Why Trump’s Racist And Neo-Fascist Campaign Strategy Resonates In 21st Century America

CJ Polychroniou

With the November election just around the corner, Donald Trump is raising the level of his racist and fascist rhetoric to new heights, fully aware that his hate speech and authoritarian overtures resonate with a large segment of white Americans in 21st century who, as surreal and obscene as this may sound, would have preferred that time stood still, stuck either in the era of the plantation system or at least at a time when whites in this country felt so superior to minorities that they could discriminate and oppress the “Other” without fear of getting into trouble with the law, let alone become witness to public outcries over police brutality, systemic racism, and demands for gender and racial equality.

Indeed, it is the awareness of the existence of a very large segment of white Americans in 21 st century who wish to roll back the clock on account of their growing insecurities and fears about the[ir] future that prompts Trump to sound ever more racist and project ever more the image of a strong man as time moves closer to election time. In doing so, his hope is that even moderate white voters might be stirred into feeling the need to join in on what he obviously hopes they may come to recognize and appreciate, just like his traditional base of white supremacists does, as an urgent “patriotic” campaign on the part of the “Great White Leader” to save [white] America’s soul. As for his rich supporters, he doesn’t care one way or another about the impact of his rhetoric on them because he knows they will continue supporting him as long as he maintains a steadfast course of lavishing them with gifts, such as huge tax cuts, deregulation policies, etc.

Trump’s attempt to outdo himself was most evident at his Minnesota rally a few days ago– perhaps the most extreme example so far of how far the “Great White Leader” is ready and willing to go in order to spread fear and promote hate as tactical means of securing another electoral victory in a country sharply divided into different political tribes.
And make no mistake about it: reliance on fear, hate, and violence have always been the political tools of fascists of all stripes.

Trump declared to Minnesotans that Biden would turn their state into a “refugee camp.” He warned them of “sleepy Joe Biden’s extreme plan to flood” Minnesota with refugees from Somalia, while denigrating at the same time the election of Rep. Ilhan Omar, who came to the United States as a child refugee from Somalia, calling her an “extremist”. To this insidious racist rhetoric, his fanatical base from below responded by screaming “send her back.”

Trump’s racist rhetoric hit a crescendo when he let his crowd know that they are supporting him because of their “good genes.”And to further upgrade his neo-fascist profile with his adoring crowd, he said it was “a beautiful thing” when journalist Ali Velshi got struck by a rubber bullet while covering a peaceful protest.

All in all, Trump’s performance at the Minnesota rally on September 18 was an act stolen from the electoral campaign of Hitler and his Nazi party. The only thing he fell short from saying was that anyone who did not support him should be deprived of civic rights and sent to prison or concentration camps.

No rational human being can fail to see that Trump is a racist with strong fascist impulses, but even critics of Trump fail to see or properly acknowledge that the “Great White Leader” employs the rhetoric of racism and fascism because there is a huge market for it in 21 st century America!

Read more

Bookmark and Share

Lost Homelands, Imaginary Returns – The Exilic Literature Of Iranian And Iraqi Jews

Ella Shohat – Ills.: Joseph Sassoon Semah

When I first contemplated my participation in the “Moments of Silence” conference, I wondered to what extent the question of the Arab Jew /Middle Eastern Jew merits a discussion in the context of the Iran- Iraq War. After all, the war took place in an era when the majority of Jews had already departed from both countries, and it would seem of little relevance to their displaced lives. Yet, apart from the war’s direct impact on the lives of some Jews, a number of texts have engaged the war, addressing it from within the authors’ exilic geographies where the war was hardly visible. And, precisely because these texts were written in contexts of official silencing of the Iran-Iraq War, their engagement of the war is quite striking. For displaced authors in the United States, France, and Israel, the Iran-Iraq War became a kind of a return vehicle to lost homelands, allowing them to vicariously be part of the events of a simultaneously intimate and distant geography. Thus, despite their physical absence from Iraq and Iran, authors such as Nissim Rejwan, Sami Michael, Shimon Ballas, and Roya Hakakian actively participate in the multilingual spaces of Iranian and Iraqi exilic literature. Here I will focus on the textual role of war in the representation of multi-faceted identities, themselves shaped by the historical aftermath of wars, encapsulated in memoirs and novels about Iraq and Iran, and written in languages that document new stops and passages in the authors’ itineraries of belonging.

