Declaration signed by 100 French Intellectuals against Islam
A declaration in support of secular government appeared in a French daily, and was signed by a hundred well-known French intellectuals.
Published: March 29, 2018, 11:36 am
The declaration L’appel des 100 intellectuels contre “le séparatisme islamiste [Appeal by 100 intellectuals against Islamic separatism] was translated into English and published at the Clarion Project and has been reposted at the New English Review after it was published in Le Figaro on 19 March.
Although the original declaration was the initiative of Stephane Breton, an associate professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales [EHESS] and a documentary film-maker, so many amendments, corrections, and additions were suggested during many collective discussions by many others who eventually signed the declaration, that one must see it as a truly collective effort— a joint initiative.
The most important idea behind the text is “Republicanism”, the fact that it is signed by Republicans, whether of the left or right. Although these intellectuals have signed a joint declaration, this does not mean that they all agree on everything, but they are all, nonetheless, totally committed to the defence of the Republic, a term with enormous resonance and significance in France. For the French, the Republic is a civic space in which divergent political opinions can coexist.
These intellectuals of all persuasions are very conscious of the history of the long, violent wars of religion that tore France apart; they do not wish to witness such terrible religious conflicts again. That is the historical reason that gives the term “secularism” [laïcité] in France a particular nuance and importance that is hard sometimes for the non-French to grasp.
The three principles of the neutrality of the state, the freedom of religious exercise, and public powers related to the church are enshrined in the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State. The Republic does not recognize, pay, or subsidize any religious sect. Accordingly, from 1 January, 1906 following the enactment of this law, all expenses related to the exercise of religion were removed from state budgets, departments and municipalities.
Many are distinguished philosophers, including Alain Finkielkraut, Luc Ferry, Renée Fregosi, Vincent Descombres, Rémi Brague, Philippe de Lara, Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Damien le Guay, and Yves-Charles Zarka.
Others are historians, essayist Pascal Bruckner, and professors. Some have served as ministers or advisors in past governments, such Bernard Kouchner, Luc Ferry, and Patrice Champion. All are dedicated to secularism, and the firm separation of state and religion, and all, of course, value free discussions of all and any ideas, wherever they may lead.
Some of the signatories have personal experience of the pernicious effects of the new laws designed to protect the tender sensibilities of Muslims, and only Muslims. For example, the award-winning historian Georges Bensoussan was acquitted in March 2017 of charges of incitement against Muslims.
Another signatory, Mohamed Louizi, is being taken to court for defamation for having implied that the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron had been a hostage to the Islamist vote. Louizi has an intimate knowledge of Islamists, since he’s former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Several others among the signees are also ex-Muslims such as Walid al-Husseini, Boualem Sansal, and Ibn Warraq. They, too, have first-hand knowledge of the ideologies of the Islamists. All value the freedom which includes the right to leave or change one’s religion, or not to have any religion. The presence of women such as Fatiha Boudjahlat and Fawzia Zouari underlines the need to defend the freedom of women to live their lives without interference from Islamic fundamentalists.
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