ALTER-GLOBALISATION and SECULARISM, options in the face of radical Islam, religious fundamentalism and populism- Christian DELARUE

vendredi 18 mai 2018
par  Amitié entre les peuples
popularité : 9%

options in the face of radical Islam, religious fundamentalism and populism
Christian Delarue. - February 2017

General Secretary of CADTM (France), former member of the board of the MRAP., Mermber of the ATTAC scientific committee and of the Copernic Foundation piloting committee.

This article is based on the chapter “ ALTERMONDIALISME et LAICITE, des recours face à l’islamisme radical et aux populismes (ALTER-GLOBALISATION and SECULARISM, options in the face of radical Islam and populism)” published in “URGENCE ANTIRACISTE - Pour une démocratie inclusive (Urgency against racism – For inclusive democracy)” a collectively written book coordinated by Martine Boudet, published in March 2017. Other reliable sources have been used to complete this article.


Terrorism : imperialism, complicit dictators and jihadism

Since the attacks against Manhattan’s twin towers in 2001 by Taliban elements, the world is living through the shock waves of a war between supposedly Islamic terrorism and the armed and police forces of the Arab and Western countries. The Al Qaïda Taliban defeated, in Afghanistan, by the armed forces of the USA and its western allies, is joined by Islamic State, built on the ruins of the Syrian and Iraqi states squashed by an imperialist war, waged under the fallacious pretext that Saddam Houssein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The true objective of this war was to impose the domination of US imperialism and to have control of the oil reserves.
In North and sub-Saharan Africa armed forces such as The armed Islamic Group of Algeria, Al-Qaeda in North Africa, Isis in Libya, Ansar Edine in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Chad, and Seleka in the Central African Republic, have, in the name of Islam and in the same way, spread death, destruction and terror among mainly Muslim populations, damaged cultural heritage sites and States’ institutional foundations.
Fifteen years ago, on the 7 October 2001 the USA launched its attack on Afghanistan, the beginning of George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism”, an expression echoed by many western leaders. Although new terrorist groups have come into existence in the meantime and the Western World has been the subject of murderous terrorist attacks. The results of this “war against terrorism” are largely negative. It is a strategic failure.
Jihadism of obscurantist and fascist tendencies, appears to be, in fact, a result of an invasive imperialism encouraged by complicit rulers, and the difficulties of the Arab or Muslim peoples to democratise and secularise their States in these conditions. In sub-Saharan Africa the French army, that is a vehicle for neocolonialism, has intervened in order to retain a minimum of State.
In two decades, the attacks by different Jihadist forces have killed thousands in the Western countries : In Madrid, London, Paris, Brussels and elsewhere, in the popular districts of the big Western cities hit by unemployment and racism, a minority are beleaguered by elements who work on their precariousness and fragility inciting them into the recruitment channels towards the countries in war, such as Syria. Radical Islam becomes a worrying ideological distraction for youth in the depressed quarters seeking a future. Not forgetting that the majority are held away, subject at the same time to these attacks and rising anti-islamic aggressions. 
Jihadism is therefore a widespread geopolitical phenomenon that the mainstream media regularly deals with, mostly from the security and victim point of view, giving air to mentions of barbarity against which they oppose an “enlightened civilisation”.
Europe’s far-rights jump on these problems speculating on the number of immigrants or migrants who may or may not be potential terrorists. The French Front National party hope to gain the heritage of French secularism to the advantage of ethnic-nationalist currents of opinion in which it seeks to be the avant-garde.
Muslims and Arab speaking communities are under fire everywhere. First through murderous wars in their countries of origin and then through rising racism, particularly in France by groups that fear a supposed development of ghettos, even of an interior enemy. Muslims are also oppressed by archaic and intolerant members of their own communities should they be suspected of not showing sufficient respect for these members or these obscurantist dogmas.