What does it mean, in other words, to write about Iran not in Farsi but in French, especially when the narrative unfolds largely in Iran and not in France? What is the significance of writing a Jewish Iranian memoir, set in Tehran, not in Farsi but in English? What are the implications of writing a novel about Iraq, not in Arabic, but in Hebrew, in relation to events that do not involve Iraqi Jews in Israel but rather take place in Iraq, events spanning the decades after most Jews had already departed en masse? How should we understand the representation of religious/ethnic minorities within the intersecting geographies of Iraq and Iran when the writing is exercised outside of the Iran-Iraq War geography in languages other than Arabic and Farsi? By conveying a sense of fragmentation and dislocation, the linguistic medium itself becomes both metonym and metaphor for a highly fraught relation to national and regional belonging. This chapter, then, concerns the tension, dissonance, and discord embedded in the deployment of a non-national language (Hebrew) and a non-regional language (English or French) to address events and the interlocutions about them that would normally unfold in Farsi and Arabic, but where French, English, and Hebrew stand in, as it were, for those languages. More broadly, the chapter also concerns the submerged connections between Jew and Muslim in and outside of the Middle East, as well as the cross-border “looking relations” between the spaces of the Middle East. Writing under the dystopic sign of war and violent dislocation, this exilic literature performs an exercise in ethnic, religious, and political relationality, pointing to a textual desire pregnant with historical potentialities.

The Linguistic Inscription of Exile
The linguistic medium itself, in these texts, reflexively highlights violent dislocations from the war zone. For the native speakers of Farsi and Arabic the writing in English, French, or Hebrew is itself a mode of exile, this time linguistic. At the same time if English (in the case of Roya Hakakian and Nissim Rejwan), French (Marjane Satrapi), and Hebrew (Sami Michael and Shimon Ballas) have also become their new symbolic home idioms. In these instances, the reader has to imagine the Farsi in and through the English and the French, or the Arabic in and through the Hebrew. Written in the new homeland, in an “alien” language, these memoirs and novels cannot fully escape the intertextual layers bequeathed by the old homeland language, whether through terms for cuisine, clothing, or state laws specifically associated with Iran and Iraq. The new home language, in such instances, becomes a disembodied vehicle where the lexicon of the old home is no longer fluently translated into the language of the new home—as though the linguistic “cover” is lifted. In this sense, the dislocated memoir or novel always-already involves a tension between the diegetic world of the text and the language of an “other” world that mediates the diegetic world.
Such exilic memoirs and novels are embedded in a structural paradox that reflexively evokes the author’s displacement in the wake of war. The dissonance, however, becomes accentuated when the “cover language” belongs to an “enemy country,” i.e., Israel/Hebrew, or United States/English. The untranslated Farsi or Arabic appears in the linguistic zone of English or Hebrew to relate not merely an exilic narrative, but a meta-narrative of exilic literature caught in-between warring geographies.

Figure 2.1. The recusatio in Persepolis. Image courtesy of Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis (Pantheon, 2007), p. 142.

Roya Hakakian’s Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis both tell a coming-of-age story set during the period of the Iranian Revolution, partially against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq War. Written by an Iranian of Muslim background (Satrapi) and by an Iranian of Jewish background (Hakakian), both memoirs are simultaneously marked by traumatic memories as well as by longing for the departed city—Tehran. Although the Jewish theme forms a minor element in Persepolis, Satrapi’s graphic memoir does stage a meaningful moment for the Muslim protagonist in relation to her Jewish friend, Neda Baba-Levy. More specifically, it treats a moment during the Iran-Iraq War when Iraqi scud missiles are raining down on Tehran, and where neighborhood houses are reduced to rubble, including the house of the Baba-Levy family. While forming only a very brief reference in the film adaptation, the chapter in the memoir, entitled “The Shabbat,” occupies a significant place in the narrative. Marjane goes out to shop and hears a falling bomb. She runs back home and sees that the houses at the end of her street are severely damaged. When her mother emerges from their home, Marjane realizes that while her own house is not damaged, Neda’s is. At that moment, Marjane hopes that Neda is not home, but soon she remembers that it is the Shabbat. As her mother pulls Marjane away from the wreckage, she notices Neda’s turquoise bracelet. Throughout her graphic novel, Satrapi does display “graphic” images, showing, for example, the torture of her beloved uncle by the Shah’s agents and then by the Islamicist revolutionaries who later execute him. Here, however, the Neda incident triggers a refusal to show what is being expressed in words. After the destruction, Satrapi writes: “I saw a turquoise bracelet. It was Neda’s. Her aunt had given it to her for her fourteenth birthday. The bracelet was still attached to . . . I do not know what..” The image illustrates the hand of little Marjane covering her mouth. In the next panel, she covers her eyes, but there is no caption. The following final panel has a black image with the caption: “No scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger.”[i]

