Death of Malek Chebel, defender of an ‘Enlightened Islam’

Champion of an ‘Enlightened’ Islam, the Algerian anthropologist and psychoanalyst Malek Chebel died in Paris on November 12 from cancer at the age of 63.

Born in Skikda, Algeria in 1953, Malek Chebel enrolled at the university of Ain El Bey in 1973. After, he went to France with a grant from the French consulate and received a degree in clinical psychopathology and clinical psychology from Paris 7.

In 1982 Chebel obtained a doctorate in anthropology, ethnology and science of religions at Jussieu. In 1984 he earned a doctorate in political science and later worked at the Sorbonne.

Chebel, who established the Foundation for an Enlightened Islam in France in 2004, published some 20 books on Islam, in which he addressed many sensitive subjects, such as eroticism. He condemned the strict fundamentalist approach to relations between men and women. He has also tackled such taboos as wine and homosexuality in Islam. His publications include a Love Dictionary of Islam (Plon, 2004) and an Encyclopedia of Love in Islam (Payot, 1995). His other main focus is reform of Islam, to which he has dedicated two major books: Islam and Reason: The Struggle of Ideas (Perrin, 2005), and Manifesto for an Enlightened Islam: 27 Propositions for Reforming Islam (Hachette, 2004).

 

 

France has closed twenty mosques since December

French authorities shut down 20 mosques and prayer halls they found to be preaching radical Islamic ideology since December, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday.

“Fight against the #radicalization: since December 2015, twenty Muslim places of worship have been closed,” the Interior Ministry tweeted.

Of the country’s 2,500 mosques and prayer halls, approximately 120 of them have been suspected by French authorities of preaching radical Salafism, a fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam.

“There is no place … in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques, and who don’t respect certain republican principles, notably equality between men and women,” Cazeneuve said, adding, “That is why I took the decision a few months ago to close mosques through the state of emergency, legal measures or administrative measures. About 20 mosques have been closed, and there will be others.”

The announcement came days after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for a temporary ban on foreign funding of French mosques.

Cazeneuve also announced Monday that French authorities would be working with the French Council of the Muslim Faith to launch a foundation to help finance mosques within France.

“By October, a foundation will be created to finance the cultural aspect of cultural institutions and scholarships for secular education #islam,” he tweeted.

 

Responses: Fundamentalism among Muslims

Sociologist Ruud Koopmans conducted a research on Muslims and concluded that 44% of the Muslims can be labelled as fundamentalist. Although most of them have a peaceful mindset, their ideas could be a breeding ground for terror, such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks. A lot of readers reacted with enthusiasm to the article about Koopmans research. They felt ‘supported’ in their already existing ideas. There is however also some critique on the article and the research. Some of them referred to a different view on the same research, where Koopman argues that Islam nót the problem. Researcher Martijn de Koning criticized the research in itself, arguing that Koopman uses a certain (wide) definition of ‘fundamentalism’.

Responses: fundamentalism among Muslims

Sociologist Ruud Koopmans conducted a research on Muslims and concluded that 44% of the Muslims can be labelled as fundamentalist. Although most of them have a peaceful mindset, their ideas could be a breeding ground for terror, such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks. A lot of readers reacted with enthusiasm to the article about Koopmans research. They felt ‘supported’ in their already existing ideas. There is however also some critique on the article and the research. Some of them referred to a different view on the same research, where Koopman argues that Islam nót the problem. Researcher Martijn de Koning criticized the research in itself, arguing that Koopman uses a certain (wide) definition of ‘fundamentalism’.

The government’s denial of the current stigmatization of French Muslims

French politicians react to a string of attacks by Muslims over the Christmas holiday. (Photo: AFP)
French politicians react to a string of attacks by Muslims over the Christmas holiday. (Photo: AFP)

Press release from Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochère, advisor of Marine Le Pen.
“To refuse to denounce the Islamist fundamentalism in the light of current acts of individual terrorism is to deny what is real. Such silence will not lead to measures that would isolate and repress the extremists. With government inaction in the face of these crimes, widespread censure should not fall on all of our Muslim citizens. Yet, those who wish to practice their faith while respecting the laws of the Republic are in the large majority. The official soothing discourse does not reflect recent events and leads to misconceptions.

