quinta-feira, 29 de março de 2007

Pascal Bruckner: «A reply to Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash»

«Any polemic has the potential to enlighten, even if it ruffles feathers. The polemic I penned for signandsight.com and Perlentaucher.de with my comments on Ian Buruma's book "Murder in Amsterdam," and which has provoked so many passionate reactions in the US, Europe and right across to Israel and the Middle East, seems very revealing in this respect. Allow me to backtrack. In a brilliant book on the end of tolerance in the Netherlands and the murder in Amsterdam of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Moroccan extremist, the Anglo-Dutch intellectual Ian Buruma traced the career of the Somali-born Dutch member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself menaced by death threats. Buruma's portrait is of formidable ambiguity. It celebrates her courage so as better to deplore her blindness and fanaticism on the question of human rights, both of which led her astray in her struggle against religion. Under the guise of an objective reportage, Burma pronounces mezza voce a veritable condemnation. Moreover, supported by Timothy Garton Ash, Ian Buruma has come out in support of the highly controversial Tariq Ramadan, who in the New York Times of February 4, 2007 (online here at the International Herald Tribune) he casts as the sole serious dialogue partner of reformist Islam.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that in certain countries Islam is becoming Europe's second religion. As such, its adherents are entitled to freedom of religion, to decent locations and to all of our respect. On the condition, that is, that they themselves respect the rules of our republican, secular culture, and that they do not demand a status of extraterritoriality that is denied other religions, or claim special rights and prerogatives such as unisex swimming pools and separate gym or other classes. A tense international context surrounds this problem. Today a fundamentalist wave is bearing down on Europe, seeking to re-Islamise the Muslim communities accused of tepidness, and ultimately to place our entire continent of infidels under the law of the Prophet. This proselytism is carried out by all kinds of revanchist groups, the Saudi Wahhabists, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, all of whom rival each other in zeal. The birth of an enlightened European Islam takes on importance in this context, one which can serve as a model for Muslims all over the world.
I repeat: two directions lie open to us here. The first, inspired by the Anglo-Saxon tradition, stresses strict differences, basing itself on the respect for religious adherence. Here multicultural Canada is the key reference. The other, more French in inspiration, is based on an equally strict separation of church and state, and the subordination of beliefs to civil law. Even if both models are currently undergoing a crisis, as Timothy Garton Ash rightly notes, it seems to me that in all respects the principle of secularism remains the best compass.
Modern France was formed in the struggle against the Catholic Church, and remains extremely sensitive to religious fanaticism. And I maintain that Jacques Chirac, supported by the commission headed by Bernhard Stasi, was right to put a law to parliament on the banning of religious symbols in school and public administrations. This initiative passed easily, with few opposing voices. Supporters included a majority of French Muslim women keen to safeguard their emancipation, among them Fadela Amara (news story), founder with Mohammed Abdi of the association "Ni putes, ni soumises" in the suburbs (more here).
"In conflicts between the weak and the strong, liberty helps suppress the weak, while the law protects them" said Abbé Grégoire at the time of the revolution. It's so true that many English, Dutch and German politicians, shocked by the excesses that the wearing of the Islamic veil has given way to, now envisage similar legislation curbing religious symbols in public space. The separation of the spiritual and corporeal domains must be strictly maintained, and belief must confine itself to the private realm.
It's not enough to condemn terrorism. The religion that engenders it and on which it is based, right or wrong, must also be reformed. Can one understand the Inquisition, the witches burned at the stake, the Crusades and the condemnation of heretics without referring to the dogmas of Roman Catholicism? The time has come to do for Islam what was done for Christianity as of the 15th century: by bending it to modernity and adapting it to contemporary mentalities. It is too often forgotten that the fight against the Church in Europe was one of outrageous sectarianism, with unheard of violence on both sides. Cathedrals were burned; priests, bishops and nuns were hung or guillotined; the clergy's goods were confiscated. But in the end this fight liberated us from the tutelage of the cassock, radically limiting ambitions on the part of Rome and the various Protestantisms to direct the social order and govern not only people's consciences, but also their bodies. There is no reason why Islam, as soon as it enters the Occidental democratic sphere, should escape secularism and enjoy a favour that is denied to other confessions.
This is why I continue to prefer the position of Ayaan Hirsi Ali over that of Tariq Ramadan, even now that he has become a friend of tolerance and a prophet of anti-capitalism. In his laudatory portrait of Ramadan - that borders on hagiography despite minor reservations - Ian Buruma still manages to reveal some worrying traits in his new champion. I will refer to only one. While propagating the feminine sense of shame and recommending that Muslim women should abstain from shaking men's hands and using mixed swimming pools if they wish, Tariq Ramadan states that for his part, he does shake women's hands. Yes, you read it right: in 2007, a self-styled "progressive" Muslim preacher who has received the support of the entire French extreme Left for his anti-liberalism, pushes audaciousness to the point of admitting that he shakes women's hands. He should be named secretary of state for the condition of women!

Sem comentários :