The attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January 2015, during which fourteen people were killed, pose a specific problem for the white left. The call to contextualize Charlie Hebdo foregrounded a structurally white French context, in which people of colour and Muslims could be included only as loyal subjects of the Republic. The translations of France offered by French and Francophile leftists for their “Anglo-American” interlocutors, while revealing of the French dynamics of secularism, universalism, and coloniality, marginalised those “who could not be Charlie.” Instead, to use Barnor Hesse’s formulation, a “white analytics” was advanced that denied the centrality of the “black analytics” crucial for a complete understanding of both historical and contemporary French conflicts around race and religion (Hesse 2014). “Context,” therefore, stand in for racial neutrality: in reality, an impossibility.

The demand to contextualise Charlie Hebdo was summed up by British journalist, Leigh Phillips in Ricochet,

the last few days have been a humiliation for the anglophone left, showcasing to the world how poor our ability to translate is these days as so many people have posted cartoons on social media that they found trawling Google Images as evidence of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘obvious racism,’ only to be told by French speakers how, when translated and put into context, these cartoons actually are explicitly anti-racist or mocking of racists and fascists.

The “French speaker” linked to in the article is Olivier Tonneau, a self-defined “Frenchman and a radical left militant at home and here in UK,” who, along with the unnamed authors of the “Understanding Charlie Hebdo” website, does all in his power to explain why he “was puzzled and even shocked” by the proposition that Charlie Hebdo could be perceived as “rampantly islamophobic” (Tonneau 2015). The attempt by these interventions to cordon off France from the rest of the world — particularly an imagined and essentialised Anglo-American world — is notable considering the impossibility of such a separation, given the messy realities of both historical global interdependence (Bhambra 2007) and the contemporary entanglements afforded in large part by the digitality of communications.

The outrage at the suggestion that Charlie Hebdo may be emblematic of a particular form of racism that naturalizes Islam, Muslims (and by extension those misidentified as Muslim), as intrinsically anti-democratic, anti-women, homophobic and violent, is exemplary of the French left’s self-belief in the inherent anti-racist principles of the ideology of the Republic. The ability to separate racism from Islamophobia on which this depends rests upon the mobilization of an arbitrary separation between racism and blasphemy. However, as analysts of France’s relationship to race, religion and coloniality have pointed out, such a separation relies on a thin and inaccurate historicisation of the terms of laïcité. Pierre Tévanien and Christine Delphy have pointed out the erroneous presentation of French laïcité as equatable with religious neutrality. Based on an examination of the oft-cited but rarely read laws of 1880, 1882, 1886 or 1905, Tévanien shows that there is nothing in them that equates the neutrality of the state vis-à-vis religion with the compulsion of individuals to be religiously neutral in public. And as Delphy explains, the only way in which the law can be misinterpreted is due to the polysemous nature of the word “public”:

[R]eligion, while evidently not being of the State, is nonetheless not ‘private,’ meaning ‘without public expression,’ because the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the law implies freedom of expression, and because public space does not belong to the state.

Ignoring this vital commentary, in the comments section under Tonneau’s article, a commenter notes that for “Anglo-Saxon leftists,” “laïcité is a barbaric custom of the Gallic tribe, against which it is necessary to defend the wearing of the veil as a form of anti-imperialist resistance, and to excuse the fascist killers who they see as being poor, working class, oppressed youth.” Tonneau responds: “Yes, the reactions in England — especially on the Left — are really shocking.” The folding together of themes in the comment reveals why it was problematic to seek out purportedly authentic voices for providing ‘context’. Because no effort is made to scrutinize the laws that brought laïcité into effect, it is possible for the ways in which the meta-discourse on laïcité is utterly inseparable from the racism faced by those of migrant origin to be considered irrelevant.

Paradoxically, legally-inconsistent, ideological misappropriations of laïcité lead to exclusions from the very republican structures (schools, public spaces) in which participation is deemed vital for full incorporation into the French nation. For example, in 2010, the Nouvel parti anticapitaliste (NPA) dropped one of its electoral candidates, Ilham Moussaïd, because she wore the hijab. Tévanien cites the General Secretary of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry, who said she “would never accept a veiled woman on the socialist list” because “it’s a statement of religion that should remain in the private sphere.” Despite Moussaïd’s identification as a “pro-choice feminist,” Ni putes ni soumises, a militantly republican feminist group, established with the support of the then Sarkozy government, condemned the NPA’s list as “anti-laïque, anti-feminist and anti-republican” because of her presence on it.

