Saturday 7 March 2009

Robert Redeker, refugee in his own country

""I am a sort of political refugee within my country." He has given up teaching, moved away from his home region and must be protected by two bodyguards when he goes to any city. His life has become a crippling exercise of perpetual precautions, but Redeker is not a cause célèbre in France."

Extracts from an article by Nidra Poller in TJP

"Last October, the French author and philosophy teacher Robert Redeker, accompanied by two bodyguards, went to the office of his publisher in the charming fifth arrondissement of Paris. Redeker has been in hiding for more than two years, ever since he addressed the question of Islamic intimidation in a newspaper article in Le Figaro, which led to a string of death threats. He is France's Salman Rushdie, but his case has already been largely forgotten by his compatriots.

When the staff left for lunch, Redeker encouraged his bodyguards to take a break too. He felt safe. In an interview with Standpoint he explained what happened next: "At 1:30 p.m., a young man of North African origin came to deliver a package. 'Monsieur Redeker,' he said, 'I know who you are...' adding, 'I won't kill you but someone else will.' He lashed out at me for 10, maybe 15 minutes. The genocide of the Muslims, Arabs are Semites, Hitler was Christian... 'You make a distinction between moderate, fanatical and Islamist Muslims. You're wrong. A person is Muslim or not Muslim, period.' Over and over, he accused me of insulting all Muslims by criticizing Muhammad. 'Muhammad is more than a father for Muslims,' he said. 'What you did is serious!' He stormed out in a rage. I called my two RG [Renseignements Généraux, the domestic intelligence service] protectors, who rushed over. They whisked me away to the airport."


In its exquisite concern for "visible minorities," the agency [EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights] ignores the fate of an invisible minority - intellectuals reduced to silence because they dared to criticize Islam. The freedom to say what one thinks about any religion - its clerics, practices, precepts and sartorial rules - is as much a part of the European heritage as giving voice to the oppressed. At the dawn of the 21st century, in a once enlightened Europe, Theo van Gogh was savagely murdered. Authors and politicians need police protection, have been forced into hiding, reduced to silence and deprived of their fundamental rights. For Robert Redeker, a former philosophy teacher at a lycée in Toulouse, the consequences of this thought control have been devastating.

Redeker has been in hiding ever since his op-ed article "Face aux intimidations islamistes, que doit faire le monde libre?" (How should the free world confront Islamist intimidation?), appeared in Le Figaro on September 19, 2006, two days after Pope Benedict XVI's speech at Regensburg. The outrage provoked by the pope's observation on the relation between Islam and violence, wrote Redeker, was an attempt by this same Islam to stifle freedom of thought and expression, the most precious Western value, which did not exist in any Muslim country. Islam was trying to impose its rules on Europe, he added, citing, among others, prohibition of caricatures, pressure to allow girls to wear the hijab to school and accusations of Islamophobia.

For Redeker, Islam, like communism - another totalitarian belief-system - sold itself as an alternative to Western culture and played on Western sensibilities by claiming to speak for the impoverished masses. Islam, he went on, was contemptuous of "decadent" Western society with its secularized Christianity, open-hearted generosity, sexual freedom and democratic values. Redeker described the prophet as a warlord enriched by plunder, who slaughtered the Jews of Medina. As opposed to the fundamental violence of Islam, Christianity surmounted its shameful periods by returning to the fundamental evangelical values. "Jesus is a master of love, Muhammad a master of hatred," wrote Redeker. Judaism and Christianity had eliminated their archaic violence, while Islam still nurtured it.

All Muslims, he wrote, were taught from holy texts that were steeped in hatred and violence. Islam, like 20th-century communism, aspired to rule the world. Now as then, concluded Redeker, the West was "the free world," and its enemies swarmed and multiplied in its midst.
Immediately after publication of this op-ed (ironically, such articles are called "libre opinion" in French), Redeker received credible death threats from Muslims and was forced into hiding. The support of a handful of courageous minds was outweighed by criticism from academic and journalist colleagues, teachers' unions and public officials, who accused him of reckless insensitivity. Today, Redeker is still in hiding, under government protection.

Redeker explained to Standpoint his current situation: "I am a sort of political refugee within my country." He has given up teaching, moved away from his home region and must be protected by two bodyguards when he goes to any city. His life has become a crippling exercise of perpetual precautions, but Redeker is not a cause célèbre in France.

He still publishes articles on other subjects in the national media, but his case has been forgotten, except by those who want to kill him. Their interest has not subsided, their numbers constantly increase, as indicated by the incident in Paris in October. Redeker concludes from that confrontation that his photograph is still doing the rounds, and that Islamist ideas have taken hold in the minds of ordinary Muslims. (...)"

Read the whole piece here
Robert Redeker blog

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I hope Mr. Redeker comes to be remembered as something more than a man murdered for his honesty and vision.