchair philosophers, who are the panic-stricken alarmists, who have lost the courage to « defend Europe. » Now where have we heard that kind of thing before? The need to defend Europe against alien threats; the fatigued, self-doubting, weak-kneed intellectuals… but no, now I am descending to the level of Pascal Buckner, the rebel king of the Left Bank.

*

This text, published in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher is a response to an article by Pascal Bruckner, which appeared on signandsight.com on January 24, 1007.

Ian Buruma is a Dutch-born historian and journalist. He is currently Henry R. Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Voir enfin le texte de Bruckner (en version courte française et longue anglaise):

Extraits:

Les Lumières appartiennent au genre humain tout entier et non à quelques privilégiés nés en Europe ou en Amérique du Nord, qui se permettent en plus de les piétiner comme des enfants gâtés, d’en refuser la jouissance aux autres. S’il est un multiculturalisme légitime tant qu’il reste modéré, sa version anglo-saxonne n’est peut-être rien d’autre qu’un apartheid légal où l’on retrouve les accents attendris des riches expliquant aux pauvres que l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur : à nous les fardeaux de la liberté, de l’invention de soi, de l’égalité entre les sexes, à vous les joies de l’archaïsme, des abus reconvertis sous le beau nom de coutumes ancestrales, le mariage forcé, le voile, la polygamie.

Encore faut-il ne pas se tromper d’interlocuteurs, ériger en amis de la tolérance des fondamentalistes qui usent de la dissimulation, investissent la gauche et l’intelligentsia pour avancer leurs pions et s’épargner l’épreuve de la laïcité.

la faillite de George W. Bush et de Tony Blair dans leurs guerres contre la terreur vient aussi de ce qu’ils ont privilégié le terrain militaire au détriment du débat d’idées.

Point de vue
En finir avec le multiculturalisme
Pascal Bruckner
Le Monde
Le 19.02.07

Les ennemis de la liberté se recrutent d’abord dans les sociétés libres, chez une partie des élites éclairées qui dénient le bénéfice des droits démocratiques au reste de l’humanité, voire à leurs compatriotes, si ceux-ci ont le malheur d’appartenir à une autre religion, à une autre ethnie. Il suffit pour s’en convaincre de lire deux écrits récents, le livre d’Ian Buruma On a tué Theo Van Gogh (Flammarion, 2006) et la critique de ce même livre par le journaliste et universitaire anglais Timothy Garton Ash parue dans le New York Review of Books.

Ian Buruma cache mal son agacement pour l’engagement de la députée néerlandaise d’origine somalienne Ayaan Hirsi Ali, amie de Theo Van Gogh, elle-même condamnée à mort et dont la critique du Coran l’embarrasse. Timothy Garton Ash est plus brutal encore : pour lui, apôtre du multiculturalisme, l’attitude d’Ayaan Hirsi Ali est à la fois irresponsable et contre-productive. Son verdict est implacable :  » Ayaan Hirsi Ali est aujourd’hui une courageuse et légèrement simpliste fondamentaliste des Lumières. »

Dans le cas précis d’Ayaan Hirsi Ali, elle-même excisée, vouée à un mariage forcé et qui s’est échappée d’Afrique pour trouver asile aux Pays-Bas, l’accusation est d’abord fausse : la différence entre elle et Mohammed Bouyeri, le meurtrier de Theo Van Gogh, c’est qu’elle n’a jamais préconisé le meurtre pour faire triompher ses idées. Les seules armes dont elle use sont la persuasion, la réfutation, le discours. On reste là dans le cercle de la raison raisonnable et non dans la pathologie du prosélytisme. L’espérance de faire reculer la tyrannie et la superstition ne semble pas relever d’une exaltation malsaine. Mais Ayaan Hirsi Ali a commis, aux yeux de nos gentils professeurs, un crime impardonnable : elle prend au sérieux les principes démocratiques.

Ian Buruma, non sans perfidie, dénie à Ayaan Hirsi Ali le droit de se référer à Voltaire : celui-ci aurait affronté l’une des institutions les plus puissantes de son temps, l’Eglise catholique, quand elle se contente d’offenser  » une minorité vulnérable au coeur de l’Europe ». C’est oublier que l’islam n’a pas de frontières : les communautés musulmanes du Vieux Monde qui s’adossent sur plus d’un milliard de croyants, traversés de courants divers, peuvent devenir l’aile avancée d’une offensive intégriste ou donner au contraire l’exemple d’une religiosité plus conforme à la mesure. Ce n’est pas une mince affaire, c’est même l’un des enjeux majeurs du XXIe siècle !

Isolée, promise à l’égorgement par les radicaux, contrainte de vivre entourée de gardes du corps, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doit en plus subir, comme Robert Redeker, ce professeur de philosophie français menacé de mort par des sites islamistes, les sarcasmes des grands esprits et des donneurs de leçon. Les défenseurs de la liberté seraient donc des fascistes, tandis que les fanatiques sont dépeints comme des victimes !

On oublie qu’il existe un despotisme des minorités rétives à l’assimilation si elle ne s’accompagne pas d’un statut d’extraterritorialité, de dérogations spéciales. On leur refuse ce qui a été notre privilège : le passage d’un monde à un autre, de la tradition à la modernité, de l’obéissance aveugle à la décision raisonnée. La protection des minorités implique aussi le droit pour les individus qui en font partie de s’en retirer sans dommage, par l’indifférence, l’athéisme, le mariage mixte, l’oubli des solidarités claniques ou familiales, de se forger un destin qui leur soit propre sans reproduire ce que leurs parents leur avaient légué.

