Paris: World renowned French Muslim thinker Roger Garaudy died on
Thursday in the Paris suburb of Chennevieres after prolonged
illness. He was 99. He will be laid to rest on Monday in Paris.
Formerly a prominent communist author, he converted to Islam and
wrote several books which have been controversial due to his
anti-Zionist positions and denial of the Holocaust.
acclaimed as the most important international Muslim cultural
personality of the 20th century, Garaudy was the winner of several
prestigious awards, including the King Faisal International Prize
for Services to Islam in 1986.
His masterpiece – Les Mythes
fondateurs de la politique israelienne – was the most
controversial because of his boldness to deny the Holocaust by
calling it a myth and that it had not taken place.
Garaudy was born to Catholic and atheist parents in Marseilleson
July 17, 1913. He converted at age 14 and became a Protestant.
During World War II, Garaudy joined the French Resistance, for
which he was imprisoned in Djelfa, Algeriaas a prisoner of war
Following the war, Garaudy joined the French
Communist Party. As a political candidate he succeeded in being
elected to the National Assembly and eventually rose to the
position of deputy speaker, and later senator. He became a leading
party theoretician for the FCP and authored scores of scholarly
Garaudy remained a Christian and eventually re-converted to
Catholicism during his political career. In 1970, Garaudy was
expelled from the Communist Party following his outspoken
criticism of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
converted to Islam in1982, later writing that “The Christ of Paul
is not the Jesus of the Bible,” and also forming other critical
scholarly conclusions regarding the Old and New Testaments. As a
Muslim he adopted the name “Ragaa” and became a prominent Islamic
commentator and supporter of the Palestinian cause.
Garaudy authored more than 50 books, mainly on political
philosophy and Marxism. In 1996 Garaudy published his most
controversial work, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique
israelienne, later translated into English as The Founding Myths
of Modern Israel. Because the book contained Holocaust denial,
French courts banned any further publication and on 27 February
1998 fined him 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a
suspended jail sentence of several years.
Following his trial and conviction in France, Garaudy was hailed in
the Muslim world and received substantial public support. In Iran,
160 members of the parliament signed a petition in Garaudy’s
support. Senior Iranian officials invited him to Tehran and received
him warmly. Iranian leaders condemned Israel and the West for
bringing Garaudy to trial. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cited
Garaudy for his work in exposing the Zionists’ “Nazi-like behavior.”
Garaudy has been hailed throughout the Islamic World as “the most
important international cultural personality of the 20th century,”
“Europe’s greater philosopher
since Plato and Aristotle.”
Even in recent interviews, Garaudy
repeated his claim that the Holocaust is a myth, stating that the
genocide of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War was
“invented as a myth by Churchill, Eisenhower and De Gaulle to
justify the destruction and occupation of Germany. In December 2006 Garaudy was unable to attend the international conference to
review the global vision of the Holocaust due to health reasons.