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Why Macron had to take on Islamism The French president is now caught between Le Pen and Le Monde

Will it be 'return of the Mac' at next May's election? Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images

Will it be 'return of the Mac' at next May's election? Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images


March 11, 2021   6 mins

In France it has become difficult to have a rational debate about anything to do with Islam or Islamism. The opposing sides accuse one another of hysteria. Often, not always, they have a point. But in recent days, France — chattering, media-political France at any rate — has exploded into a blazing quarrel about a hyphenated word: Islamo-gauchisme or “Islamo-leftism”. What is it? Does it really exist? Is it, as some people say, a threat to the French way of life?

The term was invented 19 years ago by a French academic to describe an alliance between radical Islam and the extreme Left. The word has since been hijacked by the French Right  – both the far right and more traditional conservatives — to mock attempts to combat racism or discrimination against France’s 5,000,000 Muslims.

Islamo-gauchisme certainly exists — as it does in Britain and other countries — as a wilful blindness by part of the radical Left to the violent, anti-western, anti-feminist, anti-Semitic teachings of radical Islam. It also exists, more respectably, as a left-wing voting bloc in multi-racial suburbs. Migrants and their descendants have become a kind of substitute “proletariat” since the white working-class shifted to the right and far right.

It further exists, some academics complain, as a dogmatic and intolerant approach to social and political studies, based on a coalition of French and American theories on race, class, gender and post-colonial oppression.

And yet a part of the French Left remains fiercely secular and worried by the advance of radical or “political” forms of Islam — to the point where other left-wingers accuse them of being (another buzz word) “Islamophobic”. In summary, “Islamo-gauchisme” has become so many things that it has lost much of its meaning, except as a term of abuse.

Last month the universities minister, FrĂ©dĂ©rique Vidal, a mildly left-wing scientist turned politician, ordered an investigation into what she called the “gangrene” of Islamo-leftist ideas in French politics and social science faculties. Her timing was odd. Many people thought that there were far more pressing issues on French campuses — such as how to teach, and feed, students in a time of Covid — and her intervention caused an explosion of anger on the French Left, as well as critical articles in liberal US media. Cue also an accusation by the usually measured Le Monde, that President Emmanuel Macron is “flirting with the far-right.” 

It is a misleading accusation, even unfair. It would be truer to say that Macron has lost control of the political debate surrounding his efforts to contain radical Islam — efforts which have been more ambitious and, in some respects, more successful than any of his predecessors. But politics is about perception. If enough people say that there is a problem — including the mildly left-wing but cautious Le Monde — then there is a problem.

France is just over a year away from a presidential election, which could pair Macron once again with the far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second-round run-off next May. There is already a drum-beat rising on the French Left that Macron and Le Pen are “just the same” and that left-wing voters will, or should, stay at home in the second round this time, possibly letting Le Pen into the ElysĂ©e.

In those circumstances, what, one might ask, is Macron’s electoral interest in angering left-wing voters and chasing a far-right electorate which derides him as a pointy-headed internationalist from the French governing elite?

To confuse the situation further, the latest, much-watched monthly opinion poll by Ifop for Paris Match shows Macron’s support rising on the Left and tumbling on the Right. It appears that French voters know something that Le Monde and the New York Times don’t know.

First some context. The “Islamo-gauchiste” argument rages mostly in the Paris political-media world.  It has had little impact so far in wider France. The same is not true of the larger debate on radical Islam and the secular French state — a debate which Macron chose, rather courageously, to re-open in a speech in the western Paris suburbs five months ago.

A draft law to “reinforce Republican principles” and curb the advance of radical or extremist Islamic ideology is now going through the French Parliament, with text developed in consultation with a representative section of moderate Muslim leaders. It is intended, inter alia, to prevent the spread and foreign financing of violent and intolerant mutations of Islam. It should help the great bulk of law-abiding French Muslims who wish to practise their faith without being bullied by religious extremists or by the French far-Right.

This was a dangerous box for Macron to open but a box that he could not ignore. There had been over 30 Islamist terrorist attacks in France, big and small, since the slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo offices in 2015. There have been two attacks since he made the speech on 2 October, including the beheading two weeks later of a history teacher who had invited his class of 14- year-olds to consider the rights and wrongs of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

On security, race and Islamism, Macron is no revolutionary. He is a French secular traditionalist, sharing neither the identitarian racial politics of the hard right nor the identitarian anti-racist, anti-authoritarian politics of the new or young Left.