La minorité ethnique, sexuelle, religieuse, régionale n’est souvent rien d’autre, en raison des offenses subies, qu’une petite nation rendue à son angélisme, chez qui le chauvinisme le plus outrancier n’est que l’expression d’un légitime amour-propre. Le chantage à la solidarité ethnique, religieuse, raciale, la dénonciation des apostats, des félons, des « bougnoules de service », des « Oncle Tom » et autres « Bounty » servent de rappel à l’ordre pour les récalcitrants éventuels et brisent leur aspiration à l’autonomie.

Il n’est donc pas surprenant que la réprimande de nos intellectuels s’exerce à l’endroit d’une Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Rien ne manque au tableau que Timothy Garton Ash dresse de la jeune femme, pas même un machisme suranné : seule la beauté de la parlementaire hollandaise, son côté glamour expliqueraient, selon lui, son succès médiatique et non la justesse de ses attaques. Timothy Garton Ash ne se demande pas si l’islamologue Tarik Ramadan auquel il adresse des dithyrambes enflammés ne doit pas lui aussi sa renommée à son physique de play-boy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, il est vrai, déjoue les stéréotypes du politiquement correct en cours : Somalienne, elle proclame la supériorité de l’Europe sur cette région de l’Afrique ; femme, elle échappe au destin d’épouse et de mère ; musulmane, elle dénonce ouvertement l’arriération du Coran. Autant de clichés bafoués qui font d’elle une insoumise et non une de ces insurgées en toc comme nos sociétés en produisent à la pelle.

Les Lumières appartiennent au genre humain tout entier et non à quelques privilégiés nés en Europe ou en Amérique du Nord, qui se permettent en plus de les piétiner comme des enfants gâtés, d’en refuser la jouissance aux autres. S’il est un multiculturalisme légitime tant qu’il reste modéré, sa version anglo-saxonne n’est peut-être rien d’autre qu’un apartheid légal où l’on retrouve les accents attendris des riches expliquant aux pauvres que l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur : à nous les fardeaux de la liberté, de l’invention de soi, de l’égalité entre les sexes, à vous les joies de l’archaïsme, des abus reconvertis sous le beau nom de coutumes ancestrales, le mariage forcé, le voile, la polygamie.

Et si la dissidence des musulmans britanniques venait non seulement du rigorisme de leurs leaders, mais aussi de la perception confuse que les égards dont ils bénéficient de la part des autorités manifestent une forme subtile de dédain, comme si on les jugeait trop arriérés pour accéder aux bienfaits de la civilisation ?

Il existe enfin un argument qui milite contre le multiculturalisme pur et dur à la britannique : de l’aveu même des gouvernants, il ne marche pas. Non content d’avoir été pendant des années la terre d’asile du djihad, avec les conséquences dramatiques que l’on sait, le Royaume-Uni doit admettre, aujourd’hui, que son modèle social, fondé sur le communautarisme et le séparatisme, ne fonctionne plus. On a beaucoup raillé l’autoritarisme français lors du vote sur le voile islamique qui interdisait aux femmes et aux jeunes filles de le porter à l’école et dans les locaux administratifs.

Comment expliquer alors que, en Grande-Bretagne, en Hollande, en Allemagne, des responsables politiques, choqués par la généralisation de la burka ou du hidjab soient tentés à leur tour de légiférer sur ce sujet ? Les faits sont cruels pour les temporisateurs qui enjoignent l’Europe de se plier à l’islam plutôt que l’islam à la civilisation européenne : plus on cède au radicalisme des barbus, plus ils durcissent le ton.

A dire vrai, les positions d’Ian Buruma et de Timothy Garton Ash sont dans la droite ligne de leurs gouvernements américain et britannique (même s’ils les désapprouvent politiquement) : la faillite de George W. Bush et de Tony Blair dans leurs guerres contre la terreur vient aussi de ce qu’ils ont privilégié le terrain militaire au détriment du débat d’idées. ( ???)

Or la mobilisation en faveur d’un islam européen éclairé est capitale : l’Europe peut devenir un modèle, un foyer de rayonnement pour la réforme de ce monothéisme dont on espère qu’il sera gagné un jour, à l’exemple de Vatican II pour les catholiques, par l’autocritique et l’examen de conscience. Encore faut-il ne pas se tromper d’interlocuteurs, ériger en amis de la tolérance des fondamentalistes qui usent de la dissimulation, investissent la gauche et l’intelligentsia pour avancer leurs pions et s’épargner l’épreuve de la laïcité.

Pascal Bruckner est écrivain, essayiste. La version intégrale de ce texte est consultable sur le site : signandsight.com

Extraits:

This is the paradox of multiculturalism: it accords the same treatment to all communities, but not to the people who form them, denying them the freedom to liberate themselves from their own traditions. Instead: recognition of the group, oppression of the individual. The past is valued over the wills of those who wish to leave custom and the family behind and – for example – love in the manner they see fit.

