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Kevin Barrett

Republic of Islamophobia by James Wolfreys; Pub: Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2018, 208 pages

Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.” That idealistic slogan hyping freedom and inclusiveness is the official motto of two modern nations, France and Haiti (the latter, ironically, was born in a slave revolt against the former).
Despite the persistence of their national motto, French people today are growing increasingly unfree, unequal, and ungiven to brotherly love. According to Jim Wolfreys, a Senior Lecturer on European Politics at Kings College London, the French drift away from freedom and equality has produced a sick society infected by an ever more widespread, ever more normalized, ever more delusional racist scapegoating of Muslims.

In Republic of Islamophobia, Wolfreys traces the French anti-Islam insanity epidemic from its colonial past to the endless “war on terror” that has reshaped history since September 11, 2001. Wolfreys correctly points out that the French war on terror “predates 9/11. Its origins go back to the Republic’s colonial mission, whose tropes and reflexes were revived in the early-1990s as the Algerian civil war spilled over into France, leading to an intensification of state security provisions and, as Paul Silverstein notes, ‘the interpellation… of Franco-Maghrebis as ‘Muslims,’ a hailing that has been abetted by the larger public drama around the hijab’” (p. 2).

One of the limitations of Wolfreys’ book, like so many others from professors and “respectable” publishers, is its willingness to heap scorn on some lies while seemingly protecting others from scrutiny. First let’s consider the Islamophobic myths that Wolfreys is willing to expose:

• The pretext that France’s 2004 law prohibiting religious attire in public is religiously neutral, when in fact it is nothing more than a symptom and weapon of Islamophobia.

• The claim, repeated in high school textbooks, that France’s vaunted tradition of laicité (secularism) has always been about preventing religious expression in public, when in fact the opposite is true, “the 1905 law, so frequently cited today in support of the new secularism, meant more, not less, freedom of expression” (p. 92). As Wolfreys explains, the whole purpose of the 1905 secularism law was to nullify the French government’s residual de facto recognition of Catholicism as France’s official religion, thereby allowing Protestants, Muslims, Jews, non-religious people, and other minorities the right of full and complete expression of their religious views, affiliations, and identities in the public square. That right, granted in 1905 and respected until the anti-hijab law of 2004, is now a dead letter.

• The claim by Islamophobes that Muslims spilling over into the street during Friday prayers is equivalent to the Nazi invasion and occupation of France, even though such spillovers happen in only a very few of the 2,300 masjids in France due to French government’s hindrance of much-needed construction of new masjids (by comparison, France has 36,000 Catholic churches, maintained at government expense despite being largely devoid of worshippers).

• The pretense that French Islamophobia is not racist because it provides a legitimate critique of religion, when in reality it is used indiscriminately against people from North and Sub-Saharan Africa regardless of their degree of religiosity (in racist newspeak “Muslim” often translates as “brown-skinned immigrant”).

• The myth that the new wave of “populist” racism is a spontaneous phenomenon emerging naturally from white working communities, when in fact it is the strange fruit of an orchestrated public relations campaign led by elites, who inflict racist brainwashing on workers to conceal neoliberalism’s destruction of the working class and to legitimize Zionism’s crimes.

• The false assertion that white workers become racists because they are in close contact with immigrants, when in fact studies show that this is not the case. The truth is that voters for the Islamophobic National Front tend to be not white workers who live and work with immigrants, but rather those who are unemployed, homeless, or otherwise economically stressed.

Wolfreys is to be commended for exposing the fact that the tidal wave of Islamophobic racism washing over France is the product of a toxic neoliberal-Zionist publicity campaign. But he fails to confront the most sordid details of that campaign — details that would, if exposed, cause the whole campaign to implode.