He has, however, allowed some of the more right-leaning members of his government — and notably the ambitious, young interior minister, GĂ©rald Darmanin — to stray towards what sounds, or can be made to sound, like a much harder-right-wing viewpoint.

Long before the “islamo-gauchiste” controversy exploded, Macron, Darmanin and the new law on “Republican principles” were being falsely criticised by the French Left and by liberal US commentators as an attack on Islam, not Islamism. Last month Darmanin debated with Le Pen on the proposed law on live prime time TV. The interior minister defended Islam as a “great faith” and eloquently dismissed calls from Le Pen and some centre-right and even Macronist politicians for a ban on the hijab or Muslim headscarf on French streets.

That is now forgotten. All that is recalled of the 70-minute debate is a single word, in a passage towards the end, when Darmanin accused Le Pen of going “soft” on Islamism.  If you watched the entire debate, it was apparent that Darmanin was mocking Le Pen for claiming hypocritically to defend “Islam and all religions” while her party remains virulently Islamophobic (systematically opposing the building of mosques for instance).

Was Darmanin trying to be too clever? Was he trying to appear simultaneously liberal and tougher-than-Le Pen on the Lepennist subject par excellence? Probably. At any rate, his ambiguous remarks were ill-conceived and have done his boss, Macron, damage in the current hysterical ambience on Islam and Islamism in France.

And then up stepped FrĂ©dĂ©rique Vidal, a brilliant bio-chemist who proved, until now, to be a rather obscure universities minister. She has been accused of starting a McCarthyist witch-hunt into Left-leaning and foreign (i.e. American) ideas on not just “islamo-gauchisme” but all gender and race theory — “woke” ideas, as Anglophones call them.

Ms Vidal says this is not a witch-hunt but a fact-finding mission. The ElysĂ©e criticised her comments — but then did nothing, and Le Monde has since carried several multi-signature articles from French academics and politicians, either defending the minister or demanding her head.

Some of the academics reject all suggestion that “islamo-gauchisme” exists. Others — including one of the most respected French Islamic scholars, Giles Kepel and the philosopher Pierre-AndrĂ© Taguieff, the man who invented the term in 2002 — say that the phenomenon exists but the word has become valueless.

In an article in Le Monde, Kepel, Taguieff and a score of other academics claimed that it was now difficult to obtain research work or speaking time at French universities if you challenge the dominant academic viewpoint on race, gender and post-colonial theories.

As the inventor of the word “islamo-gauchisme”, Mr Taguieff  is worth listing to. Everyone in French politics or academia, he says, now risks being labelled as an “islamophobe” or an “islamo-gauchiste”.

“This opposition is falsely simple,” he wrote last October. “Very many French people, both on the Right and the Left, see Islamism in all its forms as a great threat to our national unity. Are they all Islamophobes? This is a confusion deliberately fostered by the Islamists themselves.”

Taguieff also dismises crisply one of the objections, raised by American critics, to the term “islamo-gauchisme”: that it recycles the far-Right and Nazi term “Judeo-Bolshevik” used in the 1920s and 1930s.

“That term was a means of alleging that Bolshevism was a Jewish phenomenon and that all Bolsheviks were Jews,” Taguieff said. “It is absurd to suggest that the term Islamo-gauchisme means all leftists are Muslims and that left-wing politics are a Muslim phenomenon.”

One thing the “islamo-gauchisme”  row proves is that Macron was wrong in 2017 when he claimed that he had made the Right-Left opposition obsolete. Four years later, France — media and political France at any rate — still mostly  thinks in Right-Left terms (even if they are re-branded as Islamophobic v Islamo-gauchist). Even Macron’s own centrist party, La RĂ©publique en Marche divides on this issue roughly according to whether they are ex-Left or ex-Right.

The whole debate may seem to be harmless to some senior Macron senior supporters from the centre-Right — even potentially a vote-gainer. That’s a dangerous argument.

The election will be decided by Covid and by the economy more than Islamism or Islamo-gauchisme. But Macron cannot afford to be branded as hard right (whatever the recent polls show); he needs to restate the balanced approach he took in his speech on 2 October, which also promised action to end the systematic marginalisation of racial and religious minorities in France. “Typical Macron”, his critics said at the time: lots of en mĂȘme temps — on the one hand, on the other hand.