Of special interest here is precisely the refusal to show, a device referred to in the field of rhetoric as recusatio, i.e., the refusal to speak or mention something while still hinting at it in such a way as to call up the image of exactly what is being denied. In Persepolis it also constitutes the refusal to show something iconically, in a medium—the graphic memoir—essentially premised, by its very definition, on images as well as words. Marjane recognizes the bracelet, but nothing reminiscent of her friend’s hand, while her own hand serves to hide her mouth, muffling a possible scream. In intertextual terms, this image recalls an iconic painting in art history, Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
While the expressionistic painting has the face of a woman taken over by a large screaming mouth, here, Persepolis has the mouth covered; it is a moment of silencing the scream. Satrapi represses—not only visually but also verbally—the words that might provide the context for the image, i.e., what Roland Barthes calls the “anchorage” or the linguistic message or caption that disciplines and channels and the polysemy or “many-meaningedness” of the image.[ii] In this case, the caption also reflects a recusatio, in that no scream could express what she is seeing and feeling. As a result, there is a double silence, the verbal silence and the visual silence implied by the hand on the mouth, and then by the hands on the eyes culminating in the black frame image. The final black panel conveys Marjane’s subjective point of view of not seeing, blinded as it were by the horrifying spectacle of war.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

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)

Read more

Bookmark and Share

‘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.

[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]


Bookmark and Share

Ardhakathanak: A Commoner’s Discovery Of The Mughal Milieu

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

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]

Read more

Bookmark and Share

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

Ills.: UK Human Rights Blog


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: 

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.

Read more

Bookmark and Share

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.

Bookmark and Share

The Initiative For Fair Open Access Publishing In South Asian Studies ~ The 2020 Manifesto

The 2020 Manifesto for Fair Open Access Publishing in South Asian Studies

Profiteering and restricted access have led to a crisis in academic publishing. The Fair Open Access movement is best promoted by mobilizing individual disciplines. With this manifesto, we, an open group of scholars of classical and modern South Asian Studies, declare our support for Fair Open Access publishing.

§1  As is well known, the impact of publications is very often contingent on factors independent of the quality of the research or the competence of the authors. This includes that the research is published in a renowned journal (or other publication medium), by a renowned editor, or – and this has become a major problem – by a prestigious publishing house.

§2  Most of the prestigious publication media are nowadays controlled by a small number of profiteering international publishers. These companies often sell their products at unjustifiably high prices. Much of the editorial work, on the other hand, is outsourced to researchers (or their co-workers, assistants, employees, secretaries etc.). Because they depend on the prestige capitalized on by the publishers, they generally do this without payment. This situation has led to a real crisis in academic publishing.

§3  The Open Access (OA) movement is a reaction to this development: the advance of digitization has made it easy to make the results of research freely available on the internet. OA publishing offers free access to research, regardless of an individual’s financial means or affiliation with a subscribing institution. In the OA model, the individual reader does not pay (except, of course, in the case of printed works). Instead, the publication costs are borne by universities, libraries, scholarly societies, professional associations or other scholarly institutions. While in the wake of this development a number of institutions have founded in-house publishing projects, some commercial publishers have started to offer OA as well.

§4  In order to compensate for the revenue losses resulting from the free availability of OA publications, however, some profiteering publishers have begun to calculate special fees – imposed on the authors or their institutions. Most often, these fees are unjustifiably high and overcompensate for the production costs. As a growing number of academic institutions nowadays demand that the publications of their employees be OA, they are willing to pay these fees. They even regularly schedule a special budget to finance the publishers.

§5  Ultimately, however, it is the tax payers who have to pay, often several times: funding for research and researchers, library budgets for subscription fees, acquisition of overpriced books, processing costs charged by the publishers for OA publications etc. The only reason this system functions is that researchers and their institutions are dependent on the prestige that profiteering publishers have capitalized on for commercial benefit.

Go to (incl. List of Publishers & Journals): https://foasas.org

Bookmark and Share
  • About

    Rozenberg Quarterly aims to be a platform for academics, scientists, journalists, authors and artists, in order to offer background information and scholarly reflections that contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue in a seemingly divided world. By offering this platform, the Quarterly wants to be part of the public debate because we believe mutual understanding and the acceptance of diversity are vital conditions for universal progress. Read more...
  • Support

    Rozenberg Quarterly does not receive subsidies or grants of any kind, which is why your financial support in maintaining, expanding and keeping the site running is always welcome. You may donate any amount you wish and all donations go toward maintaining and expanding this website.

    10 euro donation:

    20 euro donation:

    Or donate any amount you like:

    ABN AMRO Bank
    Rozenberg Publishers
    IBAN NL65 ABNA 0566 4783 23
    reference: Rozenberg Quarterly

    If you have any questions or would like more information, please see our About page or contact us: info@rozenbergquarterly.com
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Follow us on Twitter

  • Archives