Multiculturalism is a racism of the anti-racists: it chains people to their roots. Thus Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam and one of the mainstays of the Dutch state, demands that one accept « the conscious discrimination of women by certain groups of orthodox Muslims » on the basis that we need a « new glue » to « hold society together. » In the name of social cohesion, we are invited to give our roaring applause for the intolerance that these groups show for our laws. The coexistence of hermetic little societies is cherished, each of which follows a different norm. If we abandon a collective criterion for discriminating between just and unjust, we sabotage the very idea of national community. A French, British or Dutch citizen will be prosecuted for beating his wife, for example. But should the crime go unpunished if it turns out that the perpetrator is a Sunni or Shiite?

The generous desire to be accomodating – like that of the Canadian province of Ontario which sought to judge Muslims according to the Sharia, at least for litigations of succession and family – or the proposition of a former German constitutional judge, Jutta Limbach, to create a minority status in the German Basic Law excusing Muslim girls from gym class, is experienced as a regression, a new imprisonment (10).
condoning a subtle segregation camouflaged as diversity. Unabashed praise for the beauty of all the cultures may hide the same twisted paternalism as that of the colonialists of yesteryear. One may counter that since Islam appeared in the 7th century, it will inevitably be somewhat behind or, as Tariq Ramadan maintains, the faithful masses have not matured to the point where they can abandon practices such as stoning (he himself calls for a moratorium on stoning, not a full stop) (11)

It is astonishing that 62 years after the fall of the Third Reich and 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an important segment Europe’s intelligentsia is engaged in slandering the friends of democracy.

2007-01-24

Enlightenment fundamentalism or racism of the anti-racists?

Pascal Bruckner defends Ayaan Hirsi Ali against Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, condemning their idea of multiculturalism for chaining people to their roots
« What to say to a man who tells you he prefers to obey God than to obey men, and who is consequently sure of entering the gates of Heaven by slitting your throat? » – Voltaire

« Colonisation and slavery have created a sentiment of culpability in the West that leads people to adulate foreign traditions. This is a lazy, even racist attitude. » – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

There’s no denying that the enemies of freedom come from free societies, from a slice of the enlightened elite who deny the benefits of democratic rights to the rest of humanity, and more specifically to their compatriots, if they’re unfortunate enough to belong to another religion or ethnic group. To be convinced of this one need only glance through two recent texts: « Murder in Amsterdam » by the British-Dutch author Ian Buruma on the murder of Theo Van Gogh (1) and the review of this book by English journalist and academic Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books (2). Buruma’s reportage, executed in the Anglo-Saxon style, is fascinating in that it gives voice to all of the protagonists of the drama, the murderer as well as his victim, with apparent impartiality. The author, nevertheless, cannot hide his annoyance at the former Dutch member of parliament of Somali origin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a friend of Van Gogh’s and also the subject of death threats. Buruma is embarrassed by her critique of the Koran.

Garton Ash is even harder on her. For him, the apostle of multiculturalism, Hirsi Ali’s attitude is both irresponsible and counter-productive. His verdict is implacable: « Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now a brave, outspoken, slightly simplistic Enlightenment fundamentalist. » (3). He backs up his argument with the fact that this outspoken young woman belonged in her youth to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. For Garton Ash, she has merely exchanged one credo for another, fanaticism for the prophet for that of reason.

This argument of equivalence is not new. It was used throughout the 19th century by the Catholic Church to block reforms, and more recently in France at the time of the « Islamic Headscarf Affair » by those opposed to the law. In the case of Hirsi Ali, herself subject to female circumcision and forced marriage, who escaped Africa to the Netherlands, the accusation is simply false. The difference between her and Muhammad Bouyeri, the killer of Theo Van Gogh, is that she never advocated murder to further her ideas.

« The Koran is the work of man and not of God, » she writes. « Consequently we should feel free to interpret and adapt it to modern times, rather than bending over backwards to live as the first believers did in a distant, terrible time. » (4) One searches this sentence in vain for the least hint of sectarianism. Hirsi Ali’s sole weapons are persuasion, refutation and discourse. Far from the pathology of proselytism, she never transgresses the domain of reason. Her hope of pushing back tyranny and superstition does not seem to result from unsound or unhealthy exaltation. But in the eyes of our genteel professors, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, like the dissenting Muslims Taslima Nasreen, Wafa Sultan, (see her interview on al Jazeera), Irshad Manji, Seyran Ates and Necla Kelek, has committed an unpardonable offence: she has taken democratic principles seriously.

It is well known that in the struggle of the weak against the strong, it is easier to attack the former. Those who resist will always be accused by the cowardly of exciting the hatred of the powerful.

Not without perfidy, Ian Buruma denies Ayaan Hirsi Ali the right to refer to Voltaire. Voltaire, he writes, confronted one of the most powerful institutions of his time, the Catholic Church, while Hirsi Ali contents herself with offending « a vulnerable minority in the heart of Europe. » (5) However, this statement disregards the fact that Islam has no borders: the Muslim communities of the Old World are backed up by a billion faithful. Crisscrossed by diverse currents, they can either become the advance wing of a fundamentalist offensive or exemplify a type of religiosity more in harmony with reason. Far from being a negligible affair, this is one of the major challenges of the 21st century!

It’s not enough that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to live like a recluse, threatened with having her throat slit by radicals and surrounded by bodyguards. She – like the French philosophy professor Robert Redeker who has also been issued death threats on Islamicist websites – has to endure the ridicule of the high-minded idealists and armchair philosophers. She has even been called a Nazi in the Netherlands. (6) Thus the defenders of liberty are styled as fascists, while the fanatics are portrayed as victims!