I am referring, of course, to Islamophobia-inciting false flag operations, notably those of September 11, 2001, and the French follow-up operations of January 7 and November 13, 2015. No student of Islamophobia can fail to be aware of the magisterial work of 9/11 scholar David Ray Griffin, whose series of 13 books on the subject definitively exposes the neoconservative coup d’état that unleashed the Islamophobic demon. Likewise, no serious student of Islamophobia in France should be ignorant of the facts discussed in my two edited books We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo and ANOTHER French False Flag — facts which taken together show that the French government and mainstream media are lying outrageously about the terror events of 2015, which appear to have been 9/11-style false flags à la française.

Wolfreys, a gainfully-employed university lecturer, apparently knows that looking at such facts with honesty and accuracy would likely destroy his career; so he begins his book with the following sentences, “Something was out of kilter. Fifty world leaders had gathered on 11 January 2015 to commemorate the journalists killed in the Charlie Hebdo offices on 7 January and the police officer and shoppers murdered at a kosher supermarket over the following two days.”

Something was, of course, out of kilter; but so is Wolfreys’ opening. First, he mistakenly tells us that the police officer killed during this period died at the kosher supermarket, where he and shoppers were murdered “over the following two days.” In fact the kosher supermarket hostage-taking and shooting incident did not transpire “over two days.” It happened on a single day, January 9. And no police officer was killed there. Yes, one police officer was allegedly killed by kosher supermarket shooter Coulibalay on the previous day, January 8. But this is not the “policeman shooting” that everyone remembers.

Wolfreys completely erases from history the celebrated “policeman shooting” that proves the official story of the Charlie Hebdo event is fraudulent: the alleged shooting of Ahmed Merabet, captured on video — apparently by a pre-positioned Israeli surveillance team — as alleged Charlie Hebdo shooters Saïd and Chérif Kouachi fled the magazine offices after the massacre.

Wikipedia, whose accounts of sensitive topics are controlled by professional propagandists, describe this “shooting” as follows, “An authenticated video surfaced on the internet that shows two gunmen and a police officer, Ahmed Merabet, who is wounded and lying on a sidewalk after an exchange of gunfire. This took place near the corner of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir and Rue Moufle, 180 metres (590 ft) east of the main crime scene. One of the gunmen ran towards the policeman and shouted, ‘Did you want to kill us?’ The policeman answered, ‘No, it’s fine, boss’, and raised his hand toward the gunman, who then gave the policeman a fatal shot to the head at close range.”

The actual video may be viewed here. It clearly shows that no such “fatal shot to the head at close range” was fired. Instead, the “gunman” fires a blank round, consisting of paper or cotton, that impacts on the sidewalk approximately one meter from the head of the “victim.” Had the victim actually been shot with an AK47 from close range, his head would have exploded into pink mist. Yet the “fatal shot” has no impact whatsoever on the victim’s head! Instead, it can be seen raising a small cloud of dust on the sidewalk a meter away from the head — not the massive and hazardous cratering of concrete shrapnel a real bullet would have triggered — showing that it was merely a blank round.

Clearly this “escape scene” was play-acted and filmed for propaganda purposes. French investigative journalist Hicham Hamza has traced the provenance of the leaked video — like the leaked “blood heart” photo of the victims of the 13/11/15 Bataclan nightclub shooting, and the 14/7/16 “truck attack” footage from Nice — to Israel, whose bloody fingerprints are all over these and dozens of other “Islamic terror” public relations stunts.

Why won’t Wolfreys and other mainstream academicians and journalists report these and so many other similarly damning facts? The sad answer was given a century ago by Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

By succumbing to Sinclair’s dilemma, Wolfreys limits the accuracy, comprehensiveness, and relevance of his otherwise solid analysis of French Islamophobia.



If Tariq Ramadan can not get due process, then there is no hope for other Muslims living in France. The case of Professor Tariq Ramadan, who faces rape charges in France, ceased to be a normal case several months ago. The dire treatment of Ramadan has led to an outpouring of support for the accused. Whether it’s because of the lack of due process, the absence of an impartial judicial framework, the skewed media coverage led by the same French media and cultural ‘icons’ who spearheaded smear campaigns against Ramadan over the past two decades, and above all the inhumane treatment – there is every reason to believe now that the case against Ramadan is politically motivated.

