“Racism and xenophobia are not spontaneous, but the product of abandoned politics.”

Spring break just finished and so did my reading of the 167 pages written by Edwy Plenel in Pour les musulmans. During the holidays, I got lost in the streets of Lisbon and decided to enter in a French library, Fnac, to look for a book to read while I waited for my boyfriend to leave work and help me find my way.

Retrieved from Editionsladecouverte.fr

All the books were in Portuguese or in English, but I decided I could satisfy myself only if I read something in French since it is easier to find a book in that language in Portugal than in the US. So I saw this appealing title, and looked for the biography of the author.

Edwy Plenel is a journalist working in an online newspaper that he created and leads today, recently centre of a polemic in France, Mediapart. The newspaper Independent said in 2013 that he was “one of the most hated men in France. And also one of the most admired.” So, I guess you either like him of hate him. And I loved it.

The title Pour les Musulmans can be translated by “For the Muslims,” but does not reveal what we expect from it. It is amazing.

Pour les musulmans is more than a book, it is a long essay that regroups the incredible humanity and research the author put into it to express his opinion and disgust against the French government that became too racist, too islamophobic. He is not “on the Muslim side,” he is against these that see a division in between the people with different beliefs.

Retrieved from Giphy.com

Edwy Plenel wrote a hymn to tolerance where he opened his door to the Muslims of France with the aim of building democracy together. The essay quotes historical authors who helped society to progress and become better such as Zola or Sartre, advocating not only for the cause of the Muslims of France but also for all discriminated minorities. Indeed, it recalls the terrible acts of the Jewish genocide. He tells how Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate for the 2017 Presidential Elections in France, wanted to “undemonize” her party, the National Front (Front National), by replacing anti-semitism with Islamophobia and xenophobia that defines the party.

The fear of the other encloses, the fear of the other paralyzes, he recalls. For Plenel, France’s most important challenge is to “finally learn to think as both a whole and as a single person, solidarity and diversity, unity and plurality.”

In particular, he compared the current situation of the country, and even the world I must say, with the one of the Dreyfus case and an article by Zola entitled “For the Jews.” Zola defended at the time the Jews, like Edwy Plenel defends the Muslim cause today.

The essay is amazingly well written and gives a great background, from political speeches from Nicolas Sarkozy to the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. I really enjoyed the reading since I am passionated about the news, history and political debates. In addition, it is a very current issue that I believe affects too many innocent. I earlier this semester read a book about the genocide, and I believe it is essential to read this in order to the aware of history and prevent it to happen again.

Maybe the few negative aspects of the books would be that it is too bias, so for someone who really is racist he would probably stop reading it after the first chapter. But here again, that is the point of an essay. I think it is great.

Retrieved from Giphy.com

No matter what is your political opinion, I think it is important to read this long essay written by a highly educated and wise journalist. His call for unity and anti-racism is heard clearly, it is almost a diatribe against the extreme right in France, but I think it was necessary. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in politics or current affairs.