Monday February 9th 2015 – National Assembly
In the framework of its analyses of the greater geopolitical questions of the contemporary world, the Paris Academy of Geopolitics has organized this colloquium on the question of Islam and its current geopolitics.
The religions that have been the historical cradle of civilizations are showing today, as in the past, that they can intervene in the destiny of peoples. The crises known to the Middle East and somewhat all around the Moslem world and beyond, advance today on the path of religious association.
With the presence of several members of diplomatic corps, of which their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Bolivia, of Bulgaria, of Egypt, of Kosovo, of Macedonia, of Sudan, of the Oman Sultanate; the delegated Ambassador and permanent Gabonese Republic representative to UNESCO and the International Organisation for Francophonia; and alslo the diplomatic corps of Algeria, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, Denmark, Georgia, India, Irak Iran, Mongolia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czeck Republic, and the delegation of the League of Arab States, and the Palestine Mission, the colloquium has required minute analysis by numerous specialities, well-known personalities, academicians, diplomats, and specialized researchers, who have contributed their in-depth geopolitical analysis of the subject, during six hours of debates and discussion.
Were also present at the colloquium Mrs Hassen, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, Mr. Gérard Coursin, Former Advisor to President Jacques Chirac, Advisor at the Paris branch of the World Bank, Mr. F. Memmich, former Minister, Advisor to the Tunisian transition presidency, and Mr. K. Wadei, former Iranian Minister for National Education.
The Academy President first gave the floor to Mr. Member of Parliament and Mayor Jacques Myard for a welcoming speech in which the Member of Parliament reminded of the importance of maintaining a keen interest in the Southern flank and in dialogue notably with Islam, in order to better be acquainted and surpass the differences, but also and above all the capital importance of secularism in living together.
Some months ago we spoke on the Arab Spring Revolutions, under the title “When the trees start to move…”, it’s clear things are happening in the Arabo-Moslem world, but those things will not always be in the sense that we would collectively wish. It’s regrettable that France didn’t take more interest these past decades in the evolution of the Arabo-Moslem world. Certainly one can understand this attitude by the fact that she has wanted to turn the page of decolonization. But at the same time she has invested her efforts in what was the construction of Europe and has neglected, in foregn policy terms, all Pan-Africanism, -Mediterraneanism, and that of the Near and Middle East, and then abruptly she understood that things were happening. It is therefore very important that our foreign policy be reoriented towards the Southern flank.
The Arabo-Moslem world is at our gates, therefore we must of course follow its evolution, and that of all the forces of this Arabo-Moslem world which all the same is not uniform, as we all know: there is of course a very interesting world and global civilization, but there are also very strong national forces, country by country. Therefore it appears extremely interesting to follow attentively and with vigilance the evolution of this world that is two hours by plane from Paris, and moreover has demographic power that can pose a stability problem not only in South-North relations, but also South-South and that could be extremely destabilizing for a number of these countries.
Very eminent professors who know this civilization think that we have neglected learning Arabic, and I think that it’s something that we have to relearn, and I regret that we havn’t made enough effort in this sense, and I wish that we reinvest in this intellectual field, in this economic field, this field of human relations, and that we put into place a multi-bilateral policy with regards all these countries, which just means that we French must repatriate the resources dedicated to European cooperation, repatriate them on a national scale, in order to be able to act, and to attribute to ourselves the wherewithall to install multi-bilateral programs.
So it seems extremely important to put into debate this question of the geostrategy of Islam, in its diversity, in its dangers….
But I would like to terminate on a primordial point: secularism. Certain ambiguities must be noted: secularism is not the enemy of religions, but secularism is a body of rules that permits each religion to exist, to be practised but not to encroach upon the religion of others…, that’s the reason for which we feel, very evidently that there are churches, mosques, notably the Grand Mosque of Paris which was instituted by the 1921-22 law for thanking the soldiers who had returned from the 14-18 War. It is further fundamental that we have such a body of rules that permit us to live together.
There is much frustration behind the goings-on, there are many economic problems, many identity interrogation problems, but that does not diminish my wish that I deal not with French Moslems, not with Jewish Frenchmen, not with Catholic Frenchmen but with French citizens. If I insist thereupon, it’s that I think we have neglected to transmit these simple principles but these strong principles of a Republic that wants, whether you are blue, white, red or black, that we be able to live together on condition that we respect one another.
The colloquium is organized into two panels:
Moderator: Doctor Ali RASTBEEN, President of the Paris Academy of Geopolitics
The geopolitical evolution of Islam, by Ali Rastbeen
The religious order is the most ancient and the most solidly founded and upon which societies build throughout history. The religious domain is that of individual and social faith that obliges the individual to accept a certain number of duties and obligations with regards the community and existence itself. It’s the all of these obligations that is qualified as faith and which plays the role of controller in the believer’s subconscious.
