What were the 250 signatories of the French manifesto smoking?

In a manifesto published on April 22, about 250 (some claim 300) French personalities in various fields of endeavour, politicians and celebrities in the entertainment world, as well as, three imams and one Mufti, condemned what they called “the quiet ethnic purging”  in France, driven by rising Islamist radicalism.

The manifesto states that French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens; notes that more than 50,000 Jews have been forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities [and neighbourhoods], and their children could no longer go to school.

More specifically, the signatories  demand that  Islam of France open the path [to fight anti-Semitism] by having the Muslim theological authorities  declare  that the verses of the Koran that call for the killing and  punishment of Jews, Christians and non-believers  are /have become obsolete,  just as  did the inconsistencies in the Biblical texts and Vatican  II  abolished  Catholic antisemitism, so that the [ radical] Muslims will no longer be able to invoke or rely upon  a sacred text to justify  the crime he or she is about to commit or has committed.(Translation  with stylistic editing mine). The manifesto also accuses the media of remaining silent on this matter.

Curiously enough,  the manifesto omits reference to the sacred verses  that prescribe the killing and punishment of, among others, the infidels who practice religions other than Judaism and Christian religions; the homosexual  and  the lapsed Muslims as well as Muslims who convert to another religion. It may well be that the signatories did not think this was the right occasion to mention them because it would detract the focus from crimes committed against Jews and Christians by reason of their religion.

The manifesto describes antisemitism as a democratic failure and the signatories demand that the fight against this failure must consist not only of that which Islam of France is required to do.

They grandly declare that anti- Semitism does not concern only the Jews, it concerns everyoneanti-Semitism must become a national cause before it is too late. Before France ceases to be France. (Translation with stylistic editing mine)

As I read  the  manifesto, I was  reminded of  the years I spent and graduated from the fine French school in Istanbul  run by the Christian Brothers (who, incidentally, never mentioned, discussed or commemorated  the Holocaust ) where I encountered  the love of  French folks for fine words and high flown language. As it has been said the French like phraser (to phrase it) and less charitably dresser les corps (to dress corpses).

They particularly like to phrase it when they are seeking to divert the readers’ and audiences’ attention from the unpleasant truths about France, its government, and the EU or to placate the world by talking the talk but somehow managing to avoid walking the walk, even in open and shut cases, as has been the case with respect to Israel and anti-Semitism under the guise of legitimate criticism of the policies and actions of the State of Israel, the IDF, the Israeli authorities and settlers in Judea and Samaria.

This manifesto is a perfect illustration of this stratagem; save for the signatories with a solid record of speaking up against or fighting anti-Semitism.

The manifesto raises more questions than it provides hopeful, encouraging, promising answers, let alone, results.

By way of introductory comment, as a former social science researcher, I have always taken the position that after an event occurs, what remains unknown/unanswered is just as, if not more, important than that which we find or we are told.

Hence, when the Canadian newspapers inform their readers that according to the most recent national survey, 70% of the population is favourable to increased immigration   and/or refugee intake, I want to know as much as I can about the 30% of the population that opposes it in order   to assess the meaning, significance and implications of the survey results.

Coming back to the manifesto, while at first blush, the number of signatories sounds impressive, what about the rest? More specifically, who  are  the personalities and celebrities and the prominent Muslim clergyman who, a)are indifferent to the issue; b) opposed the manifesto and refused to signed it, and on what grounds were these individuals or groups of individuals indifferent , opposed to and/or refused to sign it?

While the press made special note of the fact that former prime ministers Sarkozy and Valls signed the manifesto, to the best of my knowledge they did little, if anything, beyond fine rhetoric, to address the problem of anti-Semitism. Then again, their presence highlights the absence of former President Hollande, who personally had a lot to do with the propagation of Muslim anti-Semitism both in intensity and gravity.

More importantly, based on public surveys conducted to date in France, what can be reasonably said or inferred about the extent to which the tenor and thrust of the manifesto reflects, fails to reflect or is inconsistent with popular sentiments on the issue having regard to the demographic profiles of the respondents to these surveys?