This vicious mechanism is well known. Those who revolt against barbarism are themselves accused of being barbarians. In politics as in philosophy, the equals sign is always an abdication. If thinking involves weighing one’s words to name the world well, drawing comparisons in other words, then levelling distinctions testifies to intellectual bankruptcy. Shouting CRS = SS as in May ’68, making Bush = Bin Laden or equating Voltaire to Savonarola is giving cheap satisfaction to questionable approximations. Similarly, the Enlightenment is often depicted as nothing but another religion, as mad and intransigent as the Catholicism of the Inquisition or radical Islam. After Heidegger, a whole run of thinkers from Gadamer to Derrida have contested the claims of the Enlightenment to embody a new age of self-conscious history. On the contrary, they say, all the evils of our epoch were spawned by this philosophical and literary episode: capitalism, colonialism, totalitarianism. For them, criticism of prejudices is nothing but a prejudice itself, proving that humanity is incapable of self-reflection. For them, the chimeras of certain men of letters who were keen to make a clean slate of God and revelation, were responsible for plunging Europe into darkness. In an abominable dialectic, the dawn of reason gave birth to nothing but monsters (Horkheimer, Adorno).

The entire history of the 20th century attests to the fanaticism of modernity. And it’s incontestable that the belief in progress has taken on the aspect of a faith, with its high priests from Saint Simon to August Comte, not forgetting Victor Hugo. The hideous secular religions of Nazism and communism, with their deadly rituals and mass massacres, were just as gruesome as the worst theocracies – of which they, at least as far as communism goes, considered themselves the radical negation. More people were killed in opposition to God in the 20th century than in the name of God. No matter that first Nazism and then communism were defeated by democratic regimes inspired by the Enlightenment, human rights, tolerance and pluralism. Luckily, Romanticism mitigated the abstraction of the Enlightenment and its claims to having created a new man, freed from religious sentiment and things of the flesh.

Today we are heirs to both movements, and understand how to reconcile the particularity of national, linguistic and cultural ties with the universality of the human race. Modernity has been self-critical and suspicious of its own ideals for a long time now, denouncing the sacralisation of an insane reason that was blind to its own zeal. In a word, it acquired a certain wisdom and an understanding of its limits. The Enlightenment, in turn, showed itself capable of reviewing its mistakes. Denouncing the excesses of the Enlightenment in the concepts that it forged means being true to its spirit. These concepts are part and parcel of the contemporary make up, to the point that even religious fanatics make use of them to promote their cause. Whether we like it or not, we are the sons of this controversial century, compelled to damn our fathers in the language they bequeathed to us. And since the Enlightenment triumphed even over its worst enemies, there is no doubt that it will also strike down the Islamist hydra, provided it believes in itself and abstains from condemning the rare reformers of Islam to the darkness of reprobation.

Today we combine two concepts of liberty: one has its origins in the 18th century, founded on emancipation from tradition and authority. The other, originating in anti-imperialist anthropology, is based on the equal dignity of cultures which could not be evaluated merely on the basis of our criteria. Relativism demands that we see our values simply as the beliefs of the particular tribe we call the West. Multiculturalism is the result of this process. Born in Canada in 1971, it’s principle aim is to assure the peaceful cohabitation of populations of different ethnic or racial origins on the same territory. In multiculturalism, every human group has a singularity and legitimacy that form the basis of its right to exist, conditioning its interaction with others. The criteria of just and unjust, criminal and barbarian, disappear before the absolute criterion of respect for difference. There is no longer any eternal truth: the belief in this stems from naïve ethnocentrism.

Anyone with a mind to contend timidly that liberty is indivisible, that the life of a human being has the same value everywhere, that amputating a thief’s hand or stoning an adulteress is intolerable everywhere, is duly arraigned in the name of the necessary equality of cultures. As a result, we can turn a blind eye to how others live and suffer once they’ve been parked in the ghetto of their particularity. Enthusing about their inviolable differentness alleviates us from having to worry about their condition. However it is one thing to recognise the convictions and rites of fellow citizens of different origins, and another to give one’s blessing to hostile insular communities that throw up ramparts between themselves and the rest of society. How can we bless this difference if it excludes humanity instead of welcoming it? This is the paradox of multiculturalism: it accords the same treatment to all communities, but not to the people who form them, denying them the freedom to liberate themselves from their own traditions. Instead: recognition of the group, oppression of the individual. The past is valued over the wills of those who wish to leave custom and the family behind and – for example – love in the manner they see fit.

One tends to forget the outright despotism of minorities who are resistant to assimilation if it isn’t accompanied by a status of extraterritoriality and special dispensations. The result is that nations are created within nations, which, for example, feel Muslim before they feel English, Canadian or Dutch. Here identity wins out over nationality. Worse yet: under the guise of respecting specificity, individuals are imprisoned in an ethnic or racial definition, and plunged back into the restrictive mould from which they were supposedly in the process of being freed. Black people, Arabs, Pakistanis and Muslims are imprisoned in their history and assigned, as in the colonial era, to residence in their epidermis, their beliefs.

Thus they are refused what has always been our privilege: passing from one world to another, from tradition to modernity, from blind obedience to rational decision making. « I left the world of faith, of genital cutting (7) and marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values », Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in her autobiography (8). The protection of minorities also implies the right of individual members to extract themselves with impunity, through indifference, atheism and mixed marriage, to forget clan and family solidarities and to forge their own destinies, without having to reproduce the pattern bequeathed to them by their parents.

