Sjibbolet: de bijbel in onze literatuur

De bijbel is, overeenkomstig zijn inhoud, alomtegenwoordig in onze letteren: citaten uit of allusies aan de Schrift komen in ontelbare gedichten, verhalen en romans voor. Maar om zijn invloed waar te nemen, is niet meteen een tijdrovende tekstanalyse nodig, menige boektitel is al een woordelijk citaat of variant daarop.

Hedda Martens (1947) debuteerde in 1982 met de bundel Sjibbolet en andere verhalen. Een sjibbolet of schibbolet is een kenmerk waaraan herkend kan worden of iemand tot een bepaalde groep of overtuiging behoort. Het bijbelboek Richteren 12:5-6 geeft daarvoor de oorspronkelijke verklaring.
Tijdens een oorlog tussen de Gileadieten en Efraïmieten poogden de laatsten, door zich als Gileadieten te vermommen, de Jordaan over te vluchten.
“Wanneer nu een der vluchtelingen van Efraim zeide: Laat mij oversteken, dan zeiden de mannen van Gilead tot hem: Zijt gij een Efraïmiet? En antwoordde hij: Neen, dan zeiden zij tot hem: Zeg eens sjibboleth. Zeide hij dan: sibboleth, en kon hij het dus niet op de juiste wijze uitspreken, dan grepen zij hem en sloegen hem dood.”

Maarten ‘t Harts roman De Jacobsladder (1986) verwijst naar een droom die aartsvader Jakob had:
“Toen droomde hij, en zie, op de aarde was een ladder opgericht, waarvan de top tot aan de hemel reikte, en zie, engelen Gods klommen daarlangs op en daalden daarlangs neder.” (Genesis 28:12)

Ook Marnix Gijsen (1899-1984) putte voor een titel uit de bijbel. De vleespotten van Egypte (1952) is gebaseerd op de uitdrukking `hunkeren naar de vleespotten van Egypte’, die voortkomt uit het gemopper van de Israëlieten tegen Mozes en Aaron, die hen uit Egyptische slavernij bevrijd hadden en naar het beloofde land voerden. Exodus 16:3:
“Och, dat wij door de hand des Heren in het land Egypte gestorven waren, toen wij bij de vleespotten zaten en volop brood aten; want gij hebt ons in deze woestijn geleid om deze gehele gemeente van honger te doen omkomen.”

Theo Kars (1940-2015) verzamelde een aantal beschouwingen over literatuur onder de van zelfoverschatting getuigende titel Parels voor de zwijnen (1975). Dat baseerde hij, zij het wellicht niet uit eigen waarneming, op Mattheus 7:6, waarin Jezus oproept:
“Geeft het heilige niet aan de honden en werpt uw paarlen niet voor de zwijnen, opdat zij die niet vertrappen met hun poten en, zich omkerende, u verscheuren.”

Ik kan die uitdrukking nooit lezen zonder onmiddellijk te denken aan een anekdote over de Amerikaanse schrijfster Dorothy Parker, die eens gelijktijdig met een aanzienlijk jongere collega een deur naderde waar maar één van hen tegelijk door kon. De jongste hield haar pas in, zeggend ‘Age before beauty’. Parker nam meteen de uitnodiging aan, onder de woorden ‘Pearls before swine’.

Rembrandt van Rijn – Het feestmaal van Belsazar (circa 1636-1638)

Ook Nescio’s bundel Mene Tekel (1946) heet naar een spreuk uit het Oude Testament. Daniël 5:25-28 verhaalt hoe tijdens een feest van Belsazar, koning der Chaldeeën, lichtende letters op de muur verschijnen:
“Dit is het schrift, dat geschreven is: Mene, mene, tekel ufarsin. Dit is de uitlegging van de woorden: Mene: God heeft uw koningschap geteld en er een einde aan gemaakt; Tekel, gij zijt in de weegschaal gewogen en te licht bevonden; Peres: uw koninkrijk is gebroken en aan de Meden en Perzen gegeven.”