Anti-globalisation and anti racist strategies

Seeing the rise of anti-Islamic racism, the anti-racist movements have rightly chosen to defend the integrity of the concerned peoples and communities. Considering that the balance of power and nuisance value, although screened, of the institutions and states of the imperialist forces, be far superior. Different groups recognise their mutual centres of interest (the Ben Laden and Bush families in 2001) and the complaisance of Western powers towards countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And, considering the different sources of terrorism, deaf to international dialogue, masking and restraining the democratic goals of the peoples, it is previsible that IS will be defeated whilst the Western States, under the orders of its political and financial oligarchies, will have fundamentally reinforced their repressive apparatus for indiscriminate use against the social movements, migrants, youth in precarity and all dissent.
Under the cover of these authoritarian law and order practices the far right gains more and more state powers (ex : Trump in the USA) and organises its international coordination, as the Koblenz meeting illustrates.
In this growing New World Order, it is strategically important to have a balanced approach, the fair compromise. One priority is to support the struggles of the peoples themselves and the Arab communities, of their progressive intellectual elites, to maintain their integrity by clearly defining the limits between the Muslim Community and Jihadist terrorism. This internal debate among progressive elements would introduce a better understanding of the specificities and politico-cultural tendencies of the Muslim World : what is the extent of misogynistic legislation in the Arab-Muslim countries ? Salafism, Muslim Brotherhood etc. What is the influence of the politico-religious tendencies, apart from the jihadist-fascists ? What progressive and alter-globalist forces may be counted on to come out of the belligerent Jihadist era and return to the pacific Arab and African Spring attitudes ? These are the questions that interest an anti-racist stand-point that is adapted to the new geopolitical and, further, sociocultural situation. In France the battle must be waged against radical Islamic ideas – a nefarious idealogical death – dealing diversion, and at the same time promote traditional open-minded secularism towards the religious expression of Muslim French citizens.

Religion as an idealogical and cultural binder

If Islam is entering the ecumenical debate, it is because, along with the Arab language, it is a cultural bond that throughout history has federated peoples and communities. The popular movements of the 2010s, influenced by the western social and secular movements were of a pan-Arab nature. They were restricted within a relatively short period and destined to halt, or even to tragic failure in most countries such as Egypt, Yemen or Syria. In several of these countries (Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt...), elections that came after revolutions or protest movements were won by Islamic parties. In the light of strengthening Jidahist groups commentators slipped into associating the “Arab Spring” with an “Islamic Winter”. Just like Western populism, Islamic fundamentalism resembles an intellectual safe haven in periods of social and political adversity.
Fundamental Islam seeks to impose a hyper-patriarchal society. It hooks into popular misogynistic and feudal traditions and jurisdictions, inspired by a retrograded interpretation of the Koran. Particularly maintaining, with a few exceptions, an inferior status for women who are subjected to polygamy, repudiation (of wives), sexual violence and mutilations particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and in Egypt (practices existing prior to Islam but maintained), sharia law in some countries, dress codes (voile, niqab, ankle length gowns), kept in the private and domestic sphere. Recently, in Tunisia, a reference of moderation and secularism in the Arab World, a pregnant adolescent girl was forced to marry the man who had raped her. A petition is circulating that demands the suppression of the article of the constitution that legalises this practice. This event shows a real regression. The more fundamentalism advances, the more women’s rights regress.
Islamic fundamentalism is present among modern nations since the 19th century. It is a form of religious nationalism that vindicates cultural fundamentals and religious identity to face up to western values brutally imposed through colonialism and imperialist dominations : materialism, atheism, christianity or socialism. For Bruno Etienne, “radical Islam” may be defined as “the political use of Muslim doctrines in response to ’westernisation’, seen as aggressive towards the Arab-muslim culture”. This reaction is perceived as a protest by those who do not follow this ideology.
Salafism (in Arabic : السلفية) is a religious movement of Sunni Islam preaching the return of the way of life practised by the Muslim communities at the time of the prophet Mohamed and his first disciples - it advocated a return to the traditions of the salaf, who are the first three generations of scholars after the Prophet Muhammad.
One of its branches is the al-salafiyya al-jihadiyya, or “Revolutionary Salafism” that calls for armed action in order to impose the pure Islam of its origins. Here is where we find the groups such as Al-Qaeda (based in Afghanistan), Islamic state (in syria) or Al Nosra front that is active in Iraq and Syria in the wake of Al-Qaeda. In Africa, the Jhiadist movements are Front Islamique de Salut (FIS) in Algeria, dissolved in 1992, Ansar Eddine in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria.
The Wahhabism a synonym or movement of Salafism. It is the official form of 21st century Sunni Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, although the term is not considered valid by those concerned : according to Wahhabit dogmas there is only one possible interpretation of the religious texts, so Islamic pluralism cannot exist. Islamic nationalist movements such as the the Islamic Brotherhood of Egyptian origin are sometimes called “neosalafists”, but more usually ; simply “Islamists”. 
Currently, Wahhabism and Salafism are considered to be synonymous terms that label movements of different origins that have merged since in the 1960s.