Religion possesses a political attribute that can orient the destiny of one or more societies and even regions. Some religions have influenced one or more continents, going beyond ethnic and other distinctions; Christianity, Buddhism and more particularly Islam are today capable of acting in the matter of international politics.
Islam that, six centuries after Christianity was at the origin of new upheavals, has always been intimately intertwined with politics. It’s by starting with this very point of view that it has focused on the rest of the world and very rapidly won over Asia, Africa and Europe. Islam was born in a desert land, crossed by caravans relaying between the two Empires of the time: Rome and Persia. At the age of 40, Islam’s Prophet was charged with a divine mission of political character because as from the start, Islam had as goal to unite and mobilize Arab tribes. After the Prophet’s death, the Arab tribes, seeking new space, led incursions into the territories of the two neighbouring empires: Persia and Rome where tribes of Arab origin lived alongside peoples under the authority of one or the other great power of the time.
Following the Arab domination that permitted settling its tribes in Persia, other conquerors appeared. The entire Eastern territory of Islam was devastated by Turkish and Mongol troops from the North. However, these tribes finished by submitting to the potential force of Islam that thereupon extended its territories, from the frontiers of China to Eastern Europe. Permanent struggle opposed Islam and its Christian neighbours, till the 20th Century.
It is interesting, in this historical and geographical evolution, to note Islam’s effects on territories it conquered, so different from previous and later invasions.
In the pre-Islamic period, Alexander’s conquests to establish Greek civilization on conquered territories all the way to East India, left Greek colonies in their wake. However, the consequences of Islam on these Asian, European and African regions were of a completely different order. In fact, Islam crushed all in its path: languages, histories, traditions and identities. Islam absorbed all throughout the Near and Middle East, and set up domination by Arabian civilization. The territory that suffered the least from Arabian conquests and their consequences was Persia where, however, the after-effects subsist to this very day.
The Ottoman Empire is the culmination of the period of tribal and religious wars in modern history. The longevity of this empire was assured by the Islamic Caliphate, whose first caliph was Abou Bakr, the Prophet’s successor.
This succession’s contestants united around Ali and the Prophet’s close family, it was to be Islam’s very first schism. Those who chose to rally to Ali were called Shiites.
This first division didn’t prevent Ali and his Shiites from supporting the Abou-Bakr and Omar (first and second caliphs respectively) axes when it came to defending Islam against uprisings throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
After the assassination of the third Ottoman caliph, then Ali was designated fourth caliph. The wars led by Ali against Muawiya’s armies announced the second schism which in turn gave birth to Khawarej whose first act was to assassinate the fourth caliph.
Hassan, Ali’s eldest son and Commander of their troops, came face to face with Muawiyah, the founder of the Ommayad Dynasty: he preferred peace to war, leaving power to Muawiyah and considered this peace necessary to preserve Islam’s domination on the conquered territories.
Muawiyah, Abou Sofian’s son, was one of the Quraïche chieftains that had delivered Mecca to the Prophet’s forces. Islam’s territorial expansion policy demanded on the one hand that internal Quraïche quarrels not spread beyond them, and on the other was based on Ommayad “fundamentalist” ideology that since Muawiyah’s days had established its capital at Cham (today’s Syria) and whose territory extended to South-West Europe into the Iberian Peninsula.
Today, Moslem countries attempt to play an important role in world geopolitics, and in order to do so they have reorganized into an Islamic Countries’ Conference. Their objective consists in establishing a link between nationalism and religion: this difficult approach has not been conclusive in the past, because the national element and the religious element constitute two entirely separate identities, and as in the past, still today cannot substitute each other. Nationalism is resistance against foreign aggression and even influence. Religion is itself a government, a power, an identity and a will to globalize.
Today radical Islam is taking volume. The recent attack against Charlie Hebdo and against policemen and civilians is an attack committed “in the name of radical Islam”. Radical Islam is therefore no more than a murderous political ideology whose goal is to submit the world through violence and terror, whereas the word “Islam” implies “sala’am” meaning “peace”.
In fact every terrorist act against innocents contradicts Islam’s thinking and basics. So today France is at war against terrorism and not against Islam. Terrorism has neither religion nor faith nor conscience and constitutes a danger for all, that’s why France is not alone in this combat.
The values propelled by groups such as Daesh are very popular in societies torn by interdenominational and interethnic conflict, prey to misery, inactivity, social inequalities before the law, corruption, drugs and other ills. Daesh bears a particular attraction for youth. These young ones are persuaded that they are fighting for the only authentic religion – Islam! In their eyes, one must behead every dissident or rebel to their “authentic” Islam. They are absolutely convinced of their justness. Moreover, those who must be unconditionally beheaded are Christians, Yazdis, Jews and Shiites and also Sunnis who do not share the Salafist world concept.
