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France's Rushdie Affair By: Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 21, 2003


“...I hope someone slits your throat, you dirty, Jew pig...”

France, once the land of Enlightenment, is turning into a place of darkness, thanks to Islamist fanaticism.

Death threats like the one above have forced a French publishing house to cancel plans this month to publish a translated version of American author  Robert Spencer’s book, Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About The World’s Fastest Growing Faith.

The book, published last year in the United States, has sold 30,000 copies in its English-language edition and is found in nearly every public and university library in North America. Its author has appeared on numerous radio and talk shows to discuss his work, which, he says, is meant to enlighten an uniformed public about Islam.

Extremists in France are angry because Islam Unveiled contests conventional wisdoms held in the West about Islam. Basing his arguments on evidence found in the Koran, the author maintains that Islamist terrorists like bin Laden are simply obeying the Muslim holy book, which they regard as the literal word of God, in attacking Western targets. In other words, the terror masters are not perverters of their faith as some claim.

Spencer also shows that the Koran, if literally interpreted, makes Islam incompatible with Western concepts of human rights, liberal democracy and women’s equality. Islam Unveiled reveals how disturbingly widespread the literal interpretation of the Koran is in the Muslim world and the devastating consequences this has had, and is still having, for its religious minorities, as evidenced by the recent synagogue bombings in Istanbul.

Soon after the book’s publication was approved in France last April, its translator, French writer Guy Milliere, began to receive death threats.

“I sent him (the publisher) the translation of the first thirty pages,” said Milliere in a written interview. “A couple of weeks later I started to receive death threats by e-mail: ‘You must be an enemy of Islam; you will die for what you do’; ‘You must be a Jew; I hope somebody will slit your throat, you dirty Jew pig’, etc...I asked the police to act; I have received no answer.”      

Milliere adds that the intended publisher, Yves Michalon, also received death threats. Moreover, opposition to the book’s publication in France came not only from outside, but also from within the publishing house, which bears the publisher’s name. According to Milliere, one of Michalon’s assistants told him that if he published the book, he would resign, because it was “racist.” He also said he would go to the media with this charge. 

“My publisher preferred to give it up,” said Milliere. “But he is a nice man, and a bold one; he asked me to write a book about what happened.”

For his part, Spencer calls the cancellation of his book’s publication “...a symptom of the Islamic agenda in France and the silencing of non-Muslims as ‘dhimmis’.”

“What you have here is a subjugation of public opinion in France,” he said. “It’s ironic. If you don’t say Islam is a religion of peace, they will kill you. My book doesn’t advocate murdering anyone. It only investigates questions about Islam, but it is so threatening that they’ll kill to silence it.”

Spencer adds that the cancellation also represents “another triumph for the subservient mentality to Islam” prevalent in countries like France. It is also, he said, a condemnation of the Christian heritage by Christians themselves.

“If France just acquiesces to threats and intimidation while allowing radical Muslims to spread their message unhindered, it bodes ill not only for their society, but for the West,” he warns.

But French society is so sick it is probably beyond help, if a book published there last year is anything to go by. While people are threatened with death over publication of Spencer’s work, the novel Rever la Palestine (Dream of Palestine) faced no apparent obstacles in reaching the booksellers. Written by a fifteen-year-old Egyptian living in Italy and published by France’s third-largest publishing house, Rever is intended for young people and concerns Palestinian teenagers fighting against “bloodthirsty Jews, who assassinate children, and old people, profane mosques, and rape Arab women.” 

The author has one of the book’s characters calling for a Jihad against the Jews, while the main character becomes a suicide bomber who kills five Israelis. The Wiesenthal Center asked the Amazon websites in Germany and France, as well as other Franch websites, not to sell the book, calling it outrageous, an incitement to racist violence and a validation of terrorism.

As for the stillborn Islam Unveiled, Milliere says he will now try to get another publisher for the book, possibly in Switzerland. He says free speech concerning Islam doesn’t exist anymore in France.

“The media, the politicians, etc., they all say Islam is a religion of peace and love,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to say anything different. A new word has appeared in debates: ‘Islamophobia’. It means any critic of Islam is racist. Nobody in France now can criticize Islam or make a joke about it without ending up in jail."


Stephen Brown is a contributing editor at Frontpagemag.com. He has a graduate degree in Russian and Eastern European history. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com.


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