Michel Houellebecq accused of « hate against Muslims » by the Great Mosque of Paris

The provocative writer Michel Houellebecq, one of the most famous in France, is accused by the Great Mosque of Paris of having made « very serious remarks » about Muslims in an interview recently granted to a magazine. The Grand Mosque therefore officially lodged a complaint on Wednesday with the Paris public prosecutor, presuming that these remarks represent a « provocation to hatred against Muslims ».

Freedom of expression is constitutionally recognized in France, but this country provides several exceptions to the exercise of this fundamental right. In particular, since 1972 there has been an “offence of public provocation to racial hatred”.

The source of the reaction comes from a long interview between Michel Houellebecq and the philosopher Michel Onfray published by Popular Front in its latest issue. The political commentary magazine, founded in 2020, aims to be opposed to the elites, to President Emmanuel Macron, to economic liberalism and to the European Union, and in favor of a more direct, sovereignist democracy.

The writer says in particular: “When whole territories are under Islamic control, I think that acts of resistance will take place. There will be attacks and shootings in mosques, in cafés frequented by Muslims, in short Bataclans upside down”.

Mr. Houellebecq adds: “The wish of the native French population, as they say, is not for Muslims to assimilate, but for them to stop robbing and attacking them. Or else, another solution, that they go away”.

Complaint specifically cites these “pivotal phrases” in its move against the writer in a statement posted on Twitter. « In a state governed by the rule of law, recourse to a judge is the normal way of debating violations of the law as a citizen, and it is this right that the Grand Mosque of Paris exercises, relying on the case law rendered for all religions,” says the text.

The statement recalls the judgment of 20 December 2022 of the European Court of Human Rights in the « Zemmour case ». The former journalist and candidate for the French presidency challenged a previous conviction of the Paris court to a fine of 3,000 euros for remarks targeting Muslims, made on the set of the TV show It’s up to you in December 2016.

The polemicist had estimated that France had been living « for 30 years an invasion » aimed at « Islamizing a territory » and carrying out « a jihad » there. The sentence for “incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of people because of their origin” was upheld by the European court.

Michel Houellebecq, an assumed misanthrope, has been dissecting the French sociopolitical body with a scalpel for decades, but none of his literary autopsies has pushed catastrophic provocation and nihilistic outrage as much as his last novels. Submission (2015), a satire of anticipation soaked in decadentism, describes a near future (… in 2022) where France elects a Muslim president. Annihilate (2022) continues in the same vein by imagining in 2027 a France where terrorist attacks dominate.

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