From the outset, a string of judicial irregularities occurred including: the complete isolation of Ramadan during the first 45 days of detention without even granting him access to family members; denying him access to his own court records; denying him the right of a presumption of innocence; the court's failure to provide him with appropriate medical treatment as he suffers from multiple-sclerosis according to several medical reports, including that of the prison’s chief-doctor, and the judges’ refusal to question the credibility of the plaintiffs’ shaky version of events.

The first plaintiff‘s case (Henda Ayari) is a flagrant example since she changed her version of the alleged events twice and failed to provide an exact date and place of the alleged rape. In the second case, the plaintiff Paule-Emma A. (designated as Christelle) hasn’t been able to prove any of her allegationsagainst Tariq Ramadan. As for the third case, Mounia Rabbouj, the court dropped the charges against Ramadan after the plaintiff failed to provide credible evidence. 

To make matters worse, the French court continues to dismiss all requests for bail submitted by Ramadan's lawyer, under the pretext that he could either flee abroad or put pressure on plaintiffs and witnesses. These factors cast serious doubt on the credibility of the investigation and the impartiality of the judges in charge of the case. This begs the question, if this is not an attempt of political assassination conducted by the French intelligentsia, judiciary and the state against Ramadan, what could it be then?
Another equally important question is: why Tariq Ramadan? And who stands to benefit from keeping him in detention and thus silencing him?

Why Tariq Ramadan?
Ramadan represents a school of intellectual thought that challenges and dismantles the anti-Islam discourse propagated by the Islamophobic French elite. One of the key characteristics of Ramadan's doctrine is to encourage French and European Muslims to act as full citizens, to question their governments on socioeconomic policies, to refuse injustice and discrimination, and to demand social equality. He also calls on governments to pursue policies of social equality and adopt anti-discrimination laws.

In his book, “Islamic Ethics: A Very Short Introduction”, Ramadan highlights the need to initiate interfaith and intercultural dialogues with regard to common moral values in order to question the role of religion, the state and economy in dealing with issues surrounding social and economic inequality. With the exception of a few fine minds like the prominent French sociologist Edgar Morin or the writer Alain Gresh, French media and the intellectual corpus oscillated between ignoring Ramadan, to publicly questioning his role as a Muslim in the public sphere.  

Those who benefit from keeping Ramadan in detention
For almost two decades now, a number of French politicians and media pundits have tried to undermine Ramadan's discourse by accusing him of ambiguity, demagoguery, doublespeak and anti-Semitism. They have strived to keep his intellectual contribution to the public debate in France limited to only matters pertaining Islam.  

Framed as the ‘Muslim intellectual’ by most French media outlets, the aim being not only to alienate his French audience but also to distort Ramadan’s image and weaken his intellectual credibility and narrative. Apart from the French far right party (Le Front National), which upholds racist and Islamophobic views, the overwhelming majority of those who systematically oppose Ramadan’s ideas, and who regularly carry out smear campaigns against him whenever he takes a stand for the rights of France’s discriminated Muslim citizens or condemn Israeli crimes against Palestinians, happen to be close to pro-Israel circles in France.

They include figures such as Bernard-Henri Levy, Alain Finkielkraut, Eric Zemmour, Frederic Encel, Gilles Kepel, Jean-Pierre Elkabache and many others. Some, like the journalist Caroline Fourest, who for years has been leading a smear campaign against Ramadan, are directly involved in the case against him. Since the beginning of the affair, she has been actively promoting the plaintiffs’ version of events on media platforms.

Another media pundit who played a key role, among others, in demonising Ramadan is the French-Israeli paparazzi journalist Jean-Claude ElFassi who closely collaborates with the French magazine l’Express. He went so far as to threaten the third plaintiff’s brother in the event he provides to the court exculpatory elements in favour of Tariq Ramadan.