Public notice posted in a French public hospital stating that due to the “laïque and neutral” space of the hospital, anyone wearing an “ostentatious symbol linked to a religion” would be denied entry © Alana Lentin
Public notice posted in a French public hospital stating that due to the “laïque and neutral” space of the hospital, anyone wearing an “ostentatious symbol linked to a religion” would be denied entry © Alana Lentin

The same logic is at play in the March 2015 appearance of a notice in the public hospital in the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-Saint George stating that due to the “laïque and neutral” space of the hospital, anyone wearing an “ostentatious symbol linked to a religion” would be denied entry, again in defiance of the actual law. Neither does the law presuppose that observant Muslim children should be forced to be offered no alternative to pork at the school canteen in Gironde or that mothers who wear the hijab be forbidden from accompanying their children on school trips, as the organization Mamans toutes égales (Mothers, all equal) highlights is often the case.

These accounts of the ways in which the authoritarian imposition of laïcité seeks to homogenise and effectively whiten French public space are well-known. But what has received less attention is how interpreters of French context post-Charlie Hebdo whitewashed French antiracist history in defence of the publication. “Understanding Charlie Hebdo” admonishes the “Anglo-Saxon” world for its inability to read behind the apparent vulgarity of the magazine’s caricatures. For example, the cartoon of a simianised Justice Minister, Christiane Taubira, may have been intended as a ridiculing of the far-right Front national, as the website claims. However, beyond the fact that the use of racism to negate racism can only be a strategy of those for whom racist caricature is personally meaningless, the question of just what is meant by antiracism for “the Charlies” is left untouched. As my research into anti-racism in Europe revealed, the term anti-racism is contested; many organisations refuse the appellation due to its association with a particular brand of state-aligned, Republican and militantly secularist activism. And so it was troubling to read, in the explanations of French context, that Charlie Hebdo was an antiracist publication because of its alignment with organisations such as le MRAP and SOS racisme.

Take the MRAP. “Understanding Charlie Hebdo” explains that the Taubira cartoon “was drawn by Charb. He participated in anti-racism activities, and notably illustrated this poster for MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples), an anti-racist NGO.” What was not mentioned was that the association has been widely criticized by decolonial activists and academics for endorsing the existence of ‘anti-white racism’. As pointed out in a collective critique,

how can the idea of ‘anti-white racism’ not be seen as having emerged from a political debate in France bent on the inversion of responsibility? The ‘victim’ is no longer the immigrant or the descendent of immigrants but the white person, an inversion that could be put in another way; if there is growing hostility to immigration, it is the immigrants’ fault.

Anti-white or “reverse” racism has been a persistent theme of the neocon right in France, such as nouveaux philosophes Alain Finkielkraut or Bernard Kouchner. So it is irksome that the terms of “anti-white racism,” which deflate “the seriousness and specificity of colonialist crimes […] through a suggestion of equivalence,” are deemed acceptable by the MRAP (Lentin and Titley 2011: 65). More recently, the MRAP accused the decolonial Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic of anti-Semitism for its criticism of French philosemitism and support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement.

Then there is SOS Racisme. In some ways it is surprising that Phillips claims that “SOS Racisme, the main anti-racist NGO in the country, has partnered with Charlie in the past in campaigns against anti-immigrant politics.” It is surprising because in the thirty years of its existence so much has been written, in English as well as in French, on the origins of SOS as an elite project of the French Socialist Party, funded to the hilt by a Mittérand, chasing the youth vote in 1981 (cf. Jazouli 1986, Malik 1990, Lentin 2004). But some myths no doubt endure. This is why Tonneau could evoke the secularist intent of the 1983 Marche pour l’égalite et contre le racisme. Only a complete lack of engagement with the history of how a social movement that rose out of the banlieues of Lyon to march for citizenship rights was destroyed from the top down by SOS racisme, and its powerful political backers could lead to Tonneau making the following amalgamation: “The spirit of the Marche des beurs is that of Charlie Hebdo: justice for all citizens, including migrants and minorities.” Highlighting that the 1983 marchers were not “making religious claims; they were not walking as Muslims but as French citizens,” Tonneau effectively denies the possibility of being what Mayanthi Fernando calls “Muslim French.” Whatever ire he undoubtedly has for the participants of the anti-gay Manif pour tous, Tonneau would be hard-pushed to say that, as Christians, they were not also French.

