Anti-Islam sentiment in France reflected in both art, literature: Scholar

Anti-Islam sentiment in France reflected in both art, literature: Scholar

Extent of anti-Muslim sentiment in France is deeper compared to other European countries, says Nagihan Haliloglu

By Enes Taha Ersen

ISTANBUL (AA) - Anti-Muslim sentiment in France, especially in the public sphere, has also been reflected in French art and literature, according to a Turkish scholar of multiculturalism.

Speaking to Anadolu on Monday, Nagihan Haliloglu, who teaches comparative literature at Istanbul’s Ibn Khaldun University, evaluated the impact of growing anti-Muslim sentiment on literature and art in France.

Haliloglu stated that anti-Muslim sentiment in the West is the result of social engineering.

She said politicians target Muslims, not to solve issues such as women's rights, equality, and justice, but to placate voters.

"In the West, Islam and Islamic values have been used in every period to scare and rein in non-Muslim communities. Politicians say to the public: 'Is this what you want to become?'" she said.

- Unresolved issues

Haliloglu stressed that the tendency to portray Islam negatively is not limited to politics, but Islamic values are also targeted through art and literature in France.

She said award-winning French author Michel Houellebecq is one of the most prominent representatives of anti-Muslim sentiment in literature.

"In his novel, Submission, Houellebecq addresses the issue of 'Islamization of France' and aims to convey to the French people how distant it is from European culture to have a Muslim rule the country," she said

The novel represents a situation in which a Muslim party upholding Islamist and patriarchal values is able to win the 2022 presidential election in France.

"Islam helps European society discuss the issues they want to talk about but haven't articulated. In Islamized France, the first thing the public wants to do is confine women to their homes, and this becomes a situation that the French are content with. Europeans who know the Islamic world only from the news presented to them believe that this is happening in Muslim countries," she said, talking about the novel.

Haliloglu said the extent of anti-Muslim sentiment in France is deeper compared to other European countries due to past traumas.

"Throughout history, the French have always been the most eager to spread their culture among European populations. The French mind doesn't quite comprehend a Muslim not fully embracing Frenchness. Behind this non-acceptance lie significant traumas.

“Even the deliberate separation of Algeria from France is a major trauma for the French. When you add colonial defeats to this, today's situation emerges. Anti-Islam sentiment in France is a way to suppress defeat,” she concluded.

*Writing by Esra Tekin in Istanbul​​​​​​​

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