That’s unfair. In his approach to Islamism, Marcon has (or once had) a reasonable tale to tell. His non-ideological, pragmatic approach has gone much further than the ideologically-constrained attempts of previous governments of Right or Left. His law on Republican values is going through Parliament, and so are three initiatives to boost the economy of the banlieue and to curb discrimination — distinctly non-Lepennist actions which are scarcely mentioned by either French or American left-wing commentators.

Far from a deliberate flirtation with the far-Right, as Le Monde suggests, the muddled debate on Islamism is more a symptom of a new Macronist tendency to drift, a failing also seen with his approach to Covid. A young president who promised to go beyond Left and Right instead heads into his re-election campaign going nowhere.


John Lichfield was Paris correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.

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Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago

Migrants and their descendants have become a kind of substitute “proletariat” since the white working-class shifted to the right and far right.

The white working class has not shifted anywhere; it remained put where it has always stood. It’s the political milieu around it what shifted so leftward that it makes the wwc appear to the right – an optical illusion. And a global underclass had to be imported to fill the “underdog”-shaped hole in the new political/ideological landscape.
And not only in France.

Last edited 3 years ago by Allons Enfants
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Yes yes yes this. I had the same reaction to that passage. The working class is NOT far right – but pushing a whole demographic to one side in favour of an incoming one – especially with values so at odds with theirs – is a justifiable reason for discontent.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Here too.

sharon johnson
sharon johnson
3 years ago

I don’t understand how Islam can be seen as a positive in any country. It’s tenets contradict every aspect of western law and society.

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago
Reply to  sharon johnson

Interestingly, Sharon, you use Islam rather than the word favoured by the author, Islamism. I suppose he is trying to say – in the approved fashion – Islam is fine but Islamism is not. But like you, I can`t see how Islam would be positive for the average non-Muslim inhabitant of a non-Muslim country.

sharon johnson
sharon johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

A couple of years ago a taxi pulled up two blocks from our house and two robed women climbed out. Only their eyes and hands were free of black cloth. They carried shopping bags and disappeared into an apartment building. I have never seen them since. To me they represent a nightmare enslavement to ignorance and cruelty. I can find no logical reason to support such an odious ‘religion’. (I live in the San Francisco Bay area.)

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  sharon johnson

Even if they are enslaved, and I agree that their lives and the authority over their lives, is horrendous, I do not think we can use that as a reason to deny them religious freedom. Of course, because they hold mutually exclusive views, only one of the belief systems can be right (and I include atheism as a belief system). I think we must allow religious freedom and try to prevent harmful extremism.
I am not sure why religious views are invariably politicised. For example, it seems to m,e that in the USA where you write from, most evangelical Christians are politically on the right. In the UK evangelical Christians cross the political spectrum. Also I do not understand why believers of any faith can be far to either left or right. For example, unless a Christian assumes that all the poor deserve to be so (an unbiblical position), how can that believer be on the extreme right?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Evangelical Christians cross the political spectrum in the US as well. I understand the media doesn’t like to say this though so it’s easy to be misled.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

So glad to hear that!

VĂłreios ParatiritĂ­s
VĂłreios ParatiritĂ­s
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

The issue is that since the liberal triumph over The Church since the French Revolution, western elites and institutions have lost their understanding of religion and their ability to categorize and see it properly.
Is Islam a religion? It says it is a religion. But does it behave like a religion? Do its believers behave religiously? We have not even begun to ask the right questions.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

I am simply assessing the faiths according to their scriptures. How do you define a religion?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

It is interesting that you have an idea of what ‘behaving like a religion’ typically consists of. See Tom Holland’s convincing arguments regarding ‘religion’ versus ‘secularism’ as separate spheres. These concepts essentially arose and are deep rooted only in Western Christendom. They were exported by Western expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries to our civilisations where the distinction doesn’t really exist, or at least if it now does to a limited extent with modern type governments only in a limited and shallow way. Until the domination of the British in India for example the identification of a separate religious sphere called ‘Hinduism’ would have made little sense.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

All I care about is that I don’t want them in the West spreading this cr*p. I don’t want Europe to become like the Middle East. That might sound hateful, maybe it is, but I cannot think of anything worse than going down the path of regressive theocratic domination. Our European societies fought long and hard against our own version, why would we want to let another version loose????