When applying a black rather than white analytics to the discussion of the French context, it is clear that Tonneau, Phillips, et al’s failure to understand why Charlie Hebdo could be seen as racist is based in their partial (white) understanding of what racism is. Racism is interpreted as both externally produced and affective, a feeling instilled in some (i.e. workers) by those who seek to manipulate them (i.e. the far right). In reality, racist like antiracist feeling is tangential to structural conditions underpinned by racial logics. So, to declare Charlie Hebdo opposed to racism does not axiomatically negate the racist nature of many of its cartoons. Phillips’ proposition that “accusations of racism (indeed any accusations) must be substantiated by the accuser, not automatically presumed to be true,” is consistent with his irritation with what he calls “an illogical, self-destructive, identity politics mess.” Any attempt to really contextualize Charlie Hebdo, by submitting the unproblematised white account of its self-declared antiracism to a black analytical reading that questions race-blind accounts from a complex race-critical point of view is rejected as incoherent identitarianism!

It would be easy to dismiss those who took to the web to protest the neglect of French context in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks as simply ignorant of this more complex picture. More correctly, this widely propagated ‘authentic French context’ is filtered through a white analytics that, due to its partial reading of that context, is unable to be holistic. From such a perspective, steeped in what Etienne Balibar calls the ‘“simulacrum’ of universalism…[which] (is in a sense much more real, or effective, than the ‘true’ version),” any antiracism which problematizes, not only the policies and actions of the state and its successive governments, but the ideology of republicanism itself, is seen as part of the problem not the solution. For this reason, the politics of individuals and organisations who take a decolonial standpoint, muddying the waters of the multi-hued yet united Republic by declaring themselves (still) indigènes, or by demanding a hyphenated French-other identity, are either actively ignored or radically opposed. The discussions of context have the effect of flattening, not invigorating, debate, paradoxical given the criticism of Islam and its adherents as “obscurantist.” We did not hear, for example, that the sociologist, Saïd Bouamama and the Zone d’expression populaire singer Saïdou, were taken to court on January 20 2015 by the right-wing Catholic organization, the AGRIF, accused of “anti-French racism.”

Saïdou, commenting on the variable approach to freedom of speech accorded to France’s citizens and preempting the discussion of hypocrisy post-Charlie, said in 2009: “the white person who whistles the Marseillaise will be tolerated more easily than the Arab who whistles it… The Arab will be an ‘anti-French racist,’ the white guy just a ‘leftist.’ The Arab doesn’t have the right to be a leftist.”

Those white leftists, wishing to be on the right side of the argument for justice and equality, are perplexed when they fail to recognize themselves in their interlocutors. How can these progressives reconcile their desire to defeat racism with their suspicion that the very objects of their commitment — the “victims” of racism — are standing in the way of a universalist idea of freedom and equality? What happens when the knowledge that systemic discrimination denies the equality of fellow human beings conflicts with the feeling that the struggles of these “brothers and sisters” are misguided? In other words, how can the White Left fight against racism if its leadership is questioned? It appears that these, by no means new, questions about the very nature of antiracist solidarity are at the core of the quest to explain Charlie Hebdo.

Editor’s Note: On September 16, 2015, this article was changed to correct the misattribution of quotes on Mr. Tonneau’s website.


Bhambra, Gurminder. 2007. “Multiple Modernities or Global Interconnections: understanding the global post the colonial” In: Nathalie Karagiannis and Peter Wagner, eds. Varieties of World-Making: Beyond Globalization: Liverpool University Press 2007, pp. 59-73.

Hesse, Barnor. 2014. “Racism’s Alterity: The After-life of Black Sociology,” In Racism and Sociology, edited by Wulf D. Hund and Alana Lentin, 141–174. Berlin: Lit Verlag.

Jazouli, Adil. 1986. L’Action collective des jeunes maghrébins de France. Paris: Editions Harmattan.

Malik, Serge. 1990. Histoire Secrète de SOS Racisme. Paris: Albin Michel.

Lentin, Alana. 2004. Racism and Anti-racism in Europe. London: Pluto Press.

