The Daoud Affair
24 Martie 2016 Lasă un comentariu
How Western intellectuals turn themselves into the enemies of an entire class of liberal writers from Muslim backgrounds
By Paul Berman and Michael Walzer
Last month the Algerian novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud astonished the readers of Le Monde in Paris by threatening to renounce journalism, not because he is afraid of Islamists at home in Algeria, though a fatwa has been issued against him, but for another reason, which is still more dismaying. He has been severely condemned by people from the Western intellectual class, and silence seems to him an appropriate response.
The denunciations of Daoud are a distressing development. And they are doubly distressing because they conform to a pattern that has become familiar. It goes like this: A writer with liberal ideas emerges from a background in the Muslim countries, or perhaps lives there now. The writer proposes criticisms of Islam as it is practiced, or of sexual repression under Islamic domination (a major theme), or of the Islamist movement. The criticisms seem blasphemous to the Islamists and the reactionary imams, who respond in their characteristic fashion. In the Western countries, intellectuals who mostly think of themselves as progressive make their own inquiry into the writer and his or her ideas. They hope to find oblique and reticent criticisms of a sort that they themselves produce. But they find something else—criticisms that are angrier and more vehement, or more sweeping, or more direct.