At the beginning of the twenty-first century, leading intellectuals are claiming 'There is a problem with Islam in France,' thus legitimising the discourse of the racist National Front. Such claims have been strengthened by the backlash since the terrorist attacks in Paris in January and November 2015, coming to represent a new 'common sense' in the political landscape, and we have seen a similar logic play out in the United States and Europe.
Edwy Plenel, former editorial director of Le Monde, essayist and founder of the investigative journalism website Mediapart tackles these claims head-on, taking the side of his compatriots of Muslim origin, culture or belief, against those who make them into scapegoats. He demonstrates how a form of 'Republican and secularist fundamentalism' has become a mask to hide a new form of virulent Islamophobia. At stake for Plenel is not just solidarity but fidelity to the memory and heritage of emancipatory struggles and he writes in defence of the Muslims, just as Zola wrote in defence of the Jews and Sartre wrote in defence of the blacks. For if we are to be for the oppressed then we must be for the Muslims.
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