Secularism – the option of a republic

If in France today we are examining secularism, it’s because we observe a regression, the return of primitive social concepts that tend to exclude women from public awareness (in France, women in some areas dare not dress as they wish or go into cafés) thus creating a conflict between between this religious vision and the laws of the Republic. The degree of regression of young Arab-Muslim women in France has not yet been measured (they no longer speak of careers, equality or ambitions) while the desire for liberty of others is more and more threatened. This menace weighs not only on the women but upon the whole of society. Not give a woman a hand, prohibit access to certain public places (pubs and cinemas) is condescending towards femininity and reinforces archaic concepts which have reigned for fourteen centuries over an Arab and Muslim world that has been unable to develop a modern secular concept of society. It’s this archaic concept that feeds fundamentalism today.

The struggle of the progressive Muslims

Islam, like all religions is criticised from the exterior and in different ways. The caricatures of the prophet published in Denmark and reprinted by Charly Hebdo sparked off an explosion. Without seeking to provoke - it is good form to preserve the liberty of expression won through the struggles of generations of citizens and in so far as an internal critic of Islam, by Muslims, against the excesses of their own religion be possible. The goals would be double : contribute to reforming Islam as Christianity was reformed, as an example and to secularise Muslim communities and societies. 

Let us distinguish between the academics and the grass roots Islamists.
1) In the first category, Abdenour Bidar is one of the new generation of progressive academic Muslims (Un Islam pour notre temps (an Islam for our times), 2004 ; L’islam sans soumission (Islam without submission), 2008 ; Lettre ouverte au monde musulman (an open letter to the Muslim World), 2015 ). He presents reforms of Islam as necessary conditions for eradicating Jihadist obscurantism as the development of western societies, under the yoke of neoliberalism, towards accepting the values of fraternity inherent in the Muslim and immigrant populations (Plaidoyer pour la fraternité (Pleading for fraternity), 2015 ; Les Tisserands. Réparer ensemble le tissu déchiré du monde (Weavers, repair together the torn fabric of the World) 2016).
Other scholars and writers are: : 
 Rachid Benzine : “Les nouveaux penseurs de l’islam (Islams new thinkers)” in which he discusses the ideas of co-scholars from the Arab-Islamic World : Abdul Karim Soroush ; Mohammed Arkoun ; Fazlur Rahman ; Amin al-Khûli ; Muhammad Khalafallah ; Nasr Hamid Abû Zayd ; Abdelmajid Charfi ; Farid Esack.
-  Abdou Filali-Ansary “Réformer l’islam ? (reform Islam ?)”. Here also a number of scholars seeking to reform Islam are introduced. Among them are Western as well as Arabic origin names : Ali Abderraziq ; Burhan Ghalioun ; Mohammed Abed Jabri ; Aziz Al-Azmeh ; Mohamed Talbi ; Mohammed Chahrour ; Mohamed Charfi ;
-  The Egyptian Ahmed Subhy Mansour and his work on the history and critic of the texts (notably, the Hadith).
2) In the second category, some former Islamic activists may be mentioned :
- Sarwat Al-Kharabawi : “Le secret du temple (The secret in the Temple)” and “Le cœur des Frères : Les tribunaux d’inquisition de la confrérie (The Hearts of the Brothers, The Inquisitional Justice)” ; is a former ranked official of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. - Farid Abdelkrim : “Pourquoi j’ai cessé d’être islamiste (Why I stopped being an Islamist)” ; Former French member of the Brotherhood. 
- Finally, the book by Mohamed Louizi : “Pourquoi j’ai quitté les Frères musulmans (why I left the Muslim Brotherhood)”.

his article originally appeared in French in :

Altermondialisme et antiracisme vs islamisme radical et intégrismes religieux.