It is worth pointing out here that l’Express is among the most widely circulated publications and is owned by French-Israeli Patrick Drahi, also the owner of a media empire, including the Israeli TV channel “i24”, French newspaper “Liberation”, “RMC” radio and “BFM” TV channel. These outlets have relentlessly been promoting the plaintiffs’ allegations and attacking Ramadan.

Accordingly, keeping Ramadan in detention, and therefore silencing him, is serving the very interests of those who for years struggled to shut him out and discredit his reputation among his audience. The reason being; during countless debates, media encounters and interviews, Ramadan was cleverly able to expose their hypocrisy and double standards towards France’s Muslim citizens and the Palestinian cause.

Therefore, Ramadan’s absence allows them to have a free reign to spew their Islamophobic, racist and anti-Palestinian narratives, since Ramadan is almost the only intellectual who dares questioning and dismantling their lies and propaganda. However, the way Ramadan’s case has been handled – or rather mishandled- by the French judiciary will likely have serious consequences for the justice system in France. By embracing, or being influenced by, the anti-Ramadan narrative propagated by the anti-Ramadan lobby, French justice risks losing its credibility.

Ramadan’s case proved that the principle of impartiality, intrinsic to any judicial institution, is at stake in France today due to attempts to politicise the justice system or allowing political considerations to override the need to uphold justice.  This might result in a loss of confidence in how the French justice system operates, in the short, medium and long term, especially among French citizens of Muslim faith. 
Muslims will no doubt wonder, if justice can be withheld for someone so high profile as Tariq Ramadan, what chance do they have?

Is France aware that the case against Ramadan may result in a serious social crisis as a segment of French society, already facing discrimination, may feel that even the justice team may one day work against them. Many could not help but compare Ramadan’s case with that of the two ministers Darmanin and Hulot, both accused of sexual assault and yet remained in office.

Going forward the serious lack of due process in Ramadan’s case opens the door to a dangerous era in French history. In a so-called free democracy, which France prides itself on, the justice system has began to appear flawed and politicised. The court of well funded media campaigns trumps the court of law. A dangerous precedent with far reaching consequences.

Will France be able to put an end to this farce that has become Ramadan’s case? 
The answer to this question depends almost exclusively on the political mindset that runs France today, and that does not seem to be aware of the disastrous long-term social consequences that this affair might leave behind. 


The authorities in France are coming under international pressure over their treatment of Muslim academic and philosopher Tariq Ramadan who is being held in custody pending investigations into a series of allegations pertaining to sexual misconduct. Scores of internationally respected public figures have joined the growing calls for justice for Ramadan, who they fear is being denied fair treatment simply because he is a Muslim. The Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford vehemently denies all of the allegations.

Ramadan, a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, is the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was born in Switzerland in 1962 after his father, a prominent figure in the movement, was exiled by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Could the demonisation of the Brotherhood by allies of France in the Middle East be the reason for the treatment of Tariq Ramadan, or his support for Palestine?

Whatever it might be, the growing campaign in his support asks a simple question: Is there one form of justice for Muslims in France and another for everyone else? The French authorities are being pressed to grant Ramadan his most basic human and civil rights by campaigners, who were boosted this week by a new group of signatories including Professor Noam Chomsky, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Malian Minister Aminata Traoré, historian Joan W Scott, Leila Ahmed of Harvard University, journalist and essayist Michel Warshawski, and, from Switzerland, Jean Ziegler, vice-chairman of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Read: Brother of Tariq Ramadan ‘forced to leave’ France

They are demanding Ramadan’s right to the presumption of innocence, a fair and equitable judicial procedure, and to fair treatment by the French justice system which has treated those accused of near identical crimes in a very different manner. The appeal also emphasises the fact that besides the isolation he has endured for months, Professor Ramadan also suffers from multiple sclerosis and neurological complications for which he continues to be denied appropriate medical treatment.

Just last week, protesters demonstrated outside French embassies around the world calling for his immediate release from prison and his right to due process. There is a growing opinion that Ramadan’s treatment stems largely from the fact that he is a Muslim holding a number of high profile academic positions: he is, for example, a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar and the Université Mundiapolis in Morocco, as well as a senior research fellow at Doshisha University in Japan. He is also the director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha.