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Our European societies fought long and hard against our own version, why would we want to let another version loose????
Yep, how true. Anyone who says they are against all religions is at least being consistent.
The position of people who are for their own religion and against others is understandable too, if not ideal. People who believe all religions should be tolerated are nice people.
But the unbelievable thing we have in Europe now is genuine European people, often brought up as Christians, who have no time for Christianity yet squawk Islamophobia at the slightest criticism of Islam and/or Muslims.
It`s very akin to French collaboration during the German occupation of WW2.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Yes, it is entirely safe to attack and mock Christianity – but you need to be a bit braver to do so against aspects of Islam, as Charlie Hebdo showed.

I’m not French but Islamo-gauchisme seems very like the Anglo American ‘woke’ position on every issue where their own societies and history and are endlessly attacked with venom and hatred, while non Western actors are treated with nauseating ‘respect’ – however many gay people they hang, for example!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I don’t know what you mean by ‘our own version’ but I am in total agreement that it would be a regressive step to become like the ME.

Aisha Akhtar
Aisha Akhtar
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Neither do I and I say this as a Muslim. It is not hateful, it is entirely understandable. Europe has its own history and culture – so too, does the Middle East. Islam has destroyed a lot of the beautiful culture there and it appears it will do the same here too, aided by the radical left and the woke crowd. I live in the UK and I love it here precisely because it is NOT a Muslim country and nobody gives two hoots about whether my ankles or my wrists are too beautiful to be seen by the general public.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Aisha Akhtar

Sadly, Britain has been destroying its own culture for decades.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

“Even if they are enslaved” ….“I do not think we can use that as a reason to deny them religious freedom”
You assume an equivalence of cultures

I do not agree on equality between cultures. I also assert that there exists no necessary connection between culture and race. Let’s take an example outside of the current debate. The culture of the American Indian was brutal, primitive, bloody, cruel, and pagan. There was nothing about it to admire, and there was no way it could co-exist with Western culture once Europeans discovered the New World. Those who feign to admire the Indian culture today have constructed a mythical noble savage. They would not have lived four hours next to an actual Sioux tribe in 1840. But none of that hasanything to do with the DNA of the American Indian. They didn’t torture a man to death over five days and then ritualistically eat his heart because of genetics, it was because of culture.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

I’m not sure the relevance of this comment. There is in my view quite a lot to admire in the Native American ways of life, not of course that they were all the same. Certainly if you believe in men being brought up to be men! A lot of whites did in fact grow up in Indian tribes and there are examples where they didn’t wish to return. Cruelty existed of course, but that human attribute appears to exist unfortunately among every human society we know of.

The whites won in North America because they had the guns and numbers and in particular destroyed the bison herds, not because they were on any objective grounds morally superior. The US government at times used extreme brutality even against settled Indian tribes, such as the ‘Trail of Tears’ forced relocations in the 1840s. We’re quite happy to call the forced migrations and consequent deaths of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a genocide; there seems little difference to me. Westerners have historically been as brutal as anyone as the 30 Years War and the 20th century among many others show.

George Stone
George Stone
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

What are you saying? Atheism is a rejection of the belief in god or gods. It is not a belief. Wake up please.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  George Stone

It is a belief that there is no God and usually has other beliefs integral with it, for example scientism.

Robbie PPC
Robbie PPC
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

“I do not think we can use that as a reason to deny them religious freedom.”

As you will but be aware that your tolerance of their intolerance does not compel them to in return become tolerant towards you and other non-muslims. Indeed, in showing tolerance to Islam you are complicit in the creation of a societal ratchet that will slowly eradicate your and our rights while extending theirs and their cruel and inhuman Sharia

Be also aware that Islam is not being’politicised’ but was political from its beginning: it is extremist politics with a god and all its apparatus exists to create and extend a form of oppressive essentially fascist government that is meant to govern everybody, Muslim and infidel, and in a fully-established Muslim polity it is policed with lethal violence.

Do not forget that in an Islamic polity the Sharia is indivisible.