The United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003 constitutes the birth certificate of the Islamic State (I.S.): Americans claimed to be “democratizing” Iraq, but this democratization gave birth to Daesh that in turn became exploited by Saudi-Qatari policy and its allies. Chaos, massacres, refugees and economic crisis are the sole fruits of Saudi and Qatari policy and rivalry, as is the case for their petroleum allies – such countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, whence come the Taliban, Al-Qaïda, the Arab Spring, and the Islamic State – amongst many others.
At present, the United Nations Charter remains the first credible document at the international level: drawn up over sixty years ago in the name of the peoples in the United Nations Organization, it draws its legitimacy from the world’s populations.
On the basis of this charter, an Organization has been born that must regulate not only inter-state relations but also the relations between States and their Populations, such that a new era can happen and make disappear war and destruction, in favour of globalization of dialogue and of intercultural and inter-religious exchange between all civilizations, in the spirit of common values and of loyal respect for differences.
Father Michel LELONG
Religion: source of discord or peace?
Member of the White Fathers Society, Doctor of Letters, Professor at the Institute for Science and Theology of Religions, Founder of the Islamo-Christian Friendship Group, Specialist of Islamo-Christian Dialogue
In the face of the religious awakenings of our time and in many places around the world, voices are arising to denounce the perils of these awakenings, and of the return to what was sacred.
It’s true that the manner in which religion, all religions and in all religions, are subject to interpretations by their members and adepts of holy scriptures, exploit the name of God in a way as to conclude in “necessary intolerance”, fanaticism and even violence. But the question is to know whether these inacceptable excesses come from the religions themselves, from their message, or from the way in which certain members of these religions interpret and live these references to their faith, including in the political domain.
In order to know if religion is cause for discord or source of peace, it is necessary to distinguish the two aspects of the problem. What is, firstly, the true lesson of the great religions, and then, how this lesson is lived and understood by those who refer themselves to them and claim to belong to them? The subject matter is a very vast one, so this afternoon I shall limit myself to discussing the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
When we read in the Bible those books that we Christians call the Old Testament, one is smitten by the contrast existing between certain accounts where one invokes violence, conflict, war, and the message ceaselessly reminded by the Biblical prophets: the Bible Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Joshua state ceaselessly and with vigour, that to be truly faithful to God’s message, it is insufficient to just go and pray in the temple, to claim to be one of the group, or to score victories over the enemy … to be truly faithful to God’s message, the Bible Prophets used to say that one must seek justice, be compassionate and merciful, be attentive and charitable towards those who are rejected, weak and oppressed: the widow, the orphan, the stranger…. That is the message of the Bible’s Prophets – message reminded by the great Jewish thinkers of yesterday and of today, such as André Neher, Emmanuel Lévinas…, however according to these messages from the Bible, God calls us to justice but is nevertheless ignored and I can even say “betrayed” in our time by certain extremist Jews, colonialists who behave as they do against the Palestinian people, but even for apolitical reasons, unfortunately claim they are Jewish yet betray their own ideals by the way in which they have been treating the Palestinian people since so many years ago.
And we Christians? Are we truly faithful to Christ’s message ? When one reads the Gospel (New Testament) one sees well that this message is a call to be profoundly dedicated to justice, active for peace, attentive to our human brethren whoever they may be, in particular to those who suffer, to those who are rejected, forgotten, oppressed…. But at the same time, one must indeed recognize that over the centuries, Christians, the Church – the churches have not always been faithful to Christ’s message. Having been persecuted by some Roman emperors, we note that Jesus’ disciples, reaching power in the 4th Century under Emperor Constantine, became persecutors themselves … and in the West, in Western Christianity, establishing remarkable charitable works whilst at the same time building our beautiful cathedrals, Middle Ages Christianity was intolerant and unjust towards Jews, towards Moslems. Even during our time, certain authentic groups who call themselves revivalists and who therefore invoke Jesus’ message, in fact support an imperialist policy that made thousands of innocent victims during the Middle Ages. And that was not Christ’s message.
Like Christianity and like Judaïsm, there existed and exist still today in Islam, individuals and groups who use abusively the name of God and the Koran’s message, in order to attempt to justify violence, injustice and hate. We see this in certain regions of the world, we saw it recently in France, but as was clearly and unanimously reminded by all responsible and speaking for Islam in North Africa, in the Middle East, here in France, the Moslems who claim they are of a religion or Koranic text permitting to murder innocent people and impose fanaticism – their own fanatical vision of world affairs, in reality betray God’s message as it was transmitted in the Koran by Prophet Mohamad. For in the Koran as in the Old Testament and in the Gospel, it is clearly stated that it is necessary to promote justice, be charitable, respect the faith of those of the scriptures (“ahale-ketâb”) which is to say the Jews and Christians, to be attentive to those who are weak, rejected, oppressed (“el-moustadafine” says the Koran).
