L'Islam et la Republique: Des musulmans de France contre l'integrisme
by Martine Gozlan
Paris: Belfond, 1994. 180 pp. 95 FF.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Of all the Western countries experiencing a substantial immigration of Muslims, France is the one to have geared up the most far-reaching and polemical debate about the pros and cons of the phenomenon. The intensity of this debate makes it likely, before too long, to have an impact on American views, so it's well worth noting.
Some authors (like Jean-Claude Barreau) portray Islam as a nearly unmitigated evil; others (Jeanne-Helene and Pierre-Patrick Kaltenbach, for example) portray it as a dynamic force which will reinvigorate France. Gozlan jumps into the fray with an important, if sometimes forgotten point: "moderate Muslims are everywhere." These are individuals who "adore Islam but also love France." Gozlan makes her point by analyzing an individual anti-fundamentalist religious leader, Soheib Bencheikh, and showing the constructive quality of his views; and by telling about such organizations as Bammate (which has "the crazy ambition of creating a new image for Islam" in France) 78 and the Union of Muslim Families (which forwards a "secular and moderate" Islam).
Even if they are everywhere, the moderates are weak. The author describes Bammate as "alone, terribly alone," and that's true of most anti-fundamentalists and their organizations. On the other side, fundamentalist Muslims have an impact far beyond their numbers, recalling Marxist-Leninists in days past. Though intending to show the positive face of moderate Islam in France, Gozlan unintentionally exposes its weakness.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | September 1994 MEQ
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