Officially, according to the French interior ministry, in 2017 the anti-Semitic crime rate in France fell by 7%, the decrease being for a third year running.  Again, a bald percentage, does not tell us much, if anything, for starters without a breakdown of the religious identities and ages of the transgressors and the nature and gravity of the crimes they committed during this three year period compared to the preceding 3 years. Nor does it tell us the statistically estimated ratio of reported anti-Semitic crimes to the un-recoded ones. What are the comparative statistics of the hate crimes committed against the Catholic/Christian inhabitants, along the same lines I just outlined?

Taking the decrease of 7% and the three year pattern of decline at face value, what then caused the signatories to issue the manifesto at this point in time?

I now turn to the specific demand in the manifesto.

The historical precedent cited in the manifesto and on which the petitioners rely to make their demand is not entirely accurate. More specifically, Vatican II did not do away with all Catholic anti-Semitism, as evidenced by the initiatives of Pope Francis, the latest of which was taken just this year, by removing the anti-Semitic component of a prayer.

The Roman Catholic reforms did some good to some extent but did not by any stretch of the imagination bury anti-Semitism. Right -wing prelates starting with Archbishop Lefebvre and others, their respective congregations did not necessarily heed the walking orders of the reformist Popes. And to the extent, Catholic anti-Semitism rates went down as a result of the reforms, they went down in good measure because the period of reform coincided with that when Europeans were in the throes of guilt feelings about the Holocaust and the fact that, most of the European states including the Vichy France. France also took its own sweet time to condemn some of its Nazi collaborators including the directing minds of the national railway company that obliged the Nazis by transporting their victims to their murder. And in at least one instance, the government waited until the person in question passed away before denouncing him instance including the  national and France, t

Post- World War II, anti-Semitism when either underground or into a pattern of disturbed sleep as evidenced, among others, by the recent events in Catholic countries such as Poland, two of the Baltic countries, and Hungary/.As time went by it partly mutated into various forms of anti-Semitic political action  such as the BDS movement, promoted by  political  organisations that  disingenuously  professed  to engage in legitimate criticism of the policies and action of Israel, when in fact they did nothing of the .Instead  they engage in anti-Semitism by applying double standards and  exercising willful blindness, deafness and silence about the terrorism perpetrated  by Hamas and by the Palestinian Authority.

At all events, does the key demand of the signatories to the Islam of France make sense? For the reasons set out next, clearly, it makes absolutely no sense.

Rather, the demand exposes the signatories’ ignorance of Islam and its workings. More specifically, according to The Hadith -The Sunna of Mohammed, published by the Center for the Study Political Islam (CSPI) in 2010, (p.1) Islam is defined by the words of Allah in the Koran, and the words and actions of Prophet Mohammed, the Sunna. In turn, the Sunna comprises two collections of texts- the Sira (the Prophet’s life) and the Hadith or tradition which is a collection of brief stories about the Prophet.

The Koran is not the Bible of Islam. The foundation of textual Islam as a religion rests in this trilogy. The Koran, fundamental as it is, is a component of this trilogy. None of these texts stands by itself. The three texts constitute a seamless whole and speak with one voice.

If the foregoing conceptualisation of Islam is that shared by the various denominations and sects of the Islam establishments, then the manifesto’s focus on specific verses of the Koran is hardly the right path.

Rather, it is the path that lead to disagreement with the Islam of France and beyond that to vehement Muslim protests that took serious exception to the course of action demanded by the signatories on a number of grounds.

The fact of the matter is that a great deal of Muslim religious and political anti-Semitism is propagated with impunity not  with the Koranic verses but with quotations from the Hadith and incantations, supplications, sermons and lectures of some of the Muslim clergy. Taking Canada, my country, for illustrative purposes, here are some examples:

2004- Montreal: a local Imam implored Allah to destroy the accursed Jews … kill them one by one and make their children orphans and their women widows; supplicated  O Allah, destroy the accursed Jews, O Allah, show us the black day you inflict on them, O Allah, show us  the wonders of your power and ability  inflicted on them, 0 the most Merciful, O Allah,  show us how you do to them what you did [to the peoples of….],O Allah, make  their children orphans and their wives widows.”

