Why is Islamism not seen as right-wing extremism?
– asks Frederik Stjernfelt, professor at the Center for Semiotics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, – in this brilliant commentary on the media reaction to the arson attack on Charlie Hebdo.
“Large sections of the political left fail to grasp the far-right nature of Islamist ideology, which directly and explicitly aims to roll back the standards of the Enlightenment in politics”
“Democratic voices and Western political parties must realise that we are now in a new situation of acute overcrowding on the far right not seen since WWII, where extreme nationalism, neo-nazism, ethnopluralism, and racism compete with many brands of Christian and Islamist fundamentalisms”.
“The conflicts between such groups should no longer blind us to the fact that they constitute far-right movements in their deep resentment towards the Enlightenment, liberalism and human rights. So the predominant picture that has arisen out of the past weeks shows an upsurge of radical religious pressure dominating the public sphere in Paris, once the Enlightenment capital”.
“The incident therefore constitutes a radical resurgence of the religious curtailment of free speech – in the midst of one of the very cradles of freedom of expression. It was in Paris that free speech was first established as a fundamental legal fact in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man – after a protracted and bitter decade-long struggle between the radical Enlightenment on the one hand and the Catholic Church and French Absolutism on the other – a history rife with burning books, which prefigured the burning piles of Charlie Hebdo copies on Tuesday night”.
“Slowly and steadily, the poison of the extreme religious right is spreading in democratic societies, shrinking the space of free speech and criticism day by day. The strange and unsavoury cocktail of death threats, bombings and arson with whining and whimpering – topped off by defeatist intellectuals talking about “sensibilities” – is slowly eating away at the heart of open societies”.
Frederik Stjernfelt: “Nausea in Paris”
(Signandsight.com :outstanding articles by non English-language authors.)
Original article in German: Jungle World Nr. 45, 10. November 2011