22 thoughts on “Charlie Hebdo and the Appeal for French Context

  1. I find myself agreeing with some of this critique, disagreeing with its central theoretical stance, i.e. that there is such a thing as a black versus a white analytic, and deeply ambivalent about the political implications of the piece overall.

    It makes sense to me to debunk the strained arguments that the apparently offensive cartoons in Charlie Hebdo are not really offensive, that the apparently racist is really anti-racist. This I agree with. My grounds: there is a fine line here that Charlie Hebdo sometimes crossed. Irony and satire live on ambiguity, but also die with it.

    I nonetheless don’t think Charlie Heddo staff should have been censored, let alone murdered. For this reason, expressing solidarity with them makes sense to me.

    Yet, somehow that a clear distinction can be made between equal opportunity anti-religious satire, on the one hand, and racism, on the other, I agree is not convincing.

    But that there is no such thing as anti-white racism and that this is clear from the point of view of a black analytic is troubling. Demagogues speak in the name of the oppressed, but they still are demagogues, and they can cause, indeed have caused, much pain for those in whose name they speak, as well as to those they speak against. Modern tyrants have used race theory in the past, and they likely will use it in the future, alas, and I see little evidence that it is primarily a matter black versus white, whether it is in France or Europe, in the Americas or in Africa.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jeffrey.

      This piece is part of a longer comment in which, perhaps, the theoretical framework is made more clear. The idea of black and white analytics is borrowed from Barnor Hesse whose piece, ‘Racism’s Alterity: the after-life of black sociology’ (2014) demonstrates how two traditions of sociology – black and white – develop separately in the US. This can be seen in the almost total neglect of Du Bois, for example, from the ‘canon’. Similar arguments have been made by Gurminder Bhambra and have been taken up by those such as Encarnacion Gutierrez-Rodriguez’s in her call for a decolonial sociology. I have taken these discussions into my own reflections on the way in which there is a silence about race, particularly in European discussions of matters pertaining to race (but which are not named as such).

      The implications of the discussion in my piece is that Du Bois’s double consciousness, in which the racialised in society (be it the US as in his example, or in post-immigration Europe) are endowed with a ‘second sight’ that permits them to see things from both ‘black’ and ‘white’ perspectives, has to be extended to society at large. Only a complete failure to engage with ‘black’ (racialised) perspectives in the post-Charlie Hebdo context could lead to the type of blindpsots on antiracism which I am pointing out in the blog. None of the points I have made cast any aspersions on the questions of free speech, let alone the undeniable fact that what happened in Paris was utterly wrong.

      A few of us are participating in the International Social Theory Consortium conference next week in Cambridge in a panel on Du Bois and the Reconstruction of Social Theory. I hope that the panel’s discussion will further animate these debates.

        1. Chiara if you want a truly information and you understand french read the position of MRAP that is NOT against BDS but against ANTISEMITISM of Indigenous of the Republic. Alana lies on this movement. The indigenous of the republic have qualified resistant Dieudonné a comic whose public is from far right to islamist and make the public dancin with a “song” Shoah ananas. Far right antisemitic and racist Jean Marie Le Pen is the goodfather of son of Dieudonné.

      1. Alana, I will read Hesse and try to think this through, appreciating the seriousness of the post and your larger project. As it happens, one of my present projects is to examine Du Bois in light of work I am doing with Iddo Tavory on “the social condition.” (We, and some of my students, have been publishing some notes here on PS. I invite you to take a look.) My intuition, based on not recent reading, is that Du Bois is highly sensitive to what we are particularly concerned with – the examination of the inherent tensions and dilemmas knitted into the social order, in his case focusing on race. Being aware of the resultant ambiguity and ambivalence of social actors and observers is important. To the degree your investigation illuminates this I appreciate it. But I worry about quick judgements of one side or the other. Thus, for example, knowing what anti-racist action is “really” racist.

        I should add, I note an irony in this post that I like, though where you come down is different than where I would. You are critical of those who defend the apparent xenophobia of Charlie Hebdo because they too quickly justify the text by insisting that it be place in the (white) French context. While you are critical of them by contextualizing their position in a broader black (in relationship with the white) context. The problematic relationship of text and context, in knowledge, judgment and politics should be unsteady in this way. Deciding how one resolves this issue in each case is a matter of political opinion and commitment, and not truth, in my judgment.