Out of consideration for all the abuses they may have suffered, ethnic, sexual, religious and regional minorities are often set up as small nations, in which the most outrageous chauvinism is passed off as nothing more than the expression of legitimate self-esteem. Instead of celebrating freedom as the power to escape determinism, the repetition of the past is being encouraged, reinforcing the power of collective coercion over private individuals. Marginal groups now form a sort of ethos-police, a flag-waving micro-nationalism which certain countries of Europe unfortunately see fit to publicly support. Under the guise of celebrating diversity, veritable ethnic or confessional prisons are established, where one group of citizens is denied the advantages accorded to others.

So it comes as no surprise that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is sanctioned by our intellectuals. Nothing is missing from the portrait of the young woman painted by Timothy Garton Ash, not even an outmoded machismo. In his eyes, only the beauty and glamour of the Dutch parliamentarian can explain her media success; not the accuracy of what she says. (9) Garton Ash does not ask whether the fundamentalist theologian Tariq Ramadan, to whom he sings enflamed panegyrics, also owes his fame to his Playboy looks. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it is true, does elude current stereotypes of political correctness. As a Somali, she proclaims the superiority of Europe over Africa. As a woman, she is neither wife nor mother. As a Muslim, she openly denounces the backwardness of the Koran. So many flouted cliches make her a true rebel, unlike the sham insurgents our societies produce by the dozen.

It is her wilful, short-fused, enthusiastic, impervious side to which Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash object, in the spirit of the inquisitors who saw devil-possessed witches in every woman too flamboyant for their tastes. Reading their utterly condescending words, it becomes clear that the war against Muslim fundamentalism will have to be won first on a symbolic level, and by women. Because they represent the pivot of the family and social order. Liberating them, guaranteeing them equal rights in all fields, is the first condition of progress in Arab Muslim societies. Incidentally, each time a Western country has wanted to codify minority rights, it is the members of these minorities, mostly women, who have risen up in protest. The generous desire to be accomodating – like that of the Canadian province of Ontario which sought to judge Muslims according to the Sharia, at least for litigations of succession and family – or the proposition of a former German constitutional judge, Jutta Limbach, to create a minority status in the German Basic Law excusing Muslim girls from gym class, is experienced as a regression, a new imprisonment (10).

The mystique of respect for others which is developing in the West is highly dubious. Because etymologically, respect means looking on from a distance. Remember that in the 19th century native peoples were seen as so different from us that it was unthinkable that they should adopt the European model, or even French citizenship. Once considered inferiority, the difference is now experienced as an impassable distance. Pushed to the extreme, this eulogy of autarky is at the base of ill-starred political measures. What was apartheid in South Africa if not the respect of singularity pushed to the point that the other no longer has the right to approach me?

So the search for religious equilibrium may frustrate the desire for change in a confession, maintaining the minority status of part of the population, in general women, and condoning a subtle segregation camouflaged as diversity. Unabashed praise for the beauty of all the cultures may hide the same twisted paternalism as that of the colonialists of yesteryear. One may counter that since Islam appeared in the 7th century, it will inevitably be somewhat behind or, as Tariq Ramadan maintains, the faithful masses have not matured to the point where they can abandon practices such as stoning (he himself calls for a moratorium on stoning, not a full stop) (11). This flies in the face of « the impatience for liberty » (Michel Foucault) which seizes Muslim elites when faced with the spectacle of laicist nations, freed from the fetters of restrictive dogma and retrograde morals.

The Enlightenment belongs to the entire human race, not just to a few privileged individuals in Europe or North America who have taken it upon themselves to kick it to bits like spoiled brats, to prevent others from having a go. Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism is perhaps nothing other than a legal apartheid, accompanied – as is so often the case – by the saccarine cajolery of the rich who explain to the poor that money doesn’t guarantee happiness. We bear the burdens of liberty, of self-invention, of sexual equality; you have the joys of archaism, of abuse as ancestral custom, of sacred prescriptions, forced marriage, the headscarf and polygamy. The members of these minorities are put under a preservation order, protected from the fanaticism of the Enlightenment and the « calamities » of progress. Those termed « Muslims » (North Africans, Pakistanis, Africans) are prohibited from not believing, or from believing periodically, from not giving a damn about God, from creating a life for themselves far away from the Koran and the rites of the tribe.

Multiculturalism is a racism of the anti-racists: it chains people to their roots. Thus Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam and one of the mainstays of the Dutch state, demands that one accept « the conscious discrimination of women by certain groups of orthodox Muslims » on the basis that we need a « new glue » to « hold society together. » In the name of social cohesion, we are invited to give our roaring applause for the intolerance that these groups show for our laws. The coexistence of hermetic little societies is cherished, each of which follows a different norm. If we abandon a collective criterion for discriminating between just and unjust, we sabotage the very idea of national community. A French, British or Dutch citizen will be prosecuted for beating his wife, for example. But should the crime go unpunished if it turns out that the perpetrator is a Sunni or Shiite? Should his faith give him the right to transgress the law of the land? This is the glorification in others of what we have always beaten ourselves up about: outrageous protectionism, cultural narcissism and inveterate ethnocentrism!

