Boreal

Kamel Daoud

Who are you calling an Islamophobe?

As we accept more and more refugees and immigrants whose values and beliefs are often at odds with our own, which one will change the other for the better, and who is to define what the better is.

Today, to favour one over the other, even if you are Muslim, is to invite accusations of being an Islamophobe or of spreading Islamophobia.


The quisling-like collusion between Islamic traditionalists and their enablers reached absurd heights in France with both accusing a respected Arab novelist and journalist of being an Islamophobe and inciting Islamophobia. The derogative labels have respectively replaced racist and racism, Islam being a religion not a race, as the goto epithets when you want to put a stop to any discussion that hits too close to home.

Algerian novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud is a winner of the Goncourt prize for a first novel "for his Camus-inspired The Meursault Investigation". The assault on his character began after his thinking-man's assessment of the Cologne assault, Cologne - City of Illusion appeared in Le Monde.

Following is a portion of the report by Hugh Schofield, BBC News on what happened next, which I include here in the event that the link to "Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud sparks Islamophobia row" is lost (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35653496)

On the one hand Daoud deplored the far-right "illusion" which treats all immigrants as potential rapists. But by far the greater part of his anger was directed at the "naive" political left, who in his view deliberately ignore the cultural gulf separating the Arab-Muslim world from Europe.

Thus, according to Daoud, Europe welcomes immigrants with visas and material sustenance - but without addressing what really counts, which is the world of values.

What Cologne showed, says Daoud, is how sex is "the greatest misery in the world of Allah".

"So is the refugee 'savage'? No. But he is different. And giving him papers and a place in a hostel is not enough. It is not just the physical body that needs asylum. It is also the soul that needs to be persuaded to change. This Other (the immigrant) comes from a vast, appalling, painful universe - an Arab-Muslim world full of sexual misery, with its sick relationship towards woman, the human body, desire. Merely taking him in is not a cure."

These were strong words, and the reaction came fast. In an opinion piece also in Le Monde, a collective of intellectuals and academics delivered an excoriating attack on Daoud, whom they accused of "feeding the Islamophobic fantasies of a growing part of the European population."

Daoud, the authors said, had based his argument on a discredited "culturist" analysis. In other words, he made Arab-Muslim culture the determining agent in the behaviour of individuals - turning them into little more than "zombies".

"Worse, his call for immigrants to be taught western values was a form of 're-education'. The whole project is scandalous, and not only because of the same old claptrap about the West's mission to civilise and its superior values. More than just the usual colonial paternalism … (Daoud) is effectively saying that the deviant culture of this mass of Muslims is a danger for Europe."

For some, Daoud is a hero for speaking unpleasant truths about the culture of North Africa and the Middle East - doubly a hero for saying it not from exile but from his home in Oran.

But for his enemies, Daoud is a self-hating Arab who prefers French culture to Algerian, and whose attacks on religion are part-motivated by his own erstwhile flirtation with Islamism. (In the 1980s he was a young militant.)

Worse, they say his arguments play into the hands of the anti-immigrants in Europe who can now use them to nurse their own "illusions".

Daoud says he has had enough. In an open letter to Shatz (a friend whose criticisms he respects), he denounces the academics and intellectuals who earlier denounced him.

"They do not live in my flesh or in my land, and I find it illegitimate - not to say scandalous - that certain people accuse me of Islamophobia from the safety and comfort of their western cafes."

The publisher of Dans l’enfer des tournantes. ("In the hell of the gang-rapes", my translation), Gallimard Editions, 2003, came to more or less the same conclusion as Daoud more than a decade earlier, in trying to explain the gang rapes of young girls in the predominantly Muslim neighborhoods of Paris.

Josée Stoquart of Gallimard, in the introduction to the book, doesn’t place the blame for the rapes entirely on young Muslim men. She blames, while not referring to it by name, the Khalwat, a religious which does not permit even innocent flirtations and fraternisation between adolescent Muslim boys and girls in a society where young men are bombarded everyday by sexual and pornographic images and which leads to a very skewed view of what it is to have a romantic relationship.

Stoquart, in her own words it (my translation):

… [young Muslim men] are caught in a contradiction between the inflexible demands of their cultural origins (religious fundamentalism, seclusion of women, polygamy…) and a cultural environment filled with erotic images. Flirting is not allowed, nor is friendship between boys and girls thereby heightening the sexual tension. The only sexual education available to these young people is from pornographic films, they have no other representation of what constitute a romantic relationship. These young people have no barometer and no appreciation of the gravity of their actions. For them "la tournante" is just a game and the girls the objects [of that game].

The girls who are raped become in the eyes of boys and the community "des filles à cave" [basement girls, most of the rapes occur in basements] to whom you can do anything. The violence for these girls is not only physical … they also have to confront the moral violence of a loss reputation, the shame, the humiliation and the fear of reprisals should they complain [to the authorities]

Bernard Payeur, March 10. 2016