        Please keep me informed about the panel on Du Bois and the Reconstruction of Social Theory.

        1. Jeffry
          Alana defend in France the demagocic Houria B.,that has said that Dieudonné is a resistant. Dieudonné is an antisemitic that said that jewish has become rich with black slavery. By they way as a homosexual Charlie Hebdo as always defended our rights. Alana Lentin by contrary supported arabs that have an homophobic speech and justified the repression of gay in muslims country as a reaction for gay imperialism …

      2. The problem of Alana Lentin is that she said that is racist to think the jewish are all supporter of Israel and antizionism is different of antisemitism, but she has a variable standing when she speak about Charlie Hebdo. All the muslim (the majority of french black are not musulim as the policewoman killed) are not against charlie. An imam as also said “I’m Charlie” and a journalist of charlie hebdo was of muslim héritage. And what about Mustapha Ourrad berberian of Charlie Hebdo killed by arab muslim terrotist and colonialism ? Arab have colonized berberian but Alana Lentin is not interested in this fact. Mustapha Ourrad is a “white colonialist” for her. A woman was also killed, she was jewish.

  2. Sorry for my english :

    For an homosexual as me, your hypocrisy is very hard. You are said that Charlie Hebdo is homophobic ….
    but what about your friend Houria B. that as participated at an homophobic speech saying that gay mariage is only an interest of white people ? Gay writer Abadallh has stongly criticized her and you are trying to use homosexuals for your hate of Charlie Hebdo. Charlie Hebdo is not homophobic. And Christiane Taubira minister of justice has not criticized Charlie Hebdo such as she has donne with other really racists drawns.
    Muslims association as been in trial with charlie hebdo for racisme. They have lost.
    Catholics fascist have been in trial with Saidou and they have lost.
    Where is the variable freedom of expression ?
    Then here you have a respons of Zineb-el-rhazoui is she racist ? You are making exactly what you says about jewish zionist. For you non-white people are ALL anti-Charlie. It’s racist.

  3. “Whatever ire he undoubtedly has for the participants of the anti-gay Manif pour tous, Tonneau would be hard-pushed to say that, as Christians, they were not also French.”

    There is a petition in the most important muslims site of france to participate at the Manif pour tous. In the manif pour tous there were also woman with headscarf. Between us there are militants against “islamophobia” one of them is co-founder of Indigènes de la République the movement supported by Alana Lentin.
    This is another exemple of the partiality of this paper. The manipulation of facts, but moreover this homophobic use of homosexual to criticize Charlie Hebdo.

  4. What is not mentionned in this article is that MRAP is a pro-palestinian movement and it has not “strongly criticized’ for anti-white racism because in the paper Delphy and the ohters they not comdamn Mrap. The condamnation of Mrap is years later when they have condemened the “Indigènes de la République” supported by Alana Lentin for their homophobic speech. People who don’t want recognize the homophobic charge of Indigènes are the same that speak about Charlie Hebdo as homophobic.

    “Whatever ire he undoubtedly has for the participants of the anti-gay Manif pour tous, Tonneau would be hard-pushed to say that, as Christians, they were not also French.”

    One of the cofounder of Indigenes de la république Abdelaziz Chaambi has signed a petition of muslims against gay mariage and to support manif pour tous in an islamic web. Alena Lentin that use homosexuals as a variable of adjustement doesn’t said anithyng of that. In conclusion what about Christiane Taubira that nos consider Charb racist ? Her opinion is not important for Alana, black speech only when is in her direction.

  5. The article of Alana is a patchwork translation of all the more extremist leftist and cultural muslims movements. In the article that criticized MRAP for anti-white racism Delphy doesn’t not condemn Mrap but is asking for a clarification. Use this argument for discredit MRAP is the same process when ultrazionist qualifie Mrap of antisemitic movement because of his support of palestinian. The operation of Alana is to discretitate all supporter of Charlie but she says anything of the real racism and homophobia of people that she use to criticized Charlie Hebdo. Said Bouamama said for exemple that he dosen’t want french nationality because only national can vote … but he has algerian nationality that is much mor difficult to obtain moreover for non muslims. For Said Bouamama french is a “racist language” (arabic imposed on berberian not ?). Bouamama, Bouteldjia are member of the french middle class they have a situation better than white workers submitted to delocalization and they try to mask their better position defining themselves as “indigènes”. Finally an ahteist arab has criticized Bouteljdia for her racism.