This tolerance harbours contempt, because it assumes that certain communities are incapable of modernising. Could it be that the dissidence of British Muslims is not only a function of the retrograde rigorism of their leaders, but also stems from a vague suspicion that all the consideration show to them by the state is little more than a subtle form of disdain, basically telling them that they are just too backward for modern civilisation ? Several communes in Italy are planning to reserve certain beaches for Muslim women, so they may bathe unexposed to male eyes. And within a few years the first « Islamic hospital, » complying in all points with the prescriptions of the Koran, may open in Rotterdam. Anyone would think we are reliving the days of segregation in the southern United States. Yet this segregation has the full backing of Europe’s most prominent progressives! Theirs is a fight on two fronts: minorities must be protected from discrimination (for example by encouraging the teaching of regional languages and cultures and adapting the school calendar to religious holidays); and private individuals must be protected from intimidation by the community in which they live.

Finally, one last argument militates against Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism: on the government’s own avowal it doesn’t work. Not content to have serves as an asylum for Jihad for years on end, with the dramatic consequences known to all, the United Kingdom must admit today that its social model based on communitarianism and separatism doesn’t work. Many people scoffed at French authoritarianism when parliament voted to foribid women and young girls from wearing headscarves in school and in government offices (news story). Timothy Garton Ash for his part, who starts his review in Seine Saint-Denis, demonstrates a Francophobia worthy of Washington’s Neocons.

Yet now political leaders in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany, shocked by the spread of hijab and burqa, are considering passing laws against them (12). The facts speak against the appeasers, who enjoin Europe to fit in with Islam rather than vice versa. For the more we give in to the radicalism of the bearded, the more they will harden their tone. Appeasement politics only increase their appetite. The hope that benevolence alone will disarm the brutes remains for the moment unfounded. We in France also have our Jihad collaborators, on the extreme left as on the right: at the time of the Muhammad cartoon affair last year, deputies of the UMP proposed to institute blasphemy laws that would have taken us back to the Ancien Regime.

But modern France was forged in the struggle against the hegemony of the Catholic Church. And two centuries after the Revolution it will not support the yoke of a new fanaticism. That is why attempts by revanchist Islamic tendencies such as the Saudi Wahabites, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists or Al Qaida to gain ground on European territory and reconquer Andalousia resembles a colonial enterprise that must be opposed (13). How did Europe and France become secular societies? Through an unrelenting struggle against the Church, and its hold on the right to regiment people’s minds, punish recalcitrants, block reforms and maintain the people – primarily the poorest – in the stranglehold of resignation and fear. The fight was extraordinarily violent on both sides, but it brought about incontestable progress and eventually led to the law of the separation of Church and state being passed in 1905.

The superiority of the French model (copied by the Turkey of Mustafa Kemal) is a result of the victory over obscurantism and events like the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. How could we tolerate in Islam that which we no longer tolerate in Catholicism? Secularism, which incidentally is written into the Gospels, is based on a few simple principles: freedom of religious affiliation, peaceful coexistence, neutrality of the public space, respect of the social contract, and the common acceptance that religious laws are not above civil ones but reside in the hearts of believers. France, said the philosopher Hannah Arendt, treated its colonies both as brothers and subjects. Happily, the time of colonies is over. But the republican egalitarian ideal postulates that all human beings have the same rights, independently of their race, sex and confession. This ideal is far from being realised. It is even in crisis, as the riots of November 2005 proved. Nevertheless it seems to be a better guiding light than the questionable worship of diversity. Against the right to difference, it is necessary to ceaselessly reaffirm the right to resemblance. What unites us is stronger than what divides us.

The positions of Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash fall in with American and British policies (even if the two disapprove of these policies): the failure of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in their wars against terror also result from their focussing on military issues to the detriment of intellectual debate. The diehard sanctimoniousness of these two leaders, their blend of strategic bravado and starry-eyed naivete, prevented them from striking where it was necessary: on the terrain of dogma, on the reinterpretation of holy scriptures and religious texts (14). Yesterday the Cold War was caught up in a global combat against communism, where the confrontation of ideas, the cultural struggle in cinema, music and literature played a key role. Today we observe with consternation as the British government and its circle of Muslim « advisers » flirts with the credo: better fundamentalism than terrorism – unable to see that the two go hand in hand, and that given a chance, fundamentalism will forever prevent the Muslims of Europe from engaging in reform.

Yet fostering an enlightened European Islam is capital: Europe may become a model, a shining example for reform which will hopefully take place along the lines of Vatican II, opening the way to self-criticism and soul-searching. However we must be sure not to speak to the wrong audience, styling the fundamentalists as friends of tolerance, while in fact they practise dissimulation and use the left or the intelligentsia to make their moves for them, sparing themselves the challenge of secularism (15).

It is time to extend our solidarity to all the rebels of the Islamic world, non-believers, atheist libertines, dissenters, sentinels of liberty, as we supported Eastern European dissidents in former times. Europe should encourage these diverse voices and give them financial, moral and political support. Today there is no cause more sacred, more serious, or more pressing for the harmony of future generations. Yet our continent kneels before God’s madmen, muzzling and libelling free thinkers with suicidal heedlessness. Blessed are the sceptics and non-believers if they can calm the murderous ardour of faith!

