by Kevin Barrett (Book Review, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 8, Muharram, 1440)
Republic of Islamophobia by James Wolfreys; Pub: Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2018, 208 pages. Price: $12.72 Pbk.
“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.