And so thus, all the while knowing that there are depths or a profound doctrinal and theological difference between our Christian faith, the faith of the Jews, and the faith of Moslems … there exist common ethical, spiritual and religious values to all three great monotheistic religions. And in this regard, it is very important and fortunate that between the start of the 20th Century in France and indeed throughout the world, the religious authorities of Christianity, of Judaïsm and of Islam are meeting, are expressing increasingly one voice, and are acting together in order to promote values common to all three great monotheistic religions. So it seems to me to be desirable and necessary that whilst calling for cohabitation here in France and in mutual respect, the religious authorities of our country, the Christian, Jewish and Moslem authorities also talk as with one voice and unite their efforts for justice and peace in the Holy Land, furthermore justice must reign as a condition of peace, thus international law must ensure respect, also as concerns the safety of Jerusalem, the Holy Land and the Quds. I await that the responsibles of the three great monotheistic religions so state together, so that at last international law with regards Jerusalem is respected. This is not at present the case.
A word by way of conclusion. If dialogue between Christians, Jews and Moslems is today very important, it is equally important that there be dialogue between believers and non believers. Indeed there do exist unbelievers who are unfortunately biased and intolerant, there does exist and antireligious fundamentalism that is just as inacceptable and dangerous as the religious fundamentalisms. This week in The Express magazine there is a very good article by Jean-Paul Perrot that denounces precisely the concept of secularity which in fact is … which refuses religion, including taught at school, and which is particularly fundamentalist against Islam. Therefore, secularity, yes certainly, but secularity that is a framework for the respect of religions, not a framework that claims to be able to replace them, which is often the case, even in France, one must well recognize that. Therefore, believers and non believers, who have values in which they believe, must not only respect each other, but also work together in order to promote fundamental human values to which believers and non believers adhere … these values as are dignity of each person, justice, liberty, brotherhood … believers and non believers we are together to recognize these values, even if we do not attribute to them the same ultimate meaning. For non believing humanists, the foundation of these values is the human conscience that demands these values. For we believers, the values are a gift from God, and a calling from God, therefore we attribute to them a different ultimate meaning and a different internal sense. But we can and must unite our efforts, believers and non believers, so that here, in our country, in France, in Europe, and in the world, particularly in the Middle East and in the Holy Land, all those who believe in the dignity of each human being and in justice, unite their efforts in favour of this justice which is the very condition of peace. Many are working at it, we must become increasingly numerous in our support of those engaged on this path, whether believers or not.
President of the National Observatory for the Struggle against Islamophobia in Europe
“The Organisation of Islam in France and the religious and socio-cultural problems of the Moslems”
For some years we have been attending the progressive emergence of a public debate around the presence of integration and of the means of managing Islam in France.
This public problem exposure is intimately related to increasingly visibility of Moslem individuals and associations on the French public scene. Their positions, covered by the media and involved in legal and/or political decisions, have contributed these past two decades to rendering tangible the presence of Moslems in France. From a simple demographic category, they have progressively managed to transform themselves into a socially and politically active category.
Thus variables such as confessional cemeteries, the Islamic veil, ritual butchery for halal meat, school curricula, procedures for naming and training imams, the reserve duties for officials with regard to their religious persuasions, the compatibility of radical Islam interpretations to democratic values, etc., are increasingly the object of public and media debates transmitted throughout French territory, at national, regional and local levels. In effect, public speaking by Moslems has generated voluminous questioning concerning the implications of the claims to constitutive State values (such as secularism and democracy), and the preservation of religious balance.
To justify these political trends, debates relative to the nature of imam preaching as well as the taking of controversial public positions by certain associative leaders or Moslem intellectuals have been largely exaggerated and too strongly mediatised in order to support the idea of a fear related to potential identity mobilization and radicalization and affecting Moslems notably qualified as “moderates”.
One can state that a large and crushing majority of Moslems does not recognize itself in the exactions and positions pronounced by extremist or radical associative or religious leaders who claim to be expressing in the name of the general Moslem community or for specific Moslem groups.
Is it necessary to observe that in public debate, the Moslem denomination is sometimes employed and exploited in arbitrary manner to designate persons coming from predominantly Moslem countries. In effect, geographic provenance does not permit to specify the degree of religiosity or involvement of different individuals or groups.
The interest of this present intervention is to have better understand the inductions that underwrite the political affirmation of a homogenous image of Moslem characteristics presented as “dangerous for the French community and its national cohesion”. In other words, the fact of being Moslem would imply a group of shared and unalterable values and practices that are therefore incompatible with French republican values.
Such a homogenizing perspective just reinforces the stigmatization of all members of the Moslem community in France. Thus we find, at the heart of several political positions taken concerning Moslems, strongly anchored stereotypical representations:
– against the “freedom of the active Western woman” is opposed the “submissive home role of the Moslem woman”
– against the “democratic Western spirit” is opposed the “authoritarianism and theocratic vision of Moslems”
– against the “equality of Western citizens” is opposed the “anachronistic macho image of Moslem men”
– against “progressive Western thought” is opposed the “retrograde conservatism of Moslems”
Thus it becomes necessary for political decision-makers and journalists to bring to bear honest intellectual efforts in order to better know this population, and thereby diminish considerably misleading social and religious stigmatization of opinion. For that, it would be necessary that the silent and unsolicited Moslem majority in France express themselves, notably to answer such questions as:
What can it mean to live Islam in France, outside of strict theological framework?