Last edited 3 years ago by Robbie PPC
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robbie PPC

Yes, I understand that the radical islamists are those taking the earliest manuscripts supposedly dictated to Mohamed most literally but I also think that many Muslims are not following those and not proposing lethal violence. The late Nabeel Qureshi explained this well in his book, ‘Answering Jihad.’
However, I also think that it would not make sense to allow some extremists to effectively deny our religious freedom. At the same time we must be alert to the need to oppose Sharia law.

sharon johnson
sharon johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

People can think what they want. It’s their actions that count. And when those actions include enslavement that’s where I draw the line.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

Indeed, even most Muslims don’t seem to like actually having to live under Islam, which is presumably why so many of them want to come and live amongst us infidels in the decadent west.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

I would happily welcome them – but I am not sure it is true. There are way too many here hell bent on turning the West into a theocratic hell hole like the one they came from and numbers are growing and growing. I cannot think of any worse fate for our society. Islam already has way too much power. It asserts itself regularly to cow journalists, cartoonists and others into submission – by the sword at the extreme end. That is a foundational attack on our values and must be resisted.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  sharon johnson

Your objection is to to the 7th Century.

G Worker
G Worker
3 years ago

Why is the writer of this article constantly referring to French nationalists by the political idiot’s boo-word “far right”. How can it be “far” anything for genuine Frenchmen to defend their own kind from the decades of attacks by the political class, and from replacement and dissolution by a politically engineered colonisation from Africa?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  G Worker

Why is the writer of this article constantly referring to French nationalists by the political idiot’s boo-word “far right”.
that’s been the tactic all along. Any critic of the religion of peace is maligned in the same manner.

G Worker
G Worker
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But now it’s time for people like the author to be honest and address the existential crisis that has been created for all the European peoples. This demonisation of resistance to our own replacement has to end. I only hope that John Lichfield bothers to read the comments to his article and has the heart and decency to question his cowardice.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  G Worker

Are we even allowed to use the word “replacement” without being deemed far right conspiracy theorists?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I don’t even know what far right means anymore. It seems to be that left = good, and right = bad, and bad = far right.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago
Reply to  G Worker

Because he is dripping wet lefty who spent yonks at The Independent.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

We learned just last week that the killing of the teacher was based on a lie by a teenaged girl. The writer does not mention this.
That aside, this article tells us little we don’t already know, acting largely as an account of which deranged academic or dleluded politician said what in response to a belief system that will, ultimately, devour them all.
Nor does it really answer the premise of the headline. The fact is that w Macron had to ‘take on’ Islamism because were he not to do so, Le Pen would probably win the presidency.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Neither this article mentions last month’s dissolution of Generation Identitaire – a meticulously, painstakingly peaceful protest movement – by Darmanin, whom the article calls “right leaning”.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Like most journalists, John Lichfield defines as ‘right leaning’ or ‘far right’ etc anyone who does not share the same beliefs as Corbyn, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Diane Abbott, David Lammy etc.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Banned as neo-fascist, apparently.

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Unherd’s coverage of France has remain very poor in quality compared to its analysis of British society.

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago

Living in France, I feel that a few clarifications are needed:
Le Monde might be midly left on economic issues but it has totally succumbed to the Woke frenzy on issues related to national identity, just like the BBC.
If the elections were to be decided by Covid and by the economy more than Islamism or Islamo-gauchisme, then what explains the relentless rise of the Rassemblement National and Marine Le Pen who is considered by many in France as being economically incompetent?
Finally, Macron is NOT taking on Islamism. His actions and antics are just for the show. If he was serious about his willingness to curb the progression of radical Islam, he would reform France’s lax and color-blind immigration laws. In many ways, Macron represents the quintessential French liberal, an empty suit with no visions other than reacting to opinion polls and surveys. Since the late 70s, France has been experiencing a slow but relentless decline and no policies put forward by Macron will reverse that trend.
There is no ideological difference between Islam and Islamism. From its inception, Islam has been designed to be a complete ideology regulating every aspect of life. Also, in a liberal democracy that values freedom of speech, it is perfectly fine to attack Islam itself. It is a sad state to realize that Europe fought hard to free itself from christian theocracy only to kneel in front of Islam. Western Seculars took no gloves to attack the christian faith and it’s only fair that islam faces the same treatment. I would even argue that given Islam’s current intellectual misery, it needs to be attacked, for its own good.
The debate goes well beyond the alledged “peacefulness” of French Muslims. The real issue is about France’s gradual transformation into a multicultural society like Canada, an evolution that was never sanctionned by the majority of French people.