  6. Another information hidden by Alana, is that Pierre Tevanian has benn criticized for have supported antisémitic Dieudonné and Souhail Chichah that the ultrantizionist UJFP have refused to meet. People that Alana use against Charlie Hebdo are not clear with racism and homophobia. And there are two standards. On one she accuse Charlie Hebdo of homophobia and racism, on the other and she support the homophobic and antisemitic speech of this leftist or muslims organisation. French jewish in this contest is normal that they are leaving France for Israël. Jewish ar killed in France by muslim terrorists and you says that the struggle is against “philosemitisme”. You have also hidden that Christiane Taubira was at the funeral of Tignous and she has strongly defended Charlie Hebdo. But for you is a victim of racism you are a white women who decide for a black woman.

  7. Sorry for this multiple comment but this article is very dishonest. The better respons for accusation of racism was given by Zineb el rhazoui (not mentionned in the article, is a woman from Morocco, she doesn’t exist for Alana) who is member of Charlie hebdo had she has written the life of muhammad drawn by Charb the “racist” killed). She is a survivor of Charlie Hebdo.

    And Indigènes and Pierre Tevanian when Charlie hebdo was burn write a petition AGAINST the support of Charlie Hebdo saying that it dosen’ risk anything and it is only a commercial operation). Really farseeing !!!

  8. “More recently, the MRAP accused the decolonial Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic of anti-Semitism for its criticism of French philosemitism and support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement.”

    It’s FALSE Mrap is part of BDS Alana you are making a stalinian process for people that have benn executed by lying. MRAP has accused truly the antisemitic Movement of the Indigenous of the Republic beacause they have qualified antisemitic Dieudonne as a resistants.

  9. Alana Lentin an antiracist ? Really ?

    Here some exploit of Dieudonné, defended by Alana Lentin :

    “In 2012, Dieudonné made his directorial debut in a film called L’Antisémite (The Anti-Semite),[31] in which he starred as a violent and alcoholic character who dresses as a Nazi officer at a party, and also features the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, as well as imagery that mocks Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners.[32] The movie, which was produced by the Iranian Documentary and Experimental Film Center, is also known by the title “Yahod Setiz”. Its scheduled screening at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film (the parallel film market event) was canceled.[33] The film is to be commercialized on the internet and sold to subscribers of Dieudonné’s activities.[34]”

    8] Started on 18 June 2010 in his theater, Dieudonné’s most recent show to date, Mahmoud (standing for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) has an openly antisemitic tone,[29] caricaturing Jews, slavery and “official” versions of history.[30]

    Dieudonné released a song and dance called “Shoananas”, performed to the tune of the 1985 children’s video and song by Annie Cordy “Cho Ka Ka O” (Chaud Cacao or Hot Chocolate in English),[76] which itself by today’s standards might be considered racist.[77] The term “Shoananas” is a portmanteau ofShoah, the French word used to refer to the Holocaust, and ananas, the French word for pineapple.[78]

    Dieudonné started a trend among his supporters of getting photographed making a unique gesture he invented and dubbed the “quenelle”. For some it is just a vulgar gesture of opposition to French institutions, for others it is an antisemitic gesture and was dubbed a “reverse Nazi salute” because while a Nazi salute involves an upraised straight arm, the quenelle involves a straight arm pointed at the ground.

    In December, while performing onstage, Dieudonné was recorded saying about prominent French Jewish radio journalist Patrick Cohen: “Me, you see, when I hear Patrick Cohen speak, I think to myself: ‘Gas chambers… too bad.”’”[79]

  10. It’s also interesting to know how Alana Lentin see in his “black persepective” the speech she has linked of Houria B. of Indigènes de la République. She compare BLACK senegal people of the french colonial army at jewish. She said that this black people that has commited rapes against moroccon woman are considered by moroccon woman as the most brutal, in order to justify the hate that some arabs have against jewish. Jewish compared to rapists. And what about arab slavery against black that has benn before west colonisation and slavery ? Mass castration of black men by arabs ? Did black people hates arab ? No, so this justification of antisemitism is abject.
    Here Tidiane N’diaye on arab slavery against blacks :

  11. Ah, yes. It really is like trying to talk to an alcoholic when they’re drunk, trying to discuss race with the average white person. Great piece, incredibly stimulating, but for me, more questions now than before.

