Robert Redeker

Saturday, September 30, 2006
By now, you have probably heard the story of Robert Redeker, French philosophy teacher, who published an article critical of Islam and is now in hiding for his and his family's lives after numerous death threats along with internet postings of maps to his house. Once again, we see that some members of Islam will protest any slander against the eternal and uncreated truth of the Koran; they will even threaten death to those who they feel misrepresent Islam as a religion of sacrificial violence, an idolatrous cult.

Some westerners, in a hurry to avoid the finger of Islamophobia that is often pointed at them, are insisting that Redeker should have drawn some disctinction between violent Islamists and ordinary Muslims. Once again, the evident fact that there are lots of Muslims who like to live in secular western countries is used to argue that Islam cannot be criticized in general terms. But why is it that we can never escape in our debates such simple category errors? Redeker's target was clearly the Koran and Islamic insitutions, not Muslims as individual people who live and make choices in the world, much of which has nothing to do with Islam.

If the Koran is a text that promotes violence against the unbeliever, the question remains, can the west remain western and free if it allows in large numbers of Muslim immigrants, some of whom, if not the more happy and passive majority, will push for the values of Sharia law in their new lands? The likely fact that many Muslims will not got to war for Islamic institutions like Sharia is to avoid the question no one really wants to answer: for what else can institutional Islam possibly stand, today and tomorrow?

Since Redeker's article has already disappeared from Le Figaro's web site, the newspaper where it first appeared, all bloggers might consider leaving a record of his words. Canada's Judeoscope reproduces the article in French, with a misguided disclaimer that makes Redeker's attack on the Koran into an attack on all Muslims. I have found two English translations: Tiberge at Galliawatch has most of the article translated; there is also a translation by Fausta.

From Galliawatch:
Islam is trying to impose on Europe its rules: special hours at swimming pools just for women, no caricature allowed of this religion, dietary requirements in cafeterias especially for children, a fight to allow the wearing of veils in schools, accusations of Islamophobia against free thinkers...

As before with communism, the West is under ideological surveillance. Islam presents itself to the Western world, as did the now defunct communism, as an alternative to the Western world. Like communism before it, Islam conquers minds and hearts by playing upon a sensitive point. It boasts of having a legitimacy that troubles the conscience of the West: it is the voice of the poor people of the planet. Yesterday, the voices of the poor claimed to come from Moscow, today they are coming from Mecca! Today, once again, the intellectuals are the watchful eye of the Koran, as they were the watchful eye of Moscow. Today they excommunicate for Islamophobia, as yesterday for anti-communism.
[...]
The Koran is a book of unheard-of violence. In the Encyclopédia Universalis, Maxime Rodinson utters some truths that are as important as they are taboo in France. First, "Mohammed displayed in Medina unsuspected qualities as a political leader and military chief (...) He turned to private war, a common institution in Arabia (...) Mohammed soon sent small groups of his followers to attack caravans from Mecca, thus punishing his infidel compatriots and at the same time, acquiring rich spoils."

Secondly, "Mohammed, flush with victory, eliminated from Medina by having them massacred the last remaining Jewish tribe, the Qurayza, whom he accused of suspicious behavior." Finally, "after the death of Khadidja, he married Sawda, a widow and a good house-keeper, and also little Aisha who was barely ten years old. His erotic tendencies, long suppressed, were to lead him into ten concurrent marriages."

Exaltation of violence: merciless war chief, pillager, killer of Jews, polygamous, such is the Mohammed that is revealed through the Koran.
[...]
Continuing, from Fausta's translation:
True, the Catholic Church is not free from reproach. Its history is strewn with black pages, of which it has repented. The Inquisition, witch hunting, the execution of the philosophers Bruno and Vanini, the poor-minded epicureans who in the middle of the eighteenth century were tried for impiety, do not plead in its favor. But what differentiates Christianity from Islam appears: it is always possible to turn to evangelic values, the soft person of Jesus against the drifts of the Church.

None of the faults of the Church are rooted in the Gospel. Jesus is non-violent. The return to Jesus is a recourse against the excesses of the institution connected with the church. The recourse to Muhammed, on the contrary, reinforces hatred and violence. Jesus is a Master of love, Muhammed a Master of hatred.

The stoning of Satan, annually in Mecca, is not a mere superstitious phenomenon. It doesn't only show a hysterical crowd flirting with cruelty. Its rage is anthropological. Here is indeed a rite, to which each Moslem is invited to subject, registering violence like a duty crowned in the heart of belief.