How do Moslems perceive their integration and their citizenship in France?
How do Moslems live the decisions of French public authorities?
How to describe relations between Moslems and the French population?
What do Moslems think of potential compatibility between Islam and democratic values (for example: population- mixing, the status and condition of women, secular respect,…)
Till the National Observatory against Islamophobia had been put into place, there was no organism or structure recognized by the public powers charged with indexing anti-moslem acts. There was no organized national record of Islamophobic acts, or of prejudicial documents, or of anti-Moslem programs. In fact, following the terrible events this country has known in the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Kasher attacks, anti-Moslem and anti-foreigner acts were of record number: between the 7th and the 20th January 2015, that is to say the space of 12 days, the French police, gendarmerie and other security forces registered more acts of personal violence and with more material violence than throughout the entire year 2014. The web was overcharged with cyberhate against Islam, Moslems, Arabs and other foreigners.
Indeed, the National Observatory was born from the will to struggle against discrimination against human dignity and respect.
In conclusion, an examination of the situation of French citizens of Moslem persuasion living in France exposes the following:
i) the very negative image of Islam and of Moslems as portrayed in current media exposes very serious real or presumed situations
ii)the rise of a certain “Islamic radicalism” that targets in priority French citizens of Moslem persuasion is presenting Islam as intolerant, warfaring even bloodthirsty, and exclusivist, and is not representative of the social dynamics of the Moslem community in general
iii) the anchored mistrust by French citizens of Moslems at the national level is in considerable measure due to the French civilization’s lack of awareness of the differences amongst its Moslem compatriots
iv) the promotion of frankly populist speeches by certain leaders of public opinion (seeking without a doubt to surf on the fears of the population) has created more schisms and more prejudice in the collective conscience that undeniably renders even more difficult any dialogue for solution
v) these influential discriminations in our society in the sectors of education, employment, housing … become obstacles to any real social participation by one and all .
Mutations of Islam in French-speaking Sub-saharan African countries
Writer, Author, Trainer and International Expert in Human Resources. Specialist on African and Migrational Questions
Several works on different aspects of immigration in France
In 2011 he publishes his book The Islamist Crusade (sub-title: To put an end to received ideas)
This essay focuses principally on French-speaking countries, now and then compared to the situation in other African countries, and concludes that fundamentalist islam is quickly and brutally spreading throughout the continent, replacing Christianity as the dominant religion and assuming an anti-French and anti-Jewish political character.
The two main changes are the following.
Quantitatively, Muslim population growth is leading to an African continent where almost half of the inhabitants are already muslims. In 13 countries, the percentage of muslims is more than 90%. And in countries formerly Christianized, such as Ivory Coast or Nigeria, the muslims are nowadays a majority. In other countries where they are still in a minority as in Burkina-Faso, they try to command respect of their rules and ways of life.
Otherwise we can note that African islam which was in the past somewhat cool and tolerant becomes more and more radical especially in French-speaking countries. The middle class and the senior and dynamic young executives are particularly involved in that processus. We could find many explanations of that occurrence in the history of French colonialism and neocolonialism, in the lack of hope in the young present generation or in the interconnexion between Islamist groups and narcotics mafias.
But obviously that political change is an important threat for both African governments and western countries which receive lots of immigrants from Africa.
Geostrategics professor at the ENSTA (Superior national school of advanced techniques)
Superior Chaired Professor of Arab Letters at the Henri IV Lycée
Political Scientist (Specialty: Islamology)
Shiite Crescent – Sunni Crescent : Where is Islam going?
In the Near East today there is an anti-American axis of resistance that is essentially formed of forces whose persuasion is Shiite Islam.
Three men are at the heart and origin of this Shiite awakening in the world: first of all, Moussa Sadr, then Hafiz al-Asad, and finally Rouhollah Khomeini.
Moussa Sadr started in Lebanon, by forming a council for Shiites in South Lebanon, and by starting a dialogue with all communities. In the Sixties years, he had succeeded in giving confidence to this minority population that had been persecuted for centuries.
In 1967, Hafiz al-Asad, of Alaouite origin and from the great Shiite family was minister of Defence. Three years later, he took power and got himself elected. He began his work of helping the South Lebanon Shiites.
In 1978 the Khomeini Revolution broke out. Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, Hafiz al-Asad supported Iran and was influenced by the Khomeini Revolution, although he himself was a lay-person.
These three formed what was to be called the Shiite Crescent: Syria, South Lebanon Hizbollahi and the new Islamic Republic of Iran.
There was no more hiding, it was time to confess loud and strong that one had the right to be Shiite. This Shiite crescent didn’t stop developing at all levels, whereas another crescent, this one Sunni, declared war against this new Shiite force.
