Le Burn-Out de la Question Islamique
Ghaleb Ben Cheikh versus Yves Thréard
Modérateur: Sylvain Attal
Islam as a civilization, as well as the Islamic religious tradition, is currently in a crisis that has lasted for a long period of time. It suffices to observe the formation of religious entities such as Daesh, which terrorizes large parts of the African and Asian continents, in order to understand that the political and theological approach of Islam is to this day, totally sclerotic.
The Islamic question is both sensitive and important, it is also the center of national and international issues. It is necessary that this reality be recognized internationally without hiding behind the multiple veils that are too often used by all the actors who deal with it. This would be one way of not contributing to the general climate, which is as hysterical as it is overwrought.
The world of Islam, a recent term coined by Ferdinand de Lesseps during the inauguration of the Suez Canal, is crippled by pluralities and antagonisms. This name is incorrect, although Islam poses questions which, in addition to other major challenges, involve significant civilizational issues; to consider “The world of Islam” as a monolithic whole is inappropriate. These challenges are varied: governance, democracy, education, social pressure, support for the digital revolution. They require that new foundations of Islamic theological thought be put in place.
These new foundations would make it possible to fight against intellectual indigence, cultural escheat and civilizational degeneration on the Islamic question. The current state of this issue may seem abnormal when this question is viewed through the prism of history and reveals the Arab-Muslim world as an imperial civilization with palatial architecture that has greatly contributed to the body of universal knowledge.
The upcoming presidential elections will bring France to a pivotal moment. The comparison with its German neighbour, sometimes a source of admiration and indignation in France, can be made. Indeed, the recent general elections in Germany were proof of profound differences in the treatment of the question of Islam. Most importantly, the word Islam was never uttered during these elections in Germany, a country which nevertheless “has” assimilated more than a million Muslims of all ethnicities. In mainland France, this question arises with a certain weight, unlike its neighbours and other parts of French territory. In a country where there is a focus on the vile, the perverse, the negative, and the sickly, pushing individuals to observe French society only through the channel of the detective lens and contributing to the anxiety-provoking atmosphere in which France is today.
Despite everything, the comparison between these two countries is not entirely appropriate, particularly due to their respective pasts. The current political situation in these two countries on the subject of immigration is certainly similar, but France, unlike Germany, does not have such recent and heavy liabilities on similar issues. France is a country where Muslims have been numerous since the time of Napoleon III. In addition, it has forged a very special relationship with its colonies, having not only focused on the commercial aspect of colonization like its British neighbor, but also on the cultural aspect. Thus, nations with a predominantly Muslim people formerly under the yoke of the French colonial empire did not accept the continuity of French domination culturally in a post-colonial world. These difficulties did not prevent the immigration of Muslim populations to French territory but serve to explain the underlying tensions within France. Tensions born from the unease of a part of the population, which demonstrates its incomprehension vis-à-vis of French culture which seeks to be assimilating and integrating.
These demographic movements, accompanied by the secularization of the French nation and the evolution of its mores, have led to the change of French metropolitan society. A society that over time has become more diverse and less religious to the point of being de-Christianized. As evidenced, for example, by societal changes related to the scarcity of the traditional family, linked to the emergence and normalization of reconstituted, mixed, and single-parent families. There is therefore a multidimensional and multifactorial condensation that has led France to this situation. Starting with terrorism, which weakened a nation which was already strewn with multiple security, identity, and cultural flaws. In addition, the deficiencies at the level of the minister of worship accentuate these flaws. Flaws which therefore require a multidisciplinary approach, be it on the cultural, media, political, psychological, and theological level.
Solutions on the debate around political Islam
In order to overcome these challenges, a four-stroke solution is emerging. First, to resolve the security issue, there is a need for law enforcement and intelligence forces to act in a preventive and reactive manner as to preserve human life. Secondly, the elaboration of a counter-narrative is necessary to develop a workaround strategy and a pedagogy, in order to extract the fanatic ideas of a troubled youth. Third and fourth, the establishment of an educational and cultural response, accompanied by a response from the Republic which must seek to feed, protect, and educate its children, is essential.
These measures require a stance and a tough response from France, which being in a rule of law, must act within the framework of the law. These laws and rights, which define the Western nations, are not deprived in the face of the attraction religions claiming to be universal can have, the latter cannot however resist the appeal of secularism if it is understood and assimilated by its practitioners.
Furthermore, sharia law (Islamic law), is extremely limited in its areas of application. This becomes all the more apparent with the introduction of recent fields in matters such as international relations. Indeed, laws concerning maritime spaces and digital technology are absolutely not taken into account by this law, although it is considered by some as the political standard by which political Islam must adhere to.
During these last decades, France has failed to welcome or integrate the vast majority of immigrants who have come to settle on its territory. Moreover, it does not propose a project in which young Muslims can integrate, leaving free space for radicalism and notions that go against the values and ideals of the republic. The collapse of the French Communist Party, which for many years had invested in suburban youth, only exacerbated these problems. This combination of factors leads to a greatly disadvantaged youth, that currently finds itself in the grip of a politicized and radicalized Islam. There are solutions, especially through education, but we must ask ourselves whether the French model of secularism is being used properly and is capable of dealing with the instrumentalization of Islam and the debate revolving around it. A debate requiring semantic and intellectual rigor but finding itself easily overwhelmed by the manipulation of religious sentiment.