That certain perpetrators of these crimes are psychologically disturbed, that some are recent converts has little relevance: their inspiration always comes from dangerous jihadist ideology. To be certain, they are not part of a plot organized in Mosul or in Kabul. But they follow the Islamic State’s and other extremist groups’ radical ideology. These are no longer myths of self-radicalization or of radicalization in prisons, they find places in France where their criminal intentions are not discouraged. Sometimes they are even encouraged. It is the government’s responsibility to employ all its resources and to eventually come up with new measures to eradicate these fundamentalist groups.

With Marine Le Pen, the Marine Blue Gathering requires that every person who is a leader in the Muslim community publicly and firmly condemn all violence and all calls to violence committed in the name of the religion. In mosques, the sermons must be in French. The associations much be monitored with vigilance, and any serious suspicion must bring about their dissolution. Funding must be strictly controlled. In addition, encouragement and most of all participation in jihad must be severely punished, and those with dual citizenship must automatically lose their French citizenship. More than ever, immigration must be stopped. France must regain control of its borders and leave the Schengen Area.”

Statement by Gilles Lebreton, Political Advisor to Marine Le Pen

“Two young Frenchmen appear to have participated in the bloody executions on November 16 by the Islamic State. They are Michael Dos Santos and Maxime Hauchard.

This confirms the reality of the danger that Muslim fundamentalism represents in the world, but particularly in France. Every young Frenchman, no matter their culture or religion, is susceptible to being indoctrinated and to becoming a killer in the name of an extremist interpretation of Islam.

It is urgent to take strong measures to counter this threat, including:

-separation in prisons of fundamentalists from other prisoners, to prevent them from proselytizing;

-prohibiting fundamentalist preaching in mosques and more generally throughout the entirety of French territory;

-pronouncing the dissolution of fundamentalist movements, including the UOIF;

-firmly condemning the fundamentalists who have committed grave acts of violence;

-reaffirming our values of secularism and reviving our traditional policy of assimilation;

-and fighting fundamentalism everywhere in the world where it tries to plant the roots of terrorism, such as in Mali or Iraq.”

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the dangerous anti-Islamic logic of the war on terror

April 20, 2014

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali lost an honorary degree from Brandeis for articulating the same twisted thinking as Dick Cheney

It’s been over a week since students at Brandeis compelled their university to refuse Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree, and the blogosphere is still roiling with grievance. Kirsten Powers laments Islam’s preferential treatment in USA Today. Mark Steyn notes the incident, as part of a eulogy to free speech in this weekend’s Spectator. Bill KristolJohn PodhoretzAndrew Sullivan and Ross Douthat have all registered their disgust at this assault on a free and open discourse. Zev Chaffets at Fox News.com describes the incident as an “honor killing.”

The Change.org petition that cost Ali her honorary degree acknowledges the legitimacy of her grievances with Islam, but condemns the “hate speech” through which she expresses them. The petition quotes her as saying:

Violence is inherent in Islam – it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder … the battle against terrorism will ultimately be lost unless we realize that it’s not just with extremist elements within Islam, but the ideology of Islam itself …

Ali told Reason magazine in 2007, “There are Muslims who are passive, who don’t all follow the rules of Islam, but there’s really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There’s nothing moderate about it.”

Curiously, not one of the pieces protesting Brandeis’ decision actually quotes Ali’s past rhetoric. Instead, they refer obliquely to her “stinging attacks on non-Western religions,” “provocative ideas” or, most opaquely, her “life and thought.” The simplest explanation for this chronic omission is that to actually engage with Ali’s rhetoric would be to expose the absurdity of the Judeo-Christian persecution complex that informs so much of the genre.