Last edited 3 years ago by Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Yes, it is impossible to disagree with a single word of your post.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago

“The real issue is about France’s gradual transformation into a multicultural society like Canada, an evolution that was never sanctionned by the majority of French people.”
The same goes for the UK. We’ve been conditioned into not questioning it.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
3 years ago

It would be useful if the author could set out what differentiates ‘Islam’ from ‘Islamism’. The whole history of Islam from its very inception fits what we today categorise as ‘Islamism’. The non-activism of the Muslim majority in the West does nothing to contradict this, and they are vastly outnumbered by those in Islamic countries whose attitudes and behaviours would fit the Islamist model.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

My thoughts exactly

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

Islamism is Islamic fundamentalism notably practiced by jihadi. France differentiates between Islam, the mainstream religion which is respected by the state in the same way as is any other religion, and Islamism which Macron calls Political Islam and associates with separatism. Islamists do not recognise European values which diverge from the basic tenets of Islam; in other words they do not accept the authority of the French state and its separation of church and state..

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

In France it has become difficult to have a rational debate about anything to do with Islam or Islamism. 
this is not new and it is hardly confined to France. The West at large, at least its leftist centers, have been preventing such debate for years now. After 9/11, we were cautioned about potential outbreaks of “Islamophobia” that have never happened. Attacks on Jews remain atop the ‘hate crime’ leader board and by quite a margin. The next closest competitor is hoaxes that allegedly involved black victims.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I still don’t see why you label this as ‘leftist’. I think you are saying, “I am Right. Left is bad. So anything bad must be leftist.
In the UK, all mainstream sources say the same thing, I personally have never met anybody who is totally anti-Islam. I do see a different view on UnHerd, which is a little extreme and not really very important in the greater scheme of things.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s not bad/good. I’m not making a value judgment, just pointing to reality in the US. The voices that call out radical Islam are overwhelmingly from the right; the ones that obfuscate are from the left.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I would say the predominant view is the opposite. As Ricky Gervais said ‘anyone mildly conservative on Twitter is Hitler’ and in the MSM this trope is just as true – Trump Derangement Syndrome really showed this up in the USA and Brexit Derangement did the same in the UK. For me the issue is clear. Has the growing influence of Islam in the West been positive or negative? It is hard to argue anything but the latter and therefore it would be politically expedient for politicians to deal with it honestly, before the public does so without them.

Robin Williamson
Robin Williamson
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You’ve never met anybody who is totally anti-islam? You really should get out more. And try opening your eyes and ears as well.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Shouldn’t Macron have seen this coming though? Rather than “take it on” why not prevent it from happening in the first place? Same question to Merkel btw.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

it was too late to take it on by the time Macron came to power.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Good point. But why now, it’s not like the violence hasn’t been on-going throughout his administration?

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Why now? Because he is danger of losing the presidency to Le Pen.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well, that makes sense. You’d have thought the on-going violence throughout would have been a clue though.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s never too late surely???

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

“That term was a means of alleging that Bolshevism was a Jewish phenomenon and that all Bolsheviks were Jews,” Taguieff said. “It is absurd to suggest that the term Islamo-gauchisme means all leftists are Muslims and that left-wing politics are a Muslim phenomenon.”
I think what Taguieff says is wrong on the use of the word Judeo-Bolshevik– perhaps deliberately, to advance his argument. It`s more likely it was often used to mean many key Bolsheviks were Jewish, or the movement was heavily influenced by Jews – a rather weaker proposition that saying all.
This is a common and dishonest trick in arguing – to imply someone is saying all when all is easily disprovable. Worth looking out for!

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

It`s more likely it was often used to mean many key Bolsheviks were Jewish, or the movement was heavily influenced by Jews 

Indeed – and i would say it’s rather that Jews were heavily influenced by Bolshevism, rather than the other way around. It’s a fact that many key bolshies were Jewish (well, still are), but nobody ever mentions that many more Jews were (and still are) anti-bolshevik / anti-communist (and many died for it. The USSR’s own holocaust was long-drawn-out, deadly, and is never talked-about.)
(edit / apparently the word – starting with bl and ending with y – which describes what my finger would look if i cut it, is censored for some reason, so i had to replace it with ‘deadly’)

