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Holy war of aggression nowhere sanctioned in Quran, says French writer
Monday January 5, 2015 2:44 PM, Agencies

A French novelist, who had a few years back described Islam as "the stupidest of all religions", now said he found Quran much more better than what he had earlier thought.

Michel Houellebeck

Michel Houellebeck, best known in the English-speaking world for his 1998 novel “Atomised” and his 2001 “Platform”, after the release of his new book "Submission" Wednesday, said he had read the Quran while researching his latest novel.

"The Quran turns out to be much better than I thought, now that I've reread it — or rather, read it," he said according to the news agency AFP.

"The most obvious conclusion is that the jihadists are bad Muslims ... an honest reading will conclude that a holy war of aggression is not generally sanctioned, prayer alone is valid", he added.

Interestinlgy, "Submission", has been the subject of intense debate, particularly for its portrayal of Islam, ever since its release, and has stirred criticism from all quarters and been attacked widely by the French media and on social media.

France’s Muslim community too accuse the author of inciting Islamophobia in a country with Europe’s biggest Muslim population.

Leading the barrage is Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of left-leaning newspaper Libération, who argues that the novel "will mark the date in history when the ideas of the far-right made a grand return to serious French literature".

"This is a book that ennobles the ideas of the [far right anti-Europe and anti-immigration] National Front (FN) party," he added.

Not so, said philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, a member of France's prestigious Academie Française, who described Houellebecq as a man, "with his eyes wide open and who is not intimidated by political correctness".

Houellebeck however insisted that his novel was not right-wing "provocation".

"Submission" is set in 2022, at the end of a hypothetical second mandate for unpopular Socialist French President François Hollande, who is beaten in the first round of a presidential election by far right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen and the fictional Mohammed Ben Abbes, who leads France's first "Muslim Fraternity" party.

The French electorate, wary of seeing the FN take power, vote for Abbes, a Muslim moderate whose election provokes immediate and profound changes to French society.

Women change the way they dress and leave the workplace in droves to look after families, solving France's unemployment problem, while the book asserts that the resulting increased conversion to Islam kills freedom of thought in an increasingly patriarchal society.


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