2015-Toronto: Cf. Tarek Fatah, Muslims Shouldn’t Pray to Defeat Non-Muslims, http://www/me forum.org/4974

2016- Montreal: a Jordanian Imam described Jews as the most evil of mankind, human demons and invoked: O Muslim! O servant of Allah! O Muslim! O servant of Allah!  there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.” (An excerpt from a Hadith story) Cf. Another Montreal Imam Incites Violence Against Jewish Community, www.bnaibrith.ca.2017.

2017- Toronto: daily prayers to purify Temple Mount from the filth of Jews.

2017-Vancouver: an Imam, member of the Muslim Association of Canada gives a sermon that incites the congregation and those listening to his sermon on YouTube against the Israelis by referring to them as an impure gang and to Zionists as the worst of mankind.

2018-Vancouver: the same Imam was caught at an anti-Israel protest, condemning the malevolent Jews and calling for the destruction of the enemies of Islam.

For further samples  of  anti-Semitism in Canada  expressed in mosques in various forms that are not necessarily  based on quotes from the Koran, see:  Jonathan Halevi,  Supplications at Masjid Toronto Mosque [including] Slay them one by one and spare not one of them ,CIJ News February 18,2017 and another Imam in Canada: Muslims will eventually kill all ‘evil’ Jews, March  20,2017;Judith Bergman, Canada Bring on the Islamization!,Gatestone Institute, March 23,2017 (provides a list of cases in Toronto between 2004 and 2016)

Although the Muslim community at large or some segments of it joined the Jewish community in protesting against some of the foregoing events (2004 and 2006), the fact remains that if the faithful, and in particular the young adults and those of second generation who are radicalised by hearing such sermons, supplications and whatnot, this radicalisation will inevitably trigger  the destructive or killing instincts in some of them, as was the case in many of the anti-Semitic murders committed in France in recent times.

As it turns out and the signatories ought to have known better and expected it, while, in the prevailing circumstances, the Muslim clergy of France, issued a public denunciation of anti-Semitism, the clerical establishment clearly and the faithful vehemently and angrily rejected out of hand the demand of the signatories.

Personally, if I were a Muslim, I would also readily and angrily reject it, for no other reason that I consider the signatories as overbearing, self-righteous people who are pretentious enough to make such a ridiculous demand from me and my religion.

I would also take delight in pointing out to the Catholic signatories that in 2014, their very own Pope in a letter to the Christians of the Middle East stated:  Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and favours peaceful coexistence, and ask them to listen to their own Pope and act accordingly.

Even if Islam France had agreed to comply with the demand of the manifesto and assuming, for sake of argument, that the Muslim clergy in France, have the requisite religious authority and power to excise the impugned verses in a manner that purports to bind the faithful and did so, this would not affect the intensity of Muslim anti-Semitism in France to a significant decree for the reasons provided above.

In the meantime, I wouldn’t bet, even a penny that the clerics, who announce their decision to do the excising or that they have done it, would remain alive for long i.e. more than 24 hours.

At all events, even if the Muslim radicals, terrorists and other types of criminals who perpetrate anti-Semitic crimes, can no longer invoke the verses in the Koran to justify their dastardly deeds, they can just as easily justify them by invoking, among other things, (a) excerpts from the Hadith; (b) the lessons, supplications, invocations,  sermons of radicalised imams; (c) what their parents and teachers told or taught them, and (d) the pronouncements  of overseas Islamic authorities, and/or Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and others.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Muslims; whether they be  religiously conservative or even ultra-conservative, anti-Semites as a significant number of  them may be; practice their religion, without necessarily acting in accordance the verses in the Koran impugned by the signatories and others and  instead  express and channel their anti-Semitism in a number of alternative ways such as stacking public library shelves with radical Islamic texts political action of various kinds within and without Parliament, and electoral strategy in ridings where the Muslim vote is essential or the Muslim electorate is well worth cultivating as an insurance policy in securing  one or more seats in municipal councils, provincial legislatures and in the Federal Parliament.