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

The term was invented 19 years ago by a French academic to describe an alliance between radical Islam and the extreme Left.
What I don’t understand is why people think that the Right, Left and Centre have different views on this subject. It might have started on the Left but in the UK it spread quickly across the whole spectrum of politics. Now I don’t see it as one side or another.
The answer to all of these issues is that people should use their vote – the one they have fought for in the past.
We have an election coming in May in Wales. The politicians are amateurish. One said recently that if Boris Johnson wanted to show commitment to Wales, he should learn the Welsh language. Many people have commented how stupid this statement is. Many say how bad the politicians are. About 40% will vote.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes, the appallingly low standards of politicians is something that many of us have been highlighting for some time. It’s bad enough at the national and international levels, but when you get down to the level of the Welsh and Scottish assemblies it becomes truly grotesque.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

What I don’t understand is why people think that the Right, Left and Centre have different views on this subject.
Really? I can’t speak for the UK, but the West is full of people who see any criticism of Islam as a hate crime. The apologists come out of the woodwork after any terrorist attack, ironically to warn about the pitfalls of blanket judgments of groups while they do that very thing re: “the right.”

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I agree. I believe in religious freedom but not expressing faith in damaging and harmful ways. (As I wrote above, only one of the world belief systems can be right, and I include atheism, because they have mutually exclusive views.
I don’t understand the use of the word phobic, meaning ‘hate’, to describe any opinion with which we disagree or any person we think does things that are wrong.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

It is politically expedient

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

“Phobic” is a rhetorical device, used to discredit the person on whom it is used. If you say “only women get pregnant,” you are somehow transphobic, very similar to how “denier” is used in the climate debate. Ironically, the term ensures the absence of actual debate.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Is it ironic? The absence of actual debate is the object of one of the parties involved.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But that does not answer what I said.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You said you don’t understand why people think left/center/right have different views on the matter. They sure do in the US and it appears that’s also the case in France. Macros in reacting to some unpleasant reality which LePen has been talking about for a long time.
If we’re talking about an alliance between radical Islam and any part of the Western political structure, that alliance is only found on the left in the States.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

But isn’t that just the problem – political homogeneity across left and right – as if the debate is already over and the Islamists have already won?

Possession Friend .uk
Possession Friend .uk
3 years ago

Its a problem in other countries too. Only reason France has WOKEn ( pun, intended ) up to it is because of political competitiveness.
Same exists in Britain, only the competition is, whoever mentions Islam or Muslim’s first gets called racist !

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
3 years ago

A recent poll put Macron’s lead over Marine Le Pen at 4% and fears are being put about that if the Left abstains at the next election, she could win.
There’s a bit of “they would say that” to this prospect but it’s clear the French haven’t yet found what they are looking for in their politics since the Mitterand presidency; Lepenism is steadily making up ground.
In 2002, Jacques Chirac beat Le Pen pĂšre 80-20 with the votes of the Left for which it complained it got nothing in return. In 2017 Macron defeated Marine Le Pen 65-35. The elections obliterated the mainstream “Gaullist” Right and Socialist Party Left. Neither has recovered.
The evidence is that the French are gradually overcoming the sedulously promoted taboo against voting for the National Front, now called the Rassemblement National and more sophisticated than its predecessor. It’s now possible to vote Le Pen with a clear conscience.
There’s no denying that Islamism is a problem in France whose Muslim population of three million is the largest in Europe.
Macron’s law on republican values will enforce rules for the preaching of Islam that weed out extremist imams and give the government educational hegemony. It does not tackle the crisis in the banlieues where there are an estimated 800 no go areas free of the State’s writ.
There are an estimated 35,000 known Islamists or upholders of what Macron calls political Islamism which seeks separation within France. What is not known is the proportion of ostensibly law-abiding Muslims who passively share the aims of active Islamists. Are they in the thousands or hundreds of thousands?
Islamo-gauchisme arises from the alliance between the hard Left and Islamists and opposition to it is readily observable in the comments posted by newspaper readers. But popular suspicion of immigration extends also to the image of Islam in France.
People believe for instance that the true extent of Muslim crime is hidden by politicians and the media. Since they regard the Parisian establishment as complicit, they become susceptible to what Marine is selling.
Macron promised much – in a fashion reminiscent of Blair’s chimerical Third Way – and delivered little.
The future is so indecipherable that the Greens, who won control of eight of France’s biggest cities last year, think they can have a good shot at the presidency themselves next year.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Pierre Pendre

Also known as the “Red–green–brown alliance” – see Wikipedia.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Look at what just happened in the US…. If Le Pen could win an election she’d be attacked by the whole western leftist cabal as well as the franco-islamist bloc. If she was doing well before the next election fraud and vote rigging would be deployed to prevent her victory. Unless she doesn’t share Trump’s naive and trusting nature, then she could make damn sure all votes are in person with photo ID.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Apparently they have pretty much banned postal voting in France, so she might have a chance.