Uiteraard heeft dit fragment ook de uitdrukking ‘gewogen maar te licht bevonden’ opgeleverd, alsook ‘een teken aan de wand’. Daniël 5:5 beschrijft hoe Belsazar de tekenen ziet verschijnen:
“Terzelfdertijd verschenen vingers van een mensenhand, die tegenover de luchter op de kalk van de wand van het koninklijk paleis schreven, en de koning zag de rug van de hand, die aan het schrijven was.”

Mene tekel vond ook zijn weg naar Nederlandse poëzie, bijvoorbeeld naar deze regels uit het gedicht ‘Glazenwasser’ (1949) van Gerrit Achterberg

Handen- en voetental
verrichten in de lucht
een klein gebarenspel, een klucht
die hij alleen begrijpen zal;
het mene tekel en getal
van roekeloze hemelzucht.

Marnix Gijsens De barmhartige Samaritaan (1952) gaat terug op het evangelie van Lucas, op de gelijkenis van de Samaritaan die zich, in tegenstelling tot een priester, het lot aantrok van een door overvallers gewonde reiziger:
“Doch een Samaritaan, die op reis was, kwam in zijn nabijheid, en toen hij hem zag, werd hij met ontferming bewogen. En hij ging naar hem toe, verbond zijn wonden, goot er olie en wijn op; en hij zette hem op zijn eigen rijdier, bracht hem naar een herberg en verzorgde hem.” (Luc. 10:33-34)

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The World Today With Tariq Ali – Jewish Arabs And Cultural Cleansing

This week Tariq speaks to New York University scholar Ella Shohat about the history of Jewish people in the Middle East and North Africa, using her Baghdadi heritage as a starting point. Ella tackles the dominant, Western narrative on Jewishness, asserting that Jewish history, culture and opinion aren’t monolithic. Arab Jews, in particular, face the dichotomy of being considered both of the East and of the West – or, as Edward Said described it, being both Oriental and Orientalist.

Music in this video

Listen ad-free with YouTube Premium
Song – Shostakovich : String Quartet No.9 in E flat major Op.117 : III Allegretto
Artist – Brodsky Quartet
Album – Shostakovich : String Quartet No.9 in E flat major Op.117 : III Allegretto

Licensed to YouTube by WMG (on behalf of Teldec Classics International), and 5 Music Rights Societies
Song – Desert Life
Artist – Terry Devine-King
Album – ANW1181 – Editor’s Series – Middle East 3
Licensed to YouTube by Audio Network (on behalf of Audio Network plc); Audio Network (music publishing), and 6 Music Rights Societies

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The Political Economy Of Saving The Planet. An Interview With Noam Chomsky & Robert Pollin

Noam Chomsky ~ Photo: en.wikipedia.org

What needs to be done to advance a successful political mobilization on behalf of a global Green New Deal—a program that includes emissions reductions, expands renewable energy sources, addresses the needs of vulnerable workers, and promotes sustainable and egalitarian economic growth? Political scientist C. J. Polychroniou spoke with Noam Chomsky and economist Robert Pollin, who has been at the forefront of the fight for an egalitarian green economy for more than a decade, to discuss prospects for change, the connections between climate and the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether eco-socialism is a viable option for mobilizing people in the struggle to create a green future.

This conversation was adapted from Chomsky and Pollin’s new book Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet.

C. J. Polychroniou: How does the coronavirus pandemic, and the response to it, shed light on how we should think about climate change and the prospects for a global Green New Deal?

Noam Chomsky: At the time of writing, concern for the COVID-19 crisis is virtually all-consuming. That’s understandable. It is severe and is severely disrupting lives. But it will pass, though at horrendous cost, and there will be recovery. There will not be recovery from the melting of the arctic ice sheets and the other consequences of global warming.

Not everyone is ignoring the advancing existential crisis. The sociopaths dedicated to accelerating the disaster continue to pursue their efforts, relentlessly. As before, Trump and his courtiers take pride in leading the race to destruction. As the United States was becoming the epicenter of the pandemic, thanks in no small measure to their folly, the White House cabal released its budget proposals. As expected, the proposals call for even deeper cuts in healthcare support and environmental protection, instead favoring the bloated military and the building of Trump’s Great Wall. And to add an extra touch of sadism, the budget promotes a fossil fuel ‘energy boom’ in the United States, including an increase in the production of natural gas and crude oil.”