Unfortunately, the Sunni world, rivalling Khomeini’s effects, gave birth to extremist movements that declared guerrilla war against the Shiite awakening’s affect on the Moslem world. One of these extremist movements was the Moslem Brotherhood in Algeria. Other groups sought to overthrow the pro-West power in Egypt. To this day, this matrix of superposed conflicts is happening and being exploited.
The question now asked is the following: how to establish a veritable dialogue between the Sunni Moslem majority, and this strong Shiite majority, knowing that Khomeini’s Shiite revolution has created dynamics that already claim considerable scientific, industrial and even philosophical progress in Iran?
That is the entire question, there must evolve a philosophical, spiritual and jurisprudential entente between these two great families born from Islam, otherwise the nuclearization of the conflicts taking root can soon threaten the entire world balance.
Sociologist and Philosopher, he is University Professor at the Paris International College of Philosophy. He is also Professor at the Aix-en-Provence Institute of Political Studies, where he directs the Religion Observatory since 2006. In 2012 he published a book entitled “The myth of Islamisation”.
“The New Global Terror Market”
Can one in effect seriously support the notion that the conflict that burst out in Mali was a war between States? Certainly not. So was it a civil war? Not exactly. A little of both – civil war and international conflict – it’s what a preliminary study would permit to claim. Several States were indeed present on the war scene: first, the Mali State, also Algeria (frontier), and the Western coalition headed of course by France. But the other protagonists – who moreover were playing in the foreground – were more or less defined groups, one by vague enough ethnic labeling of Touareg nomads, and the other by the ‟evil” label of Islamist terrorists. These latter were the principal protagonists of the said war, constituting at the outset a disparate group claiming unity and world visibility by adopting the acronym AQMI: Al Qaïda of Maghreb (North Africa) Islam. What a dazzling label, surely it couldn’t bring but the fiery limelight of global access. Suddenly infamous for its spectacular September 11th 2001, and for several years of escapade by its dark cavalier leader Oussama Ben Laden, Al Qaida in effect in a few short years went from the status of simple organization to that of a renowned label, like a large supermarket: Al Qaida became the first big global terrorist franchise that even today has its brand markings: obligatory beard, turban, headscarf and tunic, and indispensable anti-West (anti-American, anti-Europe, anti-Judeochristianity) terrorism (jihad or sacred war). These markings permit it to be easily visible and taken seriously, to the point that any group displaying these markings can acquire immediate notoriety on the world scene through the internet social networks.Thus the Al Qaïda model and label guarantee world terror, and attract competition like supermarket chains. So since 2013 ISIS has entered onto the scene with an even more radical expeditivity than Al Qaida’s Islamic universalism: the targets are no longer just American and European interests and Israel, but also dissident Islamic groups such as the Shiites and their nests (Iran, Syria, Iraq,…). Thus ISIS guarantees an even more pure Islamic universalism, fundamentalism and jihadism than Al Qaida dared to represent.
If Usama Ben Laden truly believed in the shock of civilizations as do fundamentalist Protestant Americans, then their mutual hate of each other is somewhat symetrical and draws the same image of the world.
Rector Gérard François Dumont
Professor at Paris-Sorbonne University; President of the revue Population & Avenir; Vice-president of the Paris Academy of Geopolitics; Administrator of the Geography Society
“Islam in the world: what geographic characteristics?”
Geographic methods need recourse to understanding contemporary Geography through its inscription in historical heritage, and to analyzing phenomena on various scales. Spatial analysis of Islam needs therefore to review first of all the geographical history.
From the 9th to the 13th Centuries, Islam’s geography remained stable. From then on this geography engages a second phase related to peoples who are not forcibly Arab though islamised and who are motivated to extending Islam’s geography (whereas beforehand, itwas the Arab peoples who were extending religion in different directions), and this moves a little further into India without succeeding in a total penetration, but which on the other hand successfully made way into South-East Asia regions such as Indonesia.
On the European side, the evolution tends to be more related to the expansion of the Moslem religion, first in Anatolia, then throughout what is now known as Turkey, then into the Balkans until the conflicts with Europe brought about the end of this expansion.
From the 16th till the 20th Centuries, we are in a relatively stabilized situation with a geography that doesn’t evolve in any fundamental manner.
The new expansion produces itself as from the middle of the 20th Century, it’s the one we know today. It occurs in a fundamentally different context, since it is related to international migrations. Whereas this migration explains itself either by attractivity, that is to say countries wishing to attract active population needed for their economy, such as France in the 20s or 50s, or Germany that opened its doors to the Turks in 1961 because there was no more possibility of Germans coming from the East to satisfy economic needs, or on the other hand by apparently minor phenomena related to attractivity: for example the fact that even in Japan today there is a non negligible Moslem community of about 300 to 350 thousand individuals. However, these attractivity factors are also related to cast-off factors, that is to say in some countries we register inhabitant disatisfaction with regards their own country’s governing and which doesn’t lead enough to development of these areas, and this motivates (by way of example) North-africans to leave for France, for Italy, for Canada, … or to conflicts: civil war in Lebanon, or to basic change/revolution such as in Iran….