Ramadan stands accused of rape by a group of women who came forward at the height of the global #MeToo scandal and has already undergone a public trial by elements of the Islamophobic French media who can’t even get the Swiss-born academic’s nationality right. While most of the Western world view the academic consistently as a liberal scholar — his books back this up — the French authorities and some local journalists seem to think that they’ve captured a Bin Laden-type figure.

The fact that Ramadan flew to France voluntarily and went to the authorities himself is being overlooked in the stampede to vilify him. That was five months ago and his lawyers point out that he is still being denied access to his full legal file. The much-lauded French health sector is failing in its treatment of his multiple sclerosis, they add.

Read: France’s destabilising role in the Middle East

All of this is a far cry from France’s proud boast of being the home of liberté, égalité and fraternité, which might explain why so many leading figures from the world of politics, media, arts and academia have come together to sign an open letter pointing out French double standards over the handling of the Ramadan case.

Defenders of Due Process for Tariq Ramadan (DDPTR) ask for nothing more than justice and fairness for the academic. Nobody is asking for special treatment, favours or bending of the rules for him; nor are they sitting in judgment of his guilt or innocence. I know, because I have also signed up to the campaign, as have people like Ken Loach, Amina Wadud, Professor Emad El-Din Shahin, Dr Sami Al-Arian, Karen Armstrong, Professor Stephen Chan, Hamza Yusuf, Professor Richard Falk and Dr Norman Finkelstein. We all feel that justice is neither being served nor acted upon.

None of us is arrogant enough to assume a magisterial role or usurp the position of the French judiciary, but in the preliminary process for any trial the defendant must surely have their human rights acknowledged and recognised. It is not unreasonable to think that a country still haunted by the vile “justice” of the Algerian Casbah would want to uphold the highest standards of humanity and legal due process.

The reality is that Ramadan’s treatment is very different to that of non-Muslim men facing similar charges. The evidence of this is clear for all to see. Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gérald Darmanin, for example, and Minister for Ecology and Solidarity Transition Nicolas Hulot are the subjects of early investigations into rape and sexual assault allegations by more than one woman. Unlike Ramadan, these two were interviewed briefly and then allowed back into the workplace where they continue to serve in government; there has certainly not been any suspension from duties pending further enquiries at this stage

Consider also the case of Englishman David Matthews, the father-in-law of Pippa Middleton – the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge and sister-in-law of the future king – who has been accused of rape; the victim in question is underage. Matthews is now back in Britain, unlike Ramadan, pending further enquiries.

Like Ramadan, it must be said, all three men vigorously deny the allegations against them. 
No one in France seems to be able to explain why Tariq Ramadan is being treated differently, or why the French authorities have trashed his most basic human rights and, even though he presented himself for questioning voluntarily, denied him bail at the preliminary investigative stage.

Read: Colonialism as a concoction of France, Israel and the PA

I believe that he is being treated differently to Matthews, Darmanin and Hulot simply because he is a Muslim. This highly respected intellectual and academic is most definitely not a serious candidate for jumping bail if for no other reason than that he is so well known that he would have nowhere to run or hide.

Sadly, unless the French authorities know something that the rest of us don’t, it looks as if their justice system has been blinded by an unbridled hatred of religion in general, and Islam in particular. If the authorities refuse to make some serious changes in the way that Ramadan is being treated, we can only conclude that France has two levels of justice: one for white, establishment figures, and the other for Muslims, no matter how cultured, eloquent and European they might be. Every French citizen should be concerned that Professor Ramadan’s lawyers have been forced to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the inhumane treatment meted out to their client at the hands of the judiciary in the Fifth Republic.

Oxford Don or Don Corleone, it doesn’t matter. Tariq Ramadan needs to see France’s liberté, égalité and fraternité in action, or we will be able to say with even more certainty that French justice is seriously flawed, especially if the defendant is a Muslim.


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