Robert Pollin

Meanwhile, to drive another nail in the coffin that Trump and associates are preparing for the nation and the world, their corporate-run EPA weakened auto emission standards, thus enhancing environmental destruction and killing more people from pollution. As expected, fossil fuel companies are lining up in the forefront of the appeals of the corporate sector to the nanny state, pleading once again for the generous public to rescue them from the consequences of their misdeeds.

In brief, the criminal classes are relentless in their pursuit of power and profit, whatever the human consequences. And those consequences will be disastrous if their efforts are not countered, indeed overwhelmed, by those concerned for “the survival of humanity.” It is no time to mince words out of misplaced politeness. “The survival of humanity” is at risk on our present course, to quote a leaked internal memo from JPMorgan Chase, America’s largest bank, referring specifically to the bank’s genocidal policy of funding fossil fuel production.

One heartening feature of the present crisis is the rise in community organizations starting mutual aid efforts. These could become centers for confronting the challenges that are already eroding the foundations of the social order. The courage of doctors and nurses, laboring under miserable conditions imposed by decades of socioeconomic lunacy, is a tribute to the resources of the human spirit. There are ways forward. The opportunities cannot be allowed to lapse.

Robert Pollin: In addition to the fundamental considerations that Noam has emphasized, there are several other ways in which the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic intersect. One underlying cause of the COVID-19 outbreak—as well as other recent epidemics such as Ebola, West Nile, and HIV—has been the destruction of animal habitats through deforestation and human encroachment, as well as the disruption of the remaining habitat through the increasing frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, and floods. As the science journalist Sonia Shah wrote in February 2020, habitat destruction increases the likelihood that wild species “will come into repeated intimate contact with the human settlements expanding into their newly fragmented habitats. It’s this kind of repeated, intimate contact that allows the microbes that live in their bodies to cross over into ours, transforming benign animal microbes into deadly human pathogens.”

It is also likely that people who are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution will face more severe health consequences than those breathing cleaner air. Aaron Bernstein of Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment states that “air pollution is strongly associated with people’s risk of getting pneumonia and other respiratory infections and with getting sicker when they do get pneumonia. A study done on SARS, a virus closely related to COVID-19, found that people who breathed dirtier air were about twice as likely to die from the infection.”

A separate point that was raised over the worst months of the COVID-19 pandemic was that the responses in the countries that immediately handled the crisis more effectively, such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, demonstrated that governments are capable of taking decisive and effective action in the face of crisis. The death tolls from COVID-19 in these countries were negligible, and normal life returned relatively soon after governments imposed initial lockdowns. Similarly decisive interventions could successfully deal with the climate crisis where the political will is strong and the public sectors are competent.

There are important elements of truth in such views, but we should also be careful to not push this point too far. Some commentators have argued that one silver lining outcome of the pandemic was that, because of the economic lockdown, fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions plunged alongside overall economic activity during the recession. While this is true, I do not see any positive lessons here with respect to advancing a viable emissions program that can get us to net zero emissions by 2050. Rather, the experience demonstrates why a degrowth approach to emissions reduction is unworkable. Emissions did indeed fall sharply because of the pandemic and the recession. But that is only because incomes collapsed and unemployment spiked over this same period. This only reinforces the conclusion that the only effective climate stabilization path is the Green New Deal, as it is the only one that does not require a drastic contraction (or “degrowth”) of jobs and incomes to drive down emissions.

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Climate Change Intensifies Inequality: An Interview With Gregor Semieniuk

Gregor Semieniuk

This is part of PERI’s economist interview series, hosted by C.J. Polychroniou.

Read Gregor’s bio here.

C.J. Polychroniou: You studied International Relations in Germany, at the Technische Universität Dresden, but ended up pursuing graduate studies in economics in the USA. What drew you into the “dismal science?”