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

Looking at the lazy use of far right, hard right blah blah blah, I hope it is not unfair to Mr. Lichfield to once more use that tried, trusted and easily alterable formula and say-
“You can take the journalist out of the Guardian, but you can`t take the Guardian out of the journalist”.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

To be fair, Lichfield was with The Independent, which was a very good newspaper for the first 10 or so years of existence but became, arguably, even more insane than The Guardian circa 2002, which is when I stopped buying it (and I bought it every day).
The Guardian, of course, subsequently became even more insane than The Independent, so I stopped buying in 2010 and no longer even look at it online for free, so repulsive and deceitful has it become.

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Lichfield was a correspondent for The Spectator in the early 1990s and wrote a critical study on Mitterand in that period.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Platzer
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The Independent, which was a very good newspaper for the first 10 or so years of existence but became, arguably, even more insane than The Guardian circa 2002, 

That’s precisely what my other half says; that the Indy was a very decent paper at the beginning. Until it wasn’t.
I used to buy the Guardian in the late 90s, but after a few months i chucked it at the wall when it dawned on me that all the weekly lyrical waxing about the Vagina Monologues were not at all parodical but in fact straighfaced and honest. Changed to the Sunday Times, until i got bored with that too.
Still trolling the Grun online sometimes; they keep asking me how’s the weather in Moscow.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 years ago

France opened the doors wide in the 1980s, if not earlier. “Touche pas Ă  mon pote”- as PS backed movement designed to label Moslems as left-wing secularists- obscured the fact pointed out that below that the political culture imported to France via Islam is at loggerheads in nearly every conceivable register with French inherited values-Catholic, Protestant, and laique. I don’t agree with Covid and the economy will be determinant-the whole boilding pot of French politics will be determinant.

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

I think the males started coming over in the 1960s but they behaved so appallingly that the self-styled aristocrat “Giscard D’Estaing” allowed their families in during the 1970s in the misguided belief that it would curb their behaviour – he lived to regret that and acknowledged as much before the died.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

Irving Janis. “Victims of Groupthink”. 1972
“I use the term ‘groupthink’ ….. a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action. Groupthink is (an Orwellian term). Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgement”
An idea starts on the Left, the Right joins in to look clever as well. The Centre is missed out. Vote, vote, vote.

Weyland Smith
Weyland Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t see how issues like Islamism could be resolved through voting for a party at e.g., general elections. As you said above, this has spread across Left, Right and Centre. The only way to start the debate, in my opinion, is through something akin to the Brexit referendum. I doubt the political classes will ever make the same mistake of asking a direct question, and promising to treat the result as an instruction.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Weyland Smith

My view is that if large numbers of people vote it will allow local politicians (individual MPs) to take stances to support the particular concerns in their constituencies. The first time will not make a difference but the second time will make changes.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

With the possible exception of getting Brexit done, it is many years since MPs have had any interest in responding to concerns of their constituents. And this applies doubly in countries like France.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Weyland Smith

This would be the way to do it – but any party that stands on a platform of being anti Islam (in the UK anyway), is going to be marginalised and anyone who admits voting for them will be deemed a dangerous ‘far right’ actor so anything resembling a discussion simply isn’t possible anymore – or not in a way that can have much impact anyway.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

That’s why we need PR – so those parties actually have a chance.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Protection of freedom of thought requires that no group should be permitted by law to express an opinion. For when a group starts having opinions it inevitably tends to impose them on its members. Intelligence is defeated as soon as the expression of one’s thought is preceded, explicitly or implicitly, by the little word ‘we’’. Simone Weil 1939.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago

Why anyone with both feet on the ground would pay any attention to “liberal US commentators” is beyond me. It is like looking for meaning in an expression of bowel gas.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago

“… the identitarian anti-racist, anti-authoritarian politics of the new or young Left.”
French politics must be very different from the version we have this side of le Manche. Over here, with a strong American influence, the young new left is racist in the guise of anti-racism, and thoroughly authoritarian in its demands to censor anyone taking an opposing view.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago

Here’s the Grun’s own take on the same matter:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/12/academics-french-republic-macron-islamo-leftism
In comparison, Lichfield’s piece sounds almost balanced.