The results evoked by these three periods leads us to specify as secondary point, Islam geography according to the world’s five great regions: Pacific Asia, Middle East including North and Subsaharan Africa, North America, South America and Europe.
Indeed one observes that Islam geography in these five regions is different, this being the result of history. In effect, whereas we have an almost entirely Moslem region such as North-Africa-Middle-East, we do have different situations on other continents: Africa is a biconfessional continent with just about the same number of Moslems and Christians. We also have a marginal Moslem presence in Latin America, though an increasingly significant presence in North America, related to the repulsion-attraction phenomena previously evoked.
In a certain measure, these past years in Europe we note a confessional denonomination heritage that is contested by these migratory phenomena.
Then of course there are largely populated countries with very high Moslem presence, such as Turkey (96%), at the top. Then, in such countries as Malaya, Indonesia, Egypt and Bengladesh, there is a dominant Moslem presence associated with nevertheless significant minorities. Next, we have the category (eg. India, Russia) where Islam is a minority though quite consequent religion.
What must be noted here is the total opposition between countries with an agressively growing Moslem presence, and the countries where there is balanced religious diversity. In effect, because of geopolitical events since early 20th Century, on the one hand Moslem majorities are becoming stronger and more present, pushing non-Moslems out of the country: eg. the Armenian genocide in Turkey, the 1956 student uprising in Egypt, the evacuation of Europeans and Jews that had been settling for over twenty centuries in Algeria, the persecution of Armenians in Azarbaidjan, Morocco and Tunisia, civil war in Lebanon and Israel, the problems of India and Pakistan, and so forth. Obviously this two-edged sword of homogenization and of diversification is having very marking and highly important geopolitical effects.
By way of conclusion: because of Islam’s growing demography and world-level agressivity, it is already claiming a predominant role in world geopolitics throughout the 21st Century.
Master of conferences at the INALCO (French National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations); Director of the revue ‟La Pensée Libre”; Editor of the political column at Investig’Action; Editor at Outre-Terre – European geopolitical revue
‟Islam: Third World Juncture – The West and emerging powers”
Geographically, the Arabo-Moslem (or Arabo-Irano-Turkish) cultural circle situates itself at the very junction between developed Western powers, the often disinherited masses living in the South of the planet, and the newly emerging powers (in Eurasia, in South Africa and in South America). This is the planet’s most sensitive spot, where the current world’s main order-disorder contradictions are concentrated. To this one must add the off-shoots related to this nodal point in Europe’s suburbs disfigured by uncontrolled migration, social atomization and the prolonged uprooting of the inhabitants. This because in the past thirty years known as the pitiful thirty and that have erased the preceding ‟ glorious thirty ”, de-industrialization and delocalization have created a world labour crisis that predates a mass of poor idle youth that would formerly have been known as lumpenproletariat nourished on simplistic brain-washing creating imaginary foes upon whom to focus their depression and despair.
Socially, Arab and/or Moslem populations of Africa or of the Indian subcontinent, are, in their countries of origin as in host countries, are torn between, on the one hand the effects of rpecarity produced by poor industrialization and its de-industrialization consecutive to the wave of bio-ecological neoliberalism of the past decades, and on the other fascinated by the immense wealth accumulated by petro-powers that are simultaneously archaic monarchies or the equivalent, ultra- and post- modernist. These petro-powers have no qualms about exploiting the discontent of precarious rebellious youth in the East as in the West, just to distance themselves from internal ethno-religious conflicts and international political and economic imbalances that dangerously disfigure and misrepresent the true value of Islam’s revival based on fraternity, the struggle against injustice, and the eradication of economic usury and speculation.
This manipulated youth also serves the interests of a West that is floundering in problems to the extent of preaching war logic and civilizational clashes as being basic pillars of society.
In fact Moslem culture and religion, striving for revival and mobilizing at times against themselves, suffer from fundamental identity crises in various forms that are complicated by the mutations and inevitable evolutions of the world at large. And these crises represent of course opportunities of all sorts for the powers that be who, indeed, provoke and maintain them.
What we have been able to observe with the recruitment of increasing numbers of disillusioned brain-washed youth sincerely believing they are a sacred response to the call for ‟takfir” – to go and fight in Libya, in Syria, in Mali, in Yemen, in Iraq, etc., alongside those that some NATO seniors have wanted to present as ‟true revolutionaries and democrats.”
In fact, Western elite no longer having any saving projects or programs for their own societies riddled with xenophobia, racism, islamophobia, new and old fundamentalists and neo-evangelists, are discovering phenomenal economic and social interest in exploiting the troubled youth of troubled neighbours until – as we can plainly see today – the boomerang returns staright towards them.