Gregor Semieniuk: In Dresden, the program’s content spanned economics, public law and political science. What intrigued me about economics was that on the one hand it seemed necessary to grapple with the most intractable global issues of the time: for instance, why it was so difficult to increase most countries’ material affluence, how renewable energy could quickly replace the existing energy supply, and of course how the 2007-08 financial crisis and ensuing economic turmoil could be explained. On the other, my economics classes tended to provide straightforward answers to questions that were obviously more multi-faceted, like that a minimum wage was (categorically) to be discouraged because it diminished welfare. From my political science classes I knew that it was good practice to seek out contending theories to analyze the same problem through different lenses so as to gain a deeper understanding. I wanted to learn about contending theories also in economics, but there seemed to be only one theory, so-called neoclassical economics, and its strengths and weaknesses weren’t explicitly discussed. My search for a program that satisfied my curiosity led me to look to the USA, and ultimately to the New School for Social Research, with its famous teaching of a plurality of theoretical approaches. So I went there for my graduate studies. Of course, one thing I learned soon enough was that neoclassical economics and its offshoots can be more nuanced in their assumptions and conclusions. Yet, this does not replace the more variegated approaches and points of analytical departure that the full gamut of ideas in economics (in history and present) has to offer.

CJP: Your primary research areas are in environmental and ecological economics and in economic growth. Can you briefly spell out the connection between climate change and the economy? And, more specifically, in what ways does climate change threaten economic stability and growth?

GS: Climate change is driven by greenhouse gas emissions, that are mainly caused by combusting fossil fuels and from changes in land use (think intensive agriculture or deforestation). Fossil fuels in particular have been historically tightly interlinked with economic growth. Their qualities and quantities are arguably a key factor behind the industrial revolutions in today’s rich countries. Luckily, however, while energy is a fundamental input into any economic activity, there are increasingly good alternatives to fossil fuels to supply that energy without or with much lower emissions, such as modern solar and wind energy, and a growing variety of devices compatible with the electricity they supply, such as electric vehicles and heat pumps.

At an abstract level, the interaction of economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions can be thought of as economic growth causing greenhouse gas emissions to rise. The resulting climate change “dampens” or eventually reverses economic growth through negative impacts on productivity, profitability, capital stock and human lives. More concretely, climate change poses difficult problems and threatens human wellbeing and livelihood in many ways. There are direct impacts, such as lower agricultural productivity or sea level rises. More indirect impacts intensify social problems and conflicts. To give you one example, up to two thirds of Bangladesh’s population are at risk of being impacted by sea level rise by the mid-21st century. This does not mean permanent inundation but increased exposure to flooding and salinity that make it harder to earn a living on agriculture, or risks destroying coastal non-agricultural production sites and homes. The resulting increased migration from coastal to inland communities can exacerbate social conflicts and urban poverty there, ultimately threatening social and economic stability. In the USA, up to 40 million people could be exposed to such hazards by 2100.[1] Of course, here there are much more resources available that could be used to protect communities from these impacts, so the context in which climate change impacts occur matters.

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‘Limits’ Of Imagining The Pandemic Present

Michel Foucault 1926 – 1984  Photo: wikipedia.org

In 1984, Michel Foucault, the French historian (or) philosopher, associated with the  structuralist (or) post-structuralist movement, extensively commented [i] on the German Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s ‘Was ist Aufklarung?’ (What is Enlightenment?). Thus, two hundred years hence, Foucault knocked at the limits of moments we live through. For him, Kant is responding in the Berlinische Monatsschrift (Berlin monthly, 1784- November), a late enlightenment mouthpiece, on what should be the attitude to present.

The moment we live in was, for Kant, neither a distinct era, not a transition, but rather a grand exit (Ausgang). For Kant majority of human beings, in the time he wrote in (1700s end or 1800s beginning as the case may be), carried on their everyday life with the church and monarchy setting the rhythms. The autonomy to break the rhythm or to think about the present, and thus make the exit, was difficult then, as it is now. For Foucault Kant was to work on the ‘limits’ of the rhythm and the everyday in order to ‘Ausgang’ and reflect on what he was part of.