This stoning, where annually some of the faithful - at times hundreds - die from being trampled on, is a ritual which breeds ancient violence.

Instead of eliminating this ancient violence, by imitating Judaism and Christianity, by neutralizing it (Judaism starts with the rejection of human sacrifice, i.e. by which it enters into civilization, Christianity transforms the sacrifice into Eucharist), Islam builds a nest for it, where it will grow from the heat. While Judaism and Christianity are religions whose rites delegitimize violence, Islam is a religion whose very own sacred texts, as banal as some of its rites may be, exalts violence and hatred.

Hatred and violence live in the book in which any Moslem is educated, the Koran. As in the times of the Cold War, violence and intimidation are the means used by an ideology with hegemonic vocation, Islam, to throw its lead cover on the world. Benedict XVI suffers from this cruel experiment. In these our times it is necessary to call the West "the free world" compared to the Moslem world, and in these times the enemies of this "free world", dedicated civil servants of the Koran, swarm in its centre.
What Redeker fails to distinguish, in my view, is the fact that Islam has learned something from the Hebrew faith - it is something of an anti-idolatrous religion that, by outlawing contests over the image of God, goes some way in protecting the peace among those within the fold. But clearly, the Koran does indeed draw a fundamental distinction - on almost every page - between believers and unbelievers. Islam, to the degree it follows the Koran, keeps whatever peace it keeps among the believers by relentlessly scapegoating the non-believers and blaming them for all troubles. It has the utopian idea that if all the world were Islamic, there would be some kind of perpetual peace among men. This, clearly, is at odds with the inherently conflictual basis of human nature that makes religion necessary in the first place; and so Islam, like Christianity and Judaism to some (now much lesser) extent, often indulges in dangerous millennial and apocalyptic imagery to avoid coming to terms with the fact that religion can never banish conflict from this world. Furthermore, Islam, in relentlessly targetting the unbeliever and never taking the blame for its worldly woes for itself, does not make it clear that it is man, not God, who wills this conflict.

And for pointing so much out, what is Redeker's fate? Well, it is a punishment entirely consistent with a utopian Muslim point of view, if not with that of a modrn westerner who can't get his head around the fact that you can face a death sentence for saying that Islam is violent. As Redeker says in a letter to Andre Glucksmann (via Tiberge):
Dear André,

Hello.

I am now in a personal situation that is catastrophic. Numerous explicit death threats have been sent to me, and I have been condemned to death by organizations that are offshoots of Al-Qaïda. L'UCLAT and the DST (2) are on the case, but...I am no longer entitled to live in my own house (the websites that have condemned me show a map with instructions on how to get to my house to kill me, there is a my photo, a photo of my workplace, phone numbers, and the statement of condemnation). But at the same time they do not provide me with a lodging, and I'm forced to ask others for help, two nights in one place, two nights somewhere else...I am under permanent police protection. I must cancel all my classes. And the authorities are forcing me to give up my home. I'm a homeless person. An insane financial situation is the result: I must pay all the expenses, including any future rent for one month or two, someplace far from here, the cost of moving twice, the legal expenses, etc...This is quite sad. I asserted my constitutional rights and I am being punished for it, on the very territory of the French Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty: foreign laws, created by criminal fanatics, are punishing me for having exercised a French constitutional right, and I am suffering, right here in France, a terrible wrong.
According to Tiberge, there is now a large mobilization of support in France for Redeker, except on the far left and in the government offices:
Let us point out also the dhimmitude of Education Minister Gilles de Robien, who, instead of defending the teacher and freedom of expression, drives the nail in deeper by saying: "A functionary must display prudence and moderation in all circumstances."

These events will reveal who is bowing before the fatwas of MRAP and Al Qaïda, and who dares defend the values of the Republic. The French people will learn a political lesson!

2 comments:

Rick Ballard said...

The truth certainly seems to have set the good professor free. Free to run and play hide and seek. Free to sleep under whatever bridge he chooses.

It's truly astonishing that so many moderate muslims have leapt to his aid. Is the count up to one yet?

I believe that Redeker erred in his obligatory reference to what some consider past obnoxious behavior on the part of the Roman church. Part of Pope Benedict's use of the Byzantine emperor's question was to highlight the fact that muslim practice has not changed over seven hundred years. Tossing in the 'yeah, but Christian practice of three hundred years ago..' is very sloppy. Of course, he's a French philosopher so a critique on logical consistency is worthless.

truepeers said...

Rick,

Redeker is a leftist so I suppose it's de rigueur for him to take a shot at the church. However this is only winning him mixed reivews from the left.