I now come to the last critical problem with the manifesto, namely; the signatories addressed their demand to the wrong party and consequently failed to make the right demands.

The manifesto ought to have been addressed to the real culprits who caused the present state of affairs, first and primarily the successive French governments and the European Parliament and the European Union acting in supporting or validating roles.

The last two, by their words and deeds sustain the Islamic anti-Semitism by siding with the Palestinian Authority, keeping quiet on Hamas, failing to recognise Hezbollah for what it is and dumping on Israel at every opportunity, in some instances, at the drop of a pin, lest they incur the wrath of Arab countries and organisations.

And if by happenstance they fail to find fault with Israel’s action in particular circumstances, as the European Parliament did for the very first time, in the context of the current Gaza war, it couched its motion with so many caveats and related criticisms of Israel on a variety of grounds that, at the end of the day, Israel appears to comes out near the wrong end of the stick.

As to the primary culprit the successive French governments and more particularly the ones under President Hollande that failed to exercise the sovereign right of France to protect its own citizens, and the Jewish citizens and community in particular against the newcomers, knowing full well what a number of them and certain segments of the Muslim community already in place are all about on the issue of anti-Semitism.

For example, during the 10 year tenure of former President Hollande and the inaction of the premiers serving under him, including Prime Minister Vall who said the right things but acted on none of them; followed by the bizarre reasoning and behaviour of the current President Macron who in short order earned not merely the title of “useful infidel” but that of “useful idiot”.

Coming back to Hollande, he jeopardised, (as did Germany, Sweden and Spain among others) the safety and security of France’s Jewish communities, first, through his participation in the grand European scheme to take in real but also fake refugees from Moslem counties, knowing full well that the newcomers included radical Islamists, potential terrorists, and others who harboured and nurtured the kind of anti-Semitism against which the signatories are now protesting.

In the process, he contributed in a large measure to the French migrant crisis that has span out of control.

Second, he cow-towed to the radicalised Muslim community for electoral reasons and in order to protect and promote France’s political and economic interests in Arab countries.

Third, he did nothing about the inflow of funds from overseas radical religious organisations and countries that financed the construction of mosques, their staffing with the imams of their choice and continued to maintain the upkeep and pay the staff.

Fourth, he did not shut up, and failing that expel the radical imams who spread anti-Semitism and incited their flock to engage in anti-Semitic endeavours.

Fifth, he did not rid the country of persons with dual nationality who, on the evidence, posed potential and actual danger to national security or to the security of the Jewish community.

Sixth, he failed to pay attention and listen to reformist Muslim voices and take their counsel.

Seventh, he failed to insure that his governments fully enforced the hate laws.

Eight, under his watch, his governments forbade the national security organisation, to experiment with and use Israeli anti-terrorist programs that according to experts, if used, might well have saved the lives of some of the victims in the grand Paris terrorist attacks.

And the list goes on.

When the waves of refugees hit Europe  and started knocking on the countries’ doors , Hollande’s motto  must have been something like : France would  cease to be  France, if she did not, in the good Christian and civilised European tradition, take in  the refugees who seek our assistance in their hour of  dire need.  

Now according to the manifesto France would  cease to be France ,among other things, if Islam France , to begin with, failed to excise the offending verses from the Koran.

In so far as I am concerned, France is not that which the signatories claim it to be on the question of anti-Semitism.

The way I read history, for the Jewish community, France provided it with a good deal of foul weather periodically punctured by a stretch of sunny warm one.

I believe that  the France of the signatories is on its way to cease to exist. Judging from the current trends in Europe, I share the view that her current path can be travelled only one way and  has no exits.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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