With the coordinates of daily rhythms overwhelmingly set by the virus and its trajectories, it has become even tougher to separate ourselves from the contingent contexts we are thrown into everyday. The possibility of thinking separate from the frames we are set against, and reflecting on our ‘makes’, will determine not only how we reflect on the times we live in, but also the way we live out.

People across space and time have transformed to cyborgs – the sciences; technological artifacts; institutional orders; as well as disseminations of knowledge literally imbricate lived lives. Risk societies, urban informalities, everyday precarities, techno-social deployments, or surveillance and pastoral orders have scaled our skins and rewired our bodily rhythms. The cyborg identities in their everyday relationship with other cyborgs, with differential make-ups determine the truth orders that govern.
Foucault comes back to haunt the ‘pandemic orders in the making’ prompting an engagement with the limits. Nothing short of a critical ontology of the cyborgs we are, deployed and networked across space and time, by the political every day, can achieve this. Only this can translate into a possibility or impossibility to imagine the limits that are imposed on us by the political systems, exaggerated by the pandemic.

The possibility of knocking at the limits for instance, might come at best as a tragic reflection during the physical ejection of the urban migrant labourer in India from the metropolis. This is not quite an exit and neither does one see the space or time to reflect on the exploitative order that had appropriated him/her along with millions of others as urban cyborgs. A Lebanese Druze leader who has seen the end of a world war, been through a three month war, or the civil wars; still might only see at best an end of the world because the pandemic has only added on to the noise of everyday violence and earth shattering explosions. The fortified corona shelters that the bus bays have transformed into in a hyper vigilant South Korea or a health care regime that fell apart on the corporate altars in the United States also differentially reduce the space of reflection or eventual exit. A self righteous regime like the one in Brazil that would rather bank on military men than people of science; or the celebrations of self sufficiency (atmanirbhar in the Indian state context) when possibilities of social welfare gets precluded; also talk of the times that give no space for exit-thoughts or possibilities for reflection.

In order to critically reflect on the pandemic everyday and eventually for life to live itself out, there is no other way than exposing the conflicts and contradictions inherent to the orders people live in. There is no other way than to reflect on the ‘fixes’ put forward as part of the ‘presents’. Michel Foucault prompts us to knock at the limits once again. The task for the more privileged in places that still maintain social contracts with populations is to think with Foucauldian ‘dispositives’. These are the institutional, administrative, and knowledge structures that both maintain the systems in place and the homeostasis of the cyborg selves we all are. It is only by thinking through the links between practices, and institutional techniques deployed way before pandemics, but enhanced and perpetuated by the virus; that the cyborgs can get deconstructed across places readying for a political present that is yet to be lived into.

Note
[i] What is Enlightenment? in Rabinow (P.), ed., The Foucault Reader, New York, Pantheon Books, 1984:32-50.

Mathew A Varghese, SIRP, Mahatma Gandhi University [Previously Researcher at University of Bergen/ UKZN]

 

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Ardhakathanak: A Commoner’s Discovery Of The Mughal Milieu

Ills.: Victoria and Albert Museum, London Mughal painting from 1615-1618

Abstract
The Ardhakathanak by Banarasidas is often considered the first autobiography in Hindi. Completed in the year 1641, the book provides us with a commoner’s understanding of the Mughal world. Often subjected an imperial bias, the book is a wildly neglected source of history. The study attempts to highlight various societal norms and ethics as evidenced by the Ardhakathanak. It undertakes a thematic division in understanding medieval Indian society, focusing on merchant practices, societal norms and Jain religion. Various aspects of a middle class man’s life are unraveled through the course of this study, including education, business decisions, wealth, family, domesticity, religious assimilation, rationality and self-discovery.
The study also embarks on an analysis of the Varanasiya sect of Jain religion briefly. Finally, emerging trends of individuality are highlighted. The study culminates with a brief account of how underutilized this primary source remains despite obvious merits to it.

Keywords: Banarasidas, Ardhkathanak, autobiography, merchant practices, religious pursuits, cultural history.