    Where to now for angsting white people who can’t see for the logs in their eyes?

  12. Hi Gino, your English is not a problem, but your spam intensity accusations of homophobia, antisemitism and deceit against Alana certainly are. If you have a proper argument to make, make it any language, but as an argument. The guilt by tenuous chain of factoids approach is exactly one of the political tactics that Alana examines here, and you must know that you are misquoting Houria Bouteldja also. The fact that you are pursuing her across social media platforms with links to the Charnel House isn’t a good look either, “Gino”.

  13. Beautiful and precise analysis of white anti-racism, and the French misunderstanding of laicite, as Italian who share the same principle, I have never understood why many French people who I have encountered throughout my life, are so hostile to public expression of religious beliefs. It is the state and not the people who are supposed to be a-confessional. So, thanks for articulating this point so precisely. Gino, I dont understand what’s your point and what’s your problem with this piece, so that I warmly invite you to put your thoughts together in a way which is less offensive and personal and more theoretical informed and intelligible. That would be greatly appreciated.

  14. As I am one of the main targerts of this article, I wish to stress that I have never written the sentence incriminated, which says that for “Anglo-Saxon leftists,” “ “laïcité is a barbaric custom of the Gallic tribe, against which it is necessary to defend the wearing of the veil as a form of anti-imperialist resistance, and to excuse the fascist killers who they see as being poor, working class, oppressed youth.”

    Here is what I write on laïcité:

    “I often read in the English press, or hear from British friends, that French laïcité is a “foundational myth” – as if France lived under the illusion that religion could be eradicated once and for all. This has nothing to do with laïcité properly defined. Laïcité does not deny anybody the right to express their religious beliefs, but it aims to found society on a political contract that transcends religious beliefs which, as a result, become mere private affairs.”

    I also object to Lentin’s claim that “Only a complete lack of engagement with the history of how a social movement that rose out of the banlieues of Lyon to march for citizenship rights was destroyed from the top down by SOS racisme, and its powerful political backers could lead to Tonneau making the following amalgamation: “The spirit of the Marche des beurs is that of Charlie Hebdo: justice for all citizens, including migrants and minorities.”

    Here is what I write on the Marche des Beurs (I don’t say a word about the hollow shell that is SOS Racisme):

    “The beurs who marched on Paris in 1983 were performing a laïc demonstration. They were not the only ones to demand that the Republic be true to its own principles. In a beautiful book titledLa Démocratie de l’Abstention, two sociologists trace the heartbreaking story (at least it breaks my republican heart*) of how the French citizens who arrived from the former colonies vote massively: they are proud of their right to participate in democracy. They try to convince their children to do the same; but the latter are not interested. Decades of social segregation and economic discrimination has made it clear to them that the word ‘French’ on their passport is meaningless – there is no equality, no freedom and clearly no fraternity.”

    Thirdly, I object to Lentin’s assertion that I deny the possibility of being French and Muslim:

    “Highlighting that the 1983 marchers were not “making religious claims; they were not walking as Muslims but as French citizens,” Tonneau effectively denies the possibility of being what Mayanthi Fernando calls “Muslim French.”

    My article actually says that “France has a long tradition of secular Islam, fully compatible with the laws of the Republic, but at war with fundamentalists.”

    My conclusion was that:

    “I firmly condemn the bombing of Middle-Eastern countries (or any country for that matter) by Western governments. I vote for political parties that condemn it, and I demonstrate against it. I was shocked when such demonstrations were outlawed by the French government – but happy when the same government recognized the Palestinian state. In these demonstrations, I walk with people of all colours, origins and religious creed – we take a political, not a religious stand. And I despair to think that a fraction of the population of my country refuses to regard me as their ally because I am no friend of religions. Being aware of the root causes of the madness that took hold of these young people, I detest politicians who have done nothing to resolve the deliquescence of the banlieues, to fight routine discrimination and control police persecutions. These issues play as big a part in my view in the rise of fundamentalism in the French youth as do events in the Middle East; that is why, had I been in France today, I do not know if I would have wanted to march together with Angela Merkel and David Cameron – much less with Netanyahu and outright Nazis such as Viktor Orban.”

    Unfortunately, Ms Lentin takes issue with my text without caring to provide a link to her source. The full text is available here:

Leave a Reply