“Islamism is waging a quiet war”

“Islamism is waging a quiet war”

After starting a career as a computer scientist in aeronautics, following what circumstances did you, as a young Bordeaux girl, move on to the study of Islamism, political Islam, a controversial subject? These are two very distinct worlds…

As a child, I dreamed of being an ethnologist but I had little attendance at high school, where I considered the teaching too normative and not critical enough. At 18, my father, an engineer, directed me towards IT where I began to work. It wasn't until a few years later, when I had saved some money, that I was able to pay for my studies and go to university for a doctorate in anthropology.

I am naturally curious: as a subject of work, I had the choice between grandmothers who play bridge and the Islamic headscarf. We were in the wake of the Creil scarf affair (in October 1989, three schoolgirls refused to take off their headscarves in class and were expelled, Editor's note). I didn't understand anything about what was happening but I felt a natural curiosity and sympathy for these young girls. So I went into the field.

How do we investigate a subject as perilous as Islamism in France?

The anthropologist's approach consists of finding a place within the environment we observe, finding an anchor there, and being adopted. The Muslim women I study receive me with warmth and kindness. I only understood over time, discovering the Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, that they were actually trying to convert me. It is in these religious circles (“halaqat”) that I become familiar with the texts of their great ideologues.

At the congress of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) in 1993, at Le Bourget (Seine-Saint-Denis), I was invited to sit in the front row, the only woman among the men. Immediately, I ask myself: what use am I? I will realize later that I am a piece in their system of infiltration of academic circles.

Throughout this investigative work in Islamist movements, I also approach Islamic-Christian dialogue circles. I quickly notice an asymmetry: if, on the Catholic side, there is an envy in the face of religious fervor and the capacity to attract young people and a charitable desire for integration, among the Muslim Brotherhood, it is a kind of ruse which is unfolding, they have come to look for a vocabulary in order to address the political class. Behind the screen of “dialogue”, I perceive, like a few rare priests, a project, of course hidden.

What do the Muslim Brotherhood want?

Their movement was born in 1928 in Egypt, in reaction to the trauma of the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in Turkey, four years earlier. It's as if the heads of the Pope and the King had been cut off. A catastrophe attributed to the West and the weakening of Islam.

The purpose of the Brotherhood is to lead Muslims towards their destiny, a new global caliphate, governed by Islam finally united and which integrates all humanity in order to respond to God's design. As Marx gave Marxism, Hassan El Banna, the founder, gave “Brotherism”: an ideology that adapts to its time.

The Brothers are VIPs of political Islam who deployed in the West from the 1960s and will adapt the context to the text, as Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hassan El Banna, proposes with his words. They are driven by a vision: children must be instilled with a new history, taught in Koranic schools, which begins with the prophet and will end with the return of the caliphate.

The ideal is the advent of an Islamic society. They claim an identity: we are Muslim before being citizens of a nation. Finally, they have a plan considered, in their eyes, to be God's plan. Plans proven in documents that I cite in my book.

Are you not exaggerating the Islamist influence among French Muslims?

Here are three clues. The current return of the veil: “You will see the veils flourish again at the school of the Republic”, launched the former president of the UOIF, Amar Lasfar, from the platform of the organization in 2004. And we see today the principal of the Maurice-Ravel high school was threatened with death for having reminded a student of the obligation to remove her veil. Because there is no Islamic society without division of the sexes in space and in work.

The extension of halal, then, became a homogenized and lucrative globalized market for the Brothers, from meat to cosmetics and abayas, with its own economy.

Finally, the preference for Sharia law: according to surveys, in France, a majority of young Muslims now think that “Sharia law is more important than the law of the Republic” (57% of French Muslims aged 15 to 24, Ifop, 2020, Editor’s note).

What is in the mind of a Muslim Brother?

In the mind of a Brother, the perfect man is a Muslim who follows the directives of the Book or a Muslim who ignores himself, a Christian or a Jew who has not yet reached his destiny and therefore a Muslim in the making. We must not force Jews and Christians to convert but tolerate them within the framework of Islam by granting them the second rank status of “dhimmi”. The unbeliever must be converted.

In the mind of a Brother, the school of the Republic represents a danger, because it destructures young Muslims, distracts them from their own essence and pushes them into delinquency.

Why did you feel the need to write today this book on the rise of this Islamist propaganda which Gilles Kepel, in his preface, says isconstitutes the atmosphere in which latest generation jihadism spreads virally »?

It took me a very long time to be sure of what I was writing, although 2015 was a turning point for me. This is why I am not afraid of the threats I am subject to: I could be wrong but my demonstration is honest and fair, taking into account the knowledge I have. Today, I see that this ideology is waging an undeclared, quiet war on us, where our rights are being used and turned against us.

The Prime Minister has just raised the Vigipirate plan to emergency attack level. What do you think?

I think this is a legitimate and welcome measure of caution, but I don't have much to say about it as it is a decision by the Prime Minister who must be much better informed than me.

Some of your fellow researchers violently attack your theses… What do you respond?

You must show that you understand a work, its own logic, its premises, its objectives. So far I have only received criticism based on decontextualized extracts. No scientist has the truth, me no more than others, but I proposed a new way of reading the phenomenon with precise and reliable sources, it took me decades.

Do you think that French society is ripe to receive this disturbing book?

I think so. In any case, more than its elites and its media, with a few exceptions. Brotherhood appears legalistic and rarely violent in Europe, because in democratic, pacified and secularized societies, violence proves counterproductive.

But their indoctrination turns out to be very demanding, slippages exist. We think, for example, of the imam of Bagnols-sur-Cèze (Gard), Mahjoub Mahjoubi, expelled in three days to Tunisia (last February, for his sermons where he theorizes the submission of women and designates Jews as historical enemies of Muslims, Editor's note) or to believers who leave to join Daesh or resort to suicide bombing.

How has this book changed you?

I didn't expect to be the subject of such threats. I knew I was going against the grain but my curiosity was stronger. I appreciate the recognition of my readers who tell me how they find themselves confronted with the challenges of Islamism on a daily basis. I am sometimes pessimistic because I see clearly that time is running out to escape this influence and the danger of separatism.

But I believe in the response of the informed citizen more than the political parties. The doctor can refuse to give way to a colleague when a woman needs to be treated, the business manager is not obliged to accept hours of prayer in the company, the professor does not have to change his programs to not to displease or out of fear. University rectors must be intractable with religious or political offensives.

What we saw in mid-March at Sciences Po Paris (a Jewish student claims to have been barred from entering in the name of support for Gaza, Editor's note) would not happen if law enforcement were called to intervene. It is not being racist or extreme right to defend the values ​​essential to our democratic functioning. Islam must fit into this framework and not the other way around.

What do you believe in?

I am not answering this question. I do not identify with atheism, but speaking in public about my relationship to spirituality would contradict my approach as a scientist. I am very attached to secularism for this reason, it protects us, whatever we believe.

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