RICHARD PRASQUIER: RADICAL ISLAM AND NAZISM
Richard Prasquier: Radical Islamism and Nazism
Following a worrying rise of anti-Semitism and terrorist threats against Jews in France, the president of the French Jewish community umbrella organization CRIF, Richard Prasquier, has drawn a parallel between what he termed ‘radical Islamism’ and Nazism. In an op-ed published in the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’, Prasquier warned against indulgence toward terrorist movements whose ideology was similar to that of the Nazis. “Radical Islamism refers to a worldview in which the work of the Divinity has to be carried out by annihilating the enemies,” he wrote.
Le Monde, 17 October 2012
Being indulgent towards radical Islamism is being indulgent towards Nazism.” This declaration made in front of the Elysée Presidential Palace was premeditated and intended to raise awareness. It was not an emotional statement. However, the meeting with the French President took place after the police had arrested a network comprising many new converts to Islam and terrorism.
While we were reassured by the determination of government authorities, the meeting was also very worrying. It gave a glimpse of the probability in our country of other networks, still dormant for the moment, which are being created or trained, composed of amateurs devoted to their own death, dreaming of massacres to provide them with meaning to their life and a passport to untold delights in another world. Words are weighted by the halo of their history.
The comparison between Nazism and radical Islamism shocked some survivors because they lived through the Nazi era, when Jews were hunted and assassinated en masse. They rightly believe that it is indecent to compare this with today’s situation. Several of them know that my own life was built up in that particular shadow, and they know how much I hate anything that smacks of toning down or stupid analogies.
But we are not talking here about crimes committed. Nazi crimes have not been exceeded in the history of humanity. We are talking about doctrine, about these “isms” that organized the direction and behavior of human groups in the last century, often to the detriment of common humanity. This is about ideology.
It should be clearly emphasized that to speak of radical Islamism is not to speak of Islam, nor is it to speak of Islamism, which in France is understood to refer to political Islam. Political Islam is a worldview which can be strongly attacked by those who do not accept the confusion between the sacred and the profane under a single political cover, whatever religious label it bears. But radical Islamism refers to a worldview in which the work of the Divinity has to be carried out by annihilating the enemies.
Experts on Islam discuss the appropriate term and some prefer to use Jihadist Salafism. Since I am not a specialist, and am wary of the different possible meanings of the word Salafism, I prefer to talk of “radical Islamism”. But the reality that creates it is fairly readily perceptible if we are ready to undertake an unblinkered analysis. It is vital to measure the danger it represents and to stop playing with niceties of definitions.
Between Nazism and radical Islamism, there are two obvious points in common. One is the place of the Jew as enemy number one, and the other is the dehumanization of this enemy. For the first point, there was too much linguistic prudery in not wanting to attribute the term “anti-Semitism” to an apocalyptic hatred of the Jews, so well expressed in Article 7 of the Hamas Charter (“when the time arrives, each Muslim will kill his Jew, …”)
Since Arabs are themselves linguistically Semites, they supposedly could not be anti-Semite… as if Mr. Marr who invented the term near the end of the 19th century, was thinking of anyone other than Jews when he began its use, with the success we know only too well! Today, the fact is that anti-Semitism forms an essential part (P.A. Taguieff calls it the Sixth Commandment) of the ideology of radical Islamism, as it was of Nazism. We advise skeptics to look at the Memri or other observatories of the Muslim world.
But the dehumanization of the “other” is perhaps an even more significant resemblance. For the Nazis, Jews were cockroaches, rats, lice or large bacteria. For radical Islamists, Jews and Christians are bastard offspring of monkeys, pigs, donkeys or dogs. Experts discuss (!) the different terms, and it could be argued that there is a certain progression in the animal hierarchy, but the message is identical: the enemy is human in appearance only. True knowledge consists in seeing his totally bestial nature beneath the superficial mask.
Primo Levi wrote unforgettable pages on the process of dehumanization by Nazis. The zoology of hatred is at work daily in the preaching of radical Islamism. Declaring one’s enemy not to be human is obviously authorizing his killing, with no qualms. Worse still, this allows the killing of children, a genuine initiation step. Himmler often spoke of the difficult work of the SS faced with Jews that an ignorant person might mistake for human beings. Mohammed Merah fired point blank at the head of a four year old child, like Nazis threw babies head first against trees to save ammunition.
Mohamed Merah was proud enough to film his murders. These unbearable images very nearly circulated freely on the Internet. One can be sure that, far from triggering horror, the images would have created vocations for murderers. Does an ideology that refers to the Divinity have fewer scruples about publicizing its crimes than an ideology based on the superman with no reference to the afterlife, or is it just technological progress? It has little importance in the end. Remorse is not part of the moral fiber of killers indoctrinated by Nazism or radical Islamism.
It is probable that historical links exist between the two doctrines. Today, historians emphasize the extent of the connections, sympathies and sometimes complicities which, even leaving aside the emblematic figure of Hadj Amin al Husseini, the late mufti of Jerusalem, linked the Nazis to the Islamic political movements of the time, whether religious or not. These movements developed, moreover, in a context of animosity against Western colonization. In addition, the existence of the State of Israel supplied the radicalization with a useful goad to unite hostilities and hatred of diverse origins. Nazi ideology itself covered a multitude of different resentments.
The boundaries between the different aspects of Islamism are unclear. Who can say that Qotb only influences the Muslim Brotherhood and not the Salafists? But an ideology of radical Islamism certainly does exist and it is an ideology of murderers for the glory of Allah.
The influence of this ideology is far from decreasing. There can be no possible compromise with it. It announces its objectives even more clearly than the Nazis announced theirs. Just like in the Nazi era, there are calls for “understanding” and indulgence.
Since we have learnt the dangers from history, we would be even guiltier than our predecessors if we persisted in our blindness.
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