It is astonishing that 62 years after the fall of the Third Reich and 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an important segment Europe’s intelligentsia is engaged in slandering the friends of democracy. They maintain it is best to cede and retreat, and pay mere lip-service to the ideals of the Enlightenment. Yet we are a long way off the dramatic circumstances of the 1930s, when the best minds threw themselves into the arms of Berlin or Moscow in the name of race, class or the Revolution. Today the threat is more diffuse and fragmented. There is nothing that resembles the formidable peril of the Third Reich. Even the government of Mullahs in Tehran is a paper tiger that could be brought to its knees with a minimum dose of rigour. Nevertheless the preachers of panic abound. Kant defined the Enlightenment with the motto: Sapere aude – dare to know. A culture of courage is perhaps what is most lacking among today’s directors of conscience. They are the symptoms of a fatigued, self-doubting Europe, one that is only too ready to acquiesce at the slightest alarm. Yet their good-willed rhetorical molasses covers a different tune: that of capitulation!

————————————————————–

(1) Ian Buruma: « Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance », New York (Penguin Press) 2006

(2) « Islam in Europe » in: New York Review of Books, October 5, 2006

(3) Buruma too speaks of « Enlightenment fundamentalists », p. 27.

(4) Ayaan Hirsi Ali: « Infidel », Free Press, 2007

(5) Buruma, op. cit., p. 179.

(6) According to Ian Buruma, the well-known Dutch author Geert Mak compares Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s film « Submission » with the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film « Jud Süß » (« Murder in Amsterdam », page 240).

(7) In France, 30,000 women of African origin have been subject to genital cutting, and another 30,000 women risk cutting in the future. France has long been the only country to prosecute genital cutting, and the law 4/04/06 has reinforced these measures.

(8) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, « Infidel ».

(9) Timothy Garton Ash, in « Islam in Europe. » For Garton Ash, Ayaan Hirsi Ali « is irresistible copy for journalists, being a tall, strikingly beautiful, exotic, brave, outspoken woman with a remarkable life story, now living under permanent threat of being slaughtered like van Gogh. (…) It’s no disrespect to Ms. Ali to suggest that if she had been short, squat, and squinting, her story and views might not be so closely attended to. »

(10) Jutta Limbach: « Making multiculturalism work », in: signandsight.com

(11) Ramadan reiterated this position during a debate with Nicolas Sarkozy on November 20, 2003 on French television. His brother, Hani Ramadan, also a Swiss citizen, defends stoning as punishment.

(12) According to various surveys, 87 percent of British Muslims feel primarily Muslim; in France it is 46 percent. So the majority of Muslims stand behind the republican ideal, puting their religious principles behind their loyalty to the French nation.

(13) Remember the communiques of Al Qaida on September 18, 2001: « We shall break the cross. Your only choice is Islam or the sword! » And in September 2006 after the declarations of Benedict XVI in his Ratisbonne speech on violence and religion, demonstrators in Jerusalem and Naplouse bore signs saying « The conquest of Rome is the solution. » And Chiek Youssef Al-Quaradhawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and mentor of Tariq Ramadan, said in one of his most famous sermons that he was certain that « Islam would return to Europe as a victorious conqueror, after having been twice expelled. I maintain that this time the conquest will not come of the sword, but of preaching and ideology. » Al Quaradhawi also condones suicide attacks.

(14) In 2004, Tony Blair printed up two Christmas cards, one of which was addressed to non-Christians and made no reference to the birth of Christ. What paternalism lurks behind this debauchery of good intent!

(15) On Tariq Ramadan’s duplicity and deep-seated anti-Semitism: he believes the machinations of the deeply reactionary « Zionist Lobby » are responsible for the bad reputation of his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The very well-researched and convincingly argumented book « Frere Tariq » by Caroline Fourest (Paris, Grasset, 2004) is highly recommendable in this context. After it was published, the author was physically threatened on the webside of the friends of Ramadan, Ouma.com. Subjected to a witch hunt, she had to be protected by the police for some time.

*

The article originally appeared in German in the online magazine Perlentaucher on January 24, 2007
Pascal Bruckner, born in 1948, counts among the best-known French « nouveaux philosophes ». He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne under Roland Barthes. His works include The Temptation of Innocence – Living in the Age of Entitlement (Algora Publishing, 2000), The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt (The Free Press, 1986) The Divine Child: A Novel of Prenatal Rebellion (Little Brown & Co, 1994) Evil Angels (Grove Press, 1987)

Translation: jab.

MISE A JOUR:

En Iran, c’est pas seulement des plages mais maintenant une ile entière qui sera réservée exclusivement aux femmes !

L’île aux Iraniennes
Libération
Le 23 février 2007

Une île dans le nord de l’Iran sera réservée exclusivement aux femmes. Les autorités ont indiqué qu’il n’y aura aucun homme sur Arezou, l’une des 102 îles du lac d’Oroumiyeh, proche de la frontière turque.

Les transports publics, les hôtels et restaurants n’emploieront que du personnel féminin. Selon un responsable municipal, cette décision permettra de «doper le tourisme dans la région».

Un représentant régional de l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei, le plus haut représentant religieux iranien, a donné son feu vert au projet en estimant qu’il «n’est pas contraire à la charia [loi islamique, ndlr] ».

En Iran, certaines plages au nord et au sud du pays sont déjà réservées uniquement aux femmes, et quelques parcs sont destinés aux Iraniennes dans les grandes villes.

