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‘It is time for the silence around political Islam to be lifted in Belgium’

And everywhere else. But cowardice and complicity rule the day.

“Djemila Benhabib, political scientist and writer: ‘It is time for the omerta around political Islam to be lifted in Belgium,’” New in 24, July 18, 2021:

Spokesperson for the Collective Laïcité Yallah, created in 2019 at the initiative of the Center d’Action Laïque, the political scientist and writer Djemila Benhabib, who fled Algeria and is notably the author of “My life against the Koran”, militates in favor of secularism by fighting in particular Islamist fundamentalism. She returns to the Ihsane Haouach case.

What is your reading of the Ihsane Haouach affair?

What seems important to me to take away from this affair is that the cursor is placed on an issue that has existed for a long time but which has been killed: the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, we dared to take this file out of the drawers. There is an Islamist militancy in our country which passes through foreign states and influential figures. In saying this, the idea is not to anathematize Muslims and make them potential Salafists, it is simply to recognize that political Islamism, which affects all European countries, undermines our democracy from within. There is an omerta about this question which promotes the activism of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is time for the silence around political Islam to be lifted in Belgium. This debate must be brought to Parliament.

“The war on secularism has been declared for several years. And it is in particular certain veiled women who are leading it.”

How do you explain this silence? Do politicians sin out of naivety? By opportunism?

There is a part of ignorance because it is not easy to understand the functioning and the logic of the Muslim Brotherhood. And then there is also a part of intellectual lazinessopportunism and calculation. When you are a politician, you cannot afford to ignore such activism. Ecolo’s responsibility in this matter is very important. The war on secularism has been declared for several years. And it is in particular certain veiled women who lead it.

It is clear to me that Ihsane Haouach envisioned his function through the unraveling of neutrality. This is not the first time that she has had extremely harsh words towards those who defend neutrality. In this context, neutrality is associated with a factory of discrimination and those who defend it are clearly demonized, assimilated to the extreme right.

“It is not a question, by defending neutrality, of giving a gift to the extreme right. We must not make amalgamations by considering, for example, that Muslims are culturally hostile to neutrality.”

But the far right can also use neutrality to advance its political agenda by fueling anti-Muslim sentiment …

Yes, but it is not a question, by defending neutrality, of giving a gift to the extreme right. It is quite the reverse. This question must be put back at the center of public debate because it belongs to all citizens. We must not make amalgamations by considering, for example, that Muslims are culturally hostile to neutrality. When you are progressive and have lived in a country where democracy does not exist, you know what the price of freedom is. We know the importance of the separation of politics and religion. This issue has caused a lot of blood to be shed in many Muslim countries, which is why it is necessary to show solidarity with the secular and democratic forces in these countries. How is it that we, for example, abandoned the Turkish Democrats?

“It is not normal that, under the pretext of securing women’s work and reducing unemployment, we give in on the level of neutrality.”

Generally speaking, do you see this as a failure of the left?

The software of the left was totally out of order from the 1980s with the rise of neo-liberalism and the Thatcher / Reagan couple. In the same era, much of the left lined up behind Khomeini, by turning a blind eye to the atrocities, for the simple reason that the latter had gone to war against the United States. The left saw in him someone who was able to do what it was unable to achieve: a standoff with the American giant. This is why, today, the left must find its fundamentals, recognize its mistakes and show courage.

It is not normal that, under the pretext of ensuring women’s work and reducing unemployment, we give in in terms of neutrality. It is healthy to practice openness and to stand up for diversity. But should we undo everything under the pretext of making room for people who exploit freedom and diversity to impose a political agenda? There is no relaxation to be carried out at the level of neutrality. The question of human rights is universal. The universality of human rights must not be modulated on the basis of culture and religion.

“The Europeans have certainly done a lot to make reason triumph, but when they are in politics (but not only) become very emotional, unable to hold a rigorous reasoning on the Islamic veil.”…

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