1. Introduction
The development of the literary genre of autobiography is a fairly ancient one, with St. Augustine’s autobiographical work ‘Confessions’ written in 399 CE. However, the understanding of the term autobiography to be a form of ‘self life writing’ is a recent phenomenon. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Robert Southy to be the progenitor of autobiography in the year 1809. However we find a reference to autobiography or self-biography being used by William Taylor in the Monthly Review of 1797.[i]The motivations for committing one’s life to writing are often religious in nature, to record stages in an individual’s life by which they lose their own identity to celebrate God’s divine power.[ii] Today, these works have become a prominent source of history and are extensively researched to arrive at a deeper understanding of the period it was written in. The earliest known biographical work that was produced in India is the Harshacharita written by Banabhatta in the 7 th century CE. However, truly autobiographical accounts only appear in India with the advent of Mughals. Among these, Baburnama was the earliest, and records Babur’s life between 1483 to 1530.[iii] The autobiographies written during this period were meant to preserve a person’s family history and good deeds for posterity. Thus, the representation of the subject is in light of the reader’s judgement. Therefore, we may conclude that these writings often lack a humanizing touch that can relate the subject to the reader.

One such piece in the ocean of Mughal writings is Banarasidas’s Ardhakathanak. It was first discovered by Nagari Pracharini Sabha and published by Dr. Mataprasad Gupta in 1943.[iv]
Banarasidas was a Jain merchant who lived during the Mughal Era in India. The title of his autobiography translates to ‘half a tale’. The book was completed in the winter of 1641 in the imperial capital of Agra, when Banarasi was 55 years of age. In Jain philosophy, a full life is considered to be of one hundred and ten years. Thus, the title of Banarasi’s book ‘Half a Tale.’ Although, the tale began to be the story of half a life, Banarasi met his demise only two years after the completion of his book, implying that the story covered his entire life. Written in the language of the Indian heartland, Braj Bhasha. Ardhakathanak is considered to be the first autobiography in Hindi.[v] Much to the contrary to other Mughal works, Banarasidas’s tone throughout the book is that of unabashed candor. Over the course of the book, Banarasi establishes a rapport with the reader and slowly but surely becomes a friend. By the time, we reach Banarasi’s close of life, a feeling of a long and fruitful companionship lingers on with the reader. We know Banarasi’s secrets, sorrows and soaring moments. Unlike other autobiographical works of the contemporary period the emphasis is not on making a perfect man devoid of any flaws, fit to govern the territory of India, but to lay bare before the reader the heart and soul of subject, good or bad.

It is evident from the content of the book and style of writing that Banarasi did not expect his autobiography to be read nearly 400 years later. In fact, there was an understanding that it would only be read by limited audience of friends and kinsmen.[vi] In Banarasi’s own words, the only reason he ventured into the business of recording his life, is ‘let me tell you all my story’.
A Jain from the noble Shrimal family,
That prince among men, that man called Banarasi,
He thought to himself, let me tell my story to all [vii]

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Définir l’islamophobie et ses manifestations politiques après les attentats de « Charlie Hebdo »

Ills.: UK Human Rights Blog

Résumé

Cet article examine les difficultés rencontrées par les définitions contemporaines de l’islamophobie, notamment celle de l’influent rapport Runnymede, face aux réactions des responsables politiques européens aux attentats de janvier 2015 à Paris. L’application de la méthode d’analyse du discours politique (ADP) à ces réactions souligne leur ambiguïté eu égard aux définitions contemporaines de l’islamophobie, et justifie de les affiner.

Mots clés
Islamophobie, rapport Runnymede, attentats de Charlie Hebdo, Union européenne, populisme.

Cet article est la version traduite et condensée de: Bogacki Mariusz, de Ruiter Jan Jaap et Sèze Romain, Defining Islamophobia and its socio-political applications in the light of Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Rozenberg Quartely, 2019. URL: 
http://rozenbergquarterly.com/the-charlie-hebdo-attacks-in-paris-defining-islamophobia-and-its-socio-political-applications/