8 commentaires pour Multiculturalisme: Pourquoi les plages réservées ou les hôpitaux musulmans ne sont pas acceptables (Necla Kelek)

  1. Yano dit :

    Les femmes préfèrent un gynécologue femme que homme. et c’est non culturellement ou confessionnellement dépendant.
    De même, en psychiatrie, il est important de pouvoir discuter avec une personne qui ne soit pas du sexe opposé.
    De plus , j’ai oui dire que la non mixité était également une valeur chez certains juifs.
    Il n’est pas question d’imposer qui que ce soit , ni politique de santé ni loi islamique.
    Il est seulement question de liberté de choix du médecin. C’est un droit du malade.
    C’est un débat d’idées, sans plus.
    http://lemondeenquestions.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/dieu-serait-il-islamophobe/

    J'aime

  2. jcdurbant dit :

    Tout à fait d’accord avec vous pour le choix d’un médecin traitant ou d’un spécialiste en médecine de ville (moi aussi, si j’étais une femme, je préférerais également avoir une femme gynéco, même si je crois avoir aussi entendu que, sexisme oblige, certaines femmes semblent faire plus confiance à un homme).

    Mais là il s’agit, il me semble, de cas différents, à l’hôpital où on n’a pas systématiquement à faire à des cas de gynécologie et surtout où notamment aux urgences, on n’a pas toujours sous la main le médecin qu’on souhaiterait …

    J'aime

  3. Yano dit :

    En cas d’urgence, c’est l’état d’urgence qui prévaut . C’est certain .Et je ne pense pas que cela pose des problèmes à quiconque.
    Quand la santé est jeu,la vie en danger, l’instant de survie est en alerte….
    Bonne journée.

    J'aime

  4. […] si, et les islamistes ne s’y sont pas trompés avec le retour en force qu’ils tentent d’imposer du recouvrement […]

    J'aime

  5. jcdurbant dit :

    SOME RELIGIONS ARE JUST MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS (For Muslims only: Britain to go down the slippery slope of Ramadan exam ban)

    If we acknowledge that fasting affects performance, should Muslim surgeons not operate during Ramadan? What about Muslim bus drivers? Where does health and safety come in? It’s a minefield.

    The Sun

    http://www.sudinfo.be/1460243/article/2016-01-07/adaptation-du-calendrier-scolaire-en-fonction-du-ramadan-l-executif-des-musulman

    J'aime

  6. jcdurbant dit :

    L’affaire remonte à avril dernier, lorsque deux syriens âgés de 14 et 16 ans avaient refusé de serrer la main de leur enseignante sous prétexte que ce contact physique entrait en contradiction avec leur pratique de l’islam.

    «L’intérêt public concernant l’égalité entre femme et homme aussi bien que l’intégration de personnes étrangères l’emportent largement sur la liberté de croyance des élèves», indique dans un communiqué la Direction cantonale de l’instruction publique qui a mené une analyse juridique. En outre, poursuit-elle, en cas de dispense, «les enseignant(e)s et les autres élèves se trouvent impliqués dans une pratique religieuse qui ne leur appartient pas».

    A partir d’aujourd’hui, les parents des élèves qui refusent de serrer la main des professeurs risquent un avertissement et une amende de 5000 francs suisses (4251 euros). Des mesures soutenues et annoncées par la ministre suisse de l’Intérieur, Simonetta Sommaruga, qui avait déclaré en avril: «Sur la base des résultats de l’analyse juridique, l’école secondaire de Therwil annulera son règlement intermédiaire et mettra en oeuvre la poignée de main pour ces élèves. En cas de non respect de cette règle, des sanctions prévues par la loi seront appliquées.»

    Le père, arrivé en Suisse en 2001 en tant que demandeur d’asile en provenance de Syrie, exerce la fonction d’imam dans une mosquée controversée de Bâle. Au journal suisse Sonntagzeitung, les deux jeunes collégiens avaient réfuté les soupçons de manipulation par leur père ainsi que ceux d’une radicalisation après qu’une vidéo de propagande de l’Etat Islamique (EI) a été découverte sur le profil de l’un d’entre eux. «Personne ne nous dicte quoi que ce soit, avait-il affirmé au quotidien. (…) Sommes-nous radicalisés parce que nous obéissons aux commandements de l’islam?»
    Cette famille avait également fait une demande de naturalisation suisse qui a été traitée par l’Office des migrations, l’organe compétent en la matière qui avait alors «mené des interviews avec les membres de la famille». L’un d’entre eux, dont l’identité n’a pas été dévoilée, a reçu un avertissement «pour valorisation de la violence». Un avertissement qui pourrait avoir un impact sur la procédure de la demande de naturalisation.
    L’Office cantonal de la migration, chargé des demandes de naturalisation, avait convoqué la famille pour éclaircir notamment les conditions dans lesquelles le père a pu bénéficier d’un statut de demandeur d’asile.
    La Suisse compte environ 350.000 musulmans sur une population de quelque 8 millions d’habitants, dont 2 millions d’étrangers. La pays a déjà été confrontée à des problèmes concernant des élèves musulmans. A Genève, un adolescent avait refusé que sa professeure de gymnastique corrige sa posture lors d’un exercice et plusieurs parents refusent que leurs filles suivent des cours de natation.

    http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2016/05/25/01016-20160525ARTFIG00370-suisse-des-eleves-musulmans-devront-serrer-la-main-de-leurs-enseignantes.php

    J'aime

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