Author and political scientist; Writer and journalist specializing in geopolitics, in 2013 he published a book called ‟The Gone Astray … Is Wahhabism a counter-Islam?” (French title: « Les Egarés – le Wahhabisme est-il un contre Islam?»
‟Fundamentalism: trans-frontier threat and/or global peril?”
Wahhabite jihadism has just manifested itself in spectacular manner in Australia, in Punjab, in Peshawar but also in Brooklyn and to a lesser degree in France at Jooué-lès-Tour and at Dijon, thereby declaring to what extent it constitutes a global threat. And this aims for Moslems in priority, in the Far East, in Caucasus, in Central Asia and all the way to China. Wahhabite jihadism.
Claims today to be attempting to dominate the world with its inherently violent doctrine that demands obligations unknown to even traditional Islam, such as: the imperative duty for each Wahhabite to participate in converting all non-Wahhabites (Moslem or not), starting by force of arms and not by any doctrinal discussion. Wahhabism claims to be the sole authentic Islamic orthodoxy and empowered to replace the Four Great Schools of classical Islam.
The mind-boggling attack against the school in Pakistan brings yet another very recent proof of this ideology’s devastating conversion tactics on a global scale.
And it is only on a global scale that this uncompromising terror can be remedied.
Third discussion with the audience
The year 2013 may, in hindsight, appear in many respects a turning point for the problematic of political Islam in general, and Islam itself, especially that embodied by the movement of the « Muslim Brotherhood », which seems in full reflux, after an unique but short-lived success in the continuation of the « Arab Springs » of 2011. Indeed, the revolutionary dynamic, born of these « Arab Springs », had offered an unexpected political opportunity for this movement of the « Muslim Brotherhood », long suppressed by the existing regimes. It was at first the victory of this in Tunisia, then in Egypt – matrix of the religious order of the « Muslim Brotherhood ». We can consider that the year 2013 is nevertheless the result of the incompetence, not only economically but also for security, the « Muslim-Brotherhoodism » in power. This movement had been more and more challenged at the internal level, which strangely coincided, externally with a greater mistrust on behalf of certain Arab-Muslim countries, « brethren ». These countries include the main oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf, with the notable exception of Qatar, which however supported them since the beginning of the « Arab Spring » in the forefront of which, Saudi Arabia. Most of these countries, from the religious point of view, fall within the Sunni obedience, but a Sunnism essentially of salafist expression – a product of the Saudi Wahhabism. This obedience has a long time been very reluctant, if not resolutely opposed, to join an « electoral » logic, that could favor the fitna – which means « division », « conflict », « revolt ». All these countries are mainly politically ultra-conservative, and found themselves pulled by Saudi Arabia, spearhead of a kind of « counter-revolution ». This counter-revolution implied in particular the putting in place of a strategy resolutely « anti-Brotherhood ». Because the political objectives of the « Arab Springs » of 2011 had been electorally expressed themselves in the « Muslim-Brotherhoodism », in a form which the revolutionary potential could only worry strongly these oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf. It was consequently a question of mortgaging the political success to make so that the « Muslim Brothers », finally stigmatized as Ikhwan muflisin (« failed Brothers »). The « counter-revolution », committed by the Saudi Arabia with most of the other oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf – with the exception of Qatar « pro-Brotherhood », – is not dissociable of a politic of containement anti-Iranian on the external plan. It can get on as far as the « revolutionary », vague desires stemming from « Arab Springs » could offer an opportunity in Iran to develop a strategy of destabilization of the Arab-Sunni regimes on the scale of the region, by taking support on the dynamics « revolutionary » – stricto sensu – of the « muslim-republican » sphere of influence of the « Muslim Brothers ».
Sociologist of religions (Maghreb North Africa, Islam,…), Fellow of the CISMOC (Levain Univgersity, Belgium), and Expert in the public politics and management of diversity.
He is author of several articles on questions relative to Islam.
‟The structural dimensions of organizations related to the Moslem Brotherhood in Europe”
The militancy crisis at the heart of the Moslem Brotherhood’s members in Europe exposes the subjects of dis-engagement and distancing throughout the organization. Nevertheless, the dynamics of dis-membering have not been well-studied to date by specialists of Islam whereas the subject is now essential to understanding the elements (level, denomination, intensity) of radicalization and the very character of the fundamentalism involved.
The defection process in Islamic circles provides insight into the very conditions of Islamic recruitment, and the sense and phases of acceptance or rejection, and the eventual outcome or result. In and of itself, an entire sociological subject is involved.
What are the motives of defection amongst Moslem Brethren? How does the defection process unfurl? What are the effects and after-effects on the individual identities and on the collective identity of those concerned?
These interrogations can seek to illuminate the recruitment and engagement procedures, the structuring of intra-group links, the Brotherhood’s normative system, its religious values and procedure with regards the world, and the behavioral principles of conversion and jihad.
Fourth discussion with the audience