Introduction
L’étude des réactions de peur ou d’hostilité à l’égard de l’islam et des musulmans a connu un tournant avec la publication du rapport Islamophobia : a challenge for us all (Runnymede Trust, 1997 et 2016), par la Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, créée par le Runnymede Trust (groupe de réflexion indépendant). Cette étude pionnière propose d’identifier les causes et manifestations de l’islamophobie, définie comme « une hostilité non fondée envers l’islam », une « crainte ou [une] haine de l’islam, et donc […] la peur ou l’aversion des musulmans ou de la plupart d’entre eux » (Runnymede Trust, 1997, 1), et les « conséquences d’une telle hostilité en matière de discriminations […] et d’exclusion des activités politiques et sociales » (idem, 4). Les auteurs opèrent cependant une distinction fondamentale entre « la peur phobique de l’islam [qui] caractérise des attitudes fermées, et les désaccords et critiques légitimes [qui] caractérisent des attitudes ouvertes » (idem, 4). Cette distinction repose sur huit clivages dans la façon d’appréhender l’islam et les musulmans : uniformité/diversité, séparation/interaction, infériorité/différence, adversité/partenariat, manipulation/sincérité, rejet/considération de la critique de l’Occident, justification/réprobation des discriminations, justification/réprobation de l’islamophobie (idem : 5).

Bien que ce rapport demeure une référence, il a commencé à être vigoureusement critiqué dix ans après sa publication, en particulier pour cette distinction entre « attitudes fermées » et « ouvertes ». Cette binarité tend à résumer l’attitude envers l’islam et les musulmans à de l’islamophilie ou à de l’islamophobie, tout en objectivant par effet de miroir des représentations symétriquement opposées de musulmans « bons ou mauvais », quoiqu’il en soit essentialisés, (Allen, 2010, 76). « L’islamophobie ne peut être déterminée et définie par le “type” de musulmans qui en sont victimes. Elle doit aller plus loin et tenir compte de la reconnaissance d’un “caractère musulman” réel ou perçu », car cette approche réduit l’islamophobie à un « phénomène à la fois trop simpliste et largement superficiel, défini davantage par les caractéristiques des victimes que par la motivation et les intentions des auteurs » (idem, 79-80). Or, cette approche néglige ce faisant l’existence d’un angle mort : il existe en effet des préjugés qui ne procèdent pas d’attitudes « fermées », mais qui sont la conséquence de différences de cultures, de représentations du monde et de valeurs. Les musulmans qui ne se laissent pas réduire à cette binarité sont ainsi exclus de ce traitement de l’islamophobie, et peuvent de ce fait devenir les victimes oubliées du phénomène.

Les analyses de Chris Allen invitent à considérer de nouveaux aspects des manifestations de l’islamophobie, toujours plus ambigus et complexes après le 11 Septembre, comme l’illustrent les débats contemporains sur  le niqab, le multiculturalisme et les processus d’intégration religieuse et culturelle en Europe. À sa suite, divers chercheurs ont alors souligné les limites du rapport Runnymede, et proposé des alternatives. Deepa Kumar (2012, 2) et Ibrahim Kalin (2011, 11) se concentrent davantage sur la dimension racialisante du phénomène. Tahir Abbas (2011, 65), Nathan Lean et John Esposito (2012, 13) en analysent les aspects phobiques. Mohamed Nimer (2011, 78), Hedvig Ekerwald (2011) et Tahir Abbas (2011) s’intéressent aux caractéristiques culturelles et religieuses de l’islamophobie. Même Chris Allen (2010, 190) a tenté de proposer une définition alternative qui, si exhaustive soit-elle, présente une longueur et des incohérences telles qu’elle s’avère peu opérationnelle. Jocelyne Césari (2011) est sans doute celle qui acte le plus précisément ces difficultés. Elle souligne que le terme « islamophobie » est contestable parce qu’il est souvent « appliqué de manière imprécise à des phénomènes divers, allant de la xénophobie à l’antiterrorisme. Il regroupe toutes sortes de discours et d’actes en suggérant qu’ils émanent tous d’un même noyau idéologique, issu d’une peur irrationnelle (phobie) de l’islam » (idem, 21). C’est donc l’ambiguïté du terme permise par sa généralité qui rend impossible son application aux phénomènes divers qui peuvent naître des préjugés à l’égard de l’islam, mêlant préjugés et idéologies politiques variées.