The backlash the students of Brandeis have incurred for asserting that Islamaphobia is in fact bigotry, reflects precisely what makes Ali’s rhetoric so dangerous. Far from being a fringe position in our discourse, the idea that Islam is a uniquely malevolent ideology is the necessary fiction behind the war on terror.

To be clear: Fundamentalist religion is a scourge. And without question, fundamentalist Islam enjoys more political salience in many countries across the Middle East, than fundamentalist Christianity does in American politics (though the influence of the latter is considerable). What is fictitious in Ali’s rhetoric, and in the logic of our public policy, is the notion that Islam is uniquely susceptible to violent interpretation, and therefore all Muslims are inherently suspect.

Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/2014/04/20/ayaan_hirsi_ali_and_the_dangerous_anti_islamic_logic_of_the_war_on_terror/

Fundamentalism and out-group hostility: Muslim immigrants and Christian natives in Western Europe

December 2013

 

In the heated controversies over immigration and Islam in the early 21st century, Muslims have widely become associated in media debates and the popular imagery with religious fundamentalism. Against this, others have argued that religiously fundamentalist ideas are found among only a small minority of Muslims living in the West, and that religious fundamentalism can equally be found among adherents of other religions, including Christianity. However, claims on both sides of this debate lack a sound empirical base because very little is known about the extent of religious fundamentalism among Muslim immigrants, and virtually no evidence is available that allows a comparison with native Christians.

 

View full report here: Fundamentalism and out-group hostility – Muslim immigrants and Christian natives in Western Europe

Author: Ruud Koopmans

Published in: WZB Mitteilungen

‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism’ by Karima Bennoune

Whenever a terrorist attack happens in the West, one of the standard responses in some media circles is to denounce Muslims for not doing enough to speak out against extremism. In “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here,” University of California at Davis law professor and human rights activist Karima Bennoune shows that in fact, thousands of Muslims fight extremist violence every day.

Those who look under every rock for evidence of creeping sharia in the United States might be surprised to learn that most fundamentalist violence disproportionately affects people in Muslim-majority societies. Bennoune leverages surprising statistics, such as a 2009 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point that found that only 15 percent of al-Qaeda casualties between 2004 and 2008 were Westerners. And between 2006 and 2008, 98 percent of al-Qaeda’s victims were Muslim.

Bennoune offers a compelling, meticulously researched account of the legions of Muslims whose struggles against fundamentalist violence are almost never reported in our media. She cites her father, Mahfoud Bennoune, as her inspiration for writing this book. An outspoken Algerian social science professor and critic of extremists, he was placed on a death list during that country’s civil war in the 1990s, a conflict in which more than 150,000 people were killed. “My father’s country,” she writes, “showed me . . . that the struggle waged in Muslim majority societies against extremism is one of the most important — and overlooked — human rights struggles in the world.”

Bennoune feels that academics are overly sympathetic to the notion that “Islamists represent ordinary people, and their opponents are simply elite.” Throughout the book, she describes numerous occasions when Western liberals have championed Islamists as the democratic choice of the masses, even when there has been documented evidence of the same Islamist groups violating human rights or ignoring democratic principles once elected.

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ movie review

There’s a double meaning to the title of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” filmmaker Mira Nair’s great, gripping and complex drama based on the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid about the roots of extremism.

On a superficial level, “fundamentalist” refers to religious identity, one unfortunately most often associated with Islamic terrorism these days. And the story — about an ambitious, Pakistani-born Wall Street financial analyst who becomes disenchanted with the United States after 9/11 — certainly suggests that most obvious reading. In that interpretation, the reluctant fundamentalist is an assimilated Muslim forced into anti-American radicalism by America itself.

But the hero Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), whom we meet at the outset as an older and wiser professor of revolutionary studies at Lahore University, isn’t quite what he appears. The other meaning of “fundamentalist” refers to Changez’s prior life in the states, where, as a young man, he was paid big bucks to fix broken companies, coolly evaluating — and, if necessary, streamlining — a business’s “fundamentals.” That means he was often in the position of having to fire people, a job that might inspire reluctance in anyone with a heart. (The name Changez Khan is a variant of Genghis Khan.)