Ces débats ont justifié une actualisation du rapport Runnymede, vingt ans après sa publication en 1997, dans l’objectif « d’améliorer la précision et la qualité des débats, ainsi que des politiques publiques pour lutter contre l’islamophobie » (Elahi, Khan, 2017, 1). Sur la base des réactions au rapport Runnymede, le groupe de réflexion en propose deux nouvelles définitions. La première, abrégée, définit l’islamophobie comme un « racisme antimusulman ». La seconde, plus détaillée, la définit comme « toute distinction, exclusion, restriction ou préférence à l’égard des musulmans (ou perçus comme tels) qui a pour objet ou pour effet d’annuler ou de compromettre la reconnaissance, la jouissance ou l’exercice, sur un pied d’égalité, des droits de l’Homme et des libertés fondamentales dans les domaines politique, économique, social, culturel ou tout autre domaine de la vie publique » (ibid.). Certains contributeurs à ce rapport ont également questionné la pertinence du terme « islamophobie ».

Après avoir discuté de notions de « racisme antimusulman », « préjugés antimusulmans » et « discriminations antimusulmans », Shenaz Bunglawala conclut à la nécessité de conserver le terme « islamophobie » pour deux raisons. Premièrement, il ressort des contenus médiatiques (britanniques) que le terme « islam » a plus souvent une charge péjorative que le terme « musulman », « plaçant ainsi l’appartenance perçue à un groupe au cœur de ces stéréotypes » (Bunglawala, 2017, 70). Deuxièmement, « adopter une terminologie centrée sur la victime (i.e. sur le « musulman » et non sur « l’islam ») risquerait de mener la lutte contre l’islamophobie à manquer sa cible et à oublier de prendre en considération le contexte favorable à l’uniformisation des représentations sur l’islam et les musulmans ». À revers des autres contributeurs, Shenaz Bunglawala argue en faveur de la pertinence de la dichotomie opposant attitudes « ouvertes » et « fermées », notamment au regard de la définition de l’islamophobie comme « racisme antimusulman » : « à une époque où les termes “islam”, “islamique”, “islamiste extrémiste” et “islamiste” sont fréquemment chargés de connotations péjoratives, est-il si étonnant que “l’islamophobie” conserve son pouvoir de nommer l’objet de la haine ? » (idem, 72).

Il ressort de ces débats qu’il est nécessaire de se départir des prénotions sur les victimes a priori pour examiner la pertinence des définitions de l’« islamophobie » au regard des manifestations qu’elles recouvrent dans un contexte donné. Sachant qu’elles ont crû tout en se complexifiant après le 11 Septembre, dans quelle mesure la résurgence du djihadisme depuis le milieu des années 2000 en Europe et les réactions qu’elle suscite interrogent-elles la pertinence de ce terme ? Afin d’apporter des éléments de réponse à cette question, seront examinées les réactions des responsables politiques européens à des attentats djihadistes qui les ont récemment tous interpelés : ceux de janvier 2015 à Paris. Ces évènements ont en effet concouru à renforcer les discours et pratiques discriminantes à l’endroit des musulmans dans l’Union européenne (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, 2016), tout particulièrement dans le contexte des débats sur la radicalisation où les populations musulmanes font facilement figure d’ennemi intérieur (Baker-Beall et al., 2015 ; Ragazzi, 2016). Les réactions des responsables politiques à ces attentats sont en effet propres à faire apparaître les ambiguïtés liées à l’appréhension contemporaine de l’islamophobie, donc à inviter à réviser sa définition d’une part, et à réfléchir à ses implications sur les plans politique, législatif et social d’autre part.

Après avoir décrit la méthodologie appliquée pour construire le corpus des discours et les analyser (1), seront présentés les résultats de l’analyse du discours politique (2), avant de conclure par des propositions visant à cerner plus pertinemment les discours discriminatoires à l’endroit de l’islam et des musulmans.

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Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask [documentary]

Frantz Fanon, also known as Ibrahim Frantz Fanon, was a French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher from the French colony of Martinique, whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism.

Filmmaker and installation artist, Isaac Julien CBE RA, was born in 1960 in London, where he currently lives and works. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

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