June 27, 2006
Denouncing the 'Islamofascists': Ambivalence & Rhetoric
As any regular reader knows, I rather despise the idiotic term "Islamofascist" as both technically inaccurate (at least for Sunni Islamists) and aesthetically displeasing. A bad, clumsy and frankly dim attempt to dredge up the misty memories of WWII and the 'good fight' against the Nazis. I'd have preferred if its pimps (notably Sullivan, who is often dim in this area) had chosen say a Commie reference, which given Arab Socialist influences on Islamist thinking in areas like economics, would at least have had some relevance to reality.
However, I noted that the controversial Moroccan French language weekly, Tel Quel has in its recent edition adopted the same sort of discourse as illustrated in its cover "The New Fascists".
Well, what can we say?
A moderately peculiar choice of rhetoric, one rather more rooted in European and American political discourse and culture than regional. I doubt Tel Quel is doing itself any favours here, but I am not the biggest fan of the publication.
As to the substance, well, again, as much as the moderately center left publisher has an axe to grind against the Islamists, I am not sure this is going to have resonance except in the most Westernised circles, which strikes me as a typical problem facing the modernisers and the center-right/left secularists. I don't see their mode of speech appealing to the masses, and I don't think they get it either.
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But L, unless they set themselves up precisely to be reformers, there is no need for them to appeal to the masses.
Posted by: Ali K at June 27, 2006 05:38 PM
Right on L. I like Tel Quel because it attacks head on many problems that do need to be confronted. Unfortunately, it often sounds like a French wanabe magazine rather than an intellectually critical publication. So unless you're one of those dumb I-m-a-cool-person who try to ape everything which has the appearence of French, you're likely to be turned off by at least some of its content.
Posted by: Shaheen at June 27, 2006 05:49 PM
It's a bit unfair to frame Tel Quel in those terms.
[re Ali K's comment]
Posted by: The Lounsbury at June 27, 2006 07:00 PM
Unfortunately, it often sounds like a French wanabe magazine rather than an intellectually critical publication. So unless you're one of those dumb I-m-a-cool-person who try to ape everything which has the appearence of French, you're likely to be turned off by at least some of its content.
It has covered and done some interesting things. But it's relationship with its own market often seems more than slightly ... expatriate. Of course, I often socialise with the very kind of people it appeals to, but they're not the sort who are going to drive mass socio-political change.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at June 27, 2006 07:09 PM
Can we consider this then.
Straight from the United States Department of Defense. If you to to this website you will see the criticism of its position:
Posted by: Bikhair at June 28, 2006 01:59 AM
As far as some people are concerned it isnt about Islamofacist vs. regular Muslims but between the classical interpretors (those Muslims who get it right) and those who shun violence inspite of thier religion.
Posted by: Bikhair at June 28, 2006 02:02 AM
L and Chahine-
Still I don't see why they have to appeal to the masses. If they are happy with their niche market then so be it.
Posted by: Ali K at June 28, 2006 03:34 AM
Gotta love the unwashed jalabeyya-clad fellows on the cover, and even the one suit has dirt on it, and everyone seems to have a zebiba. Are the islamofascists coming, or are the unwashed rustic hordes about to invade?
Posted by: SP at June 28, 2006 08:13 AM
Fascism properly speaking can only mean Italien fascism. Only "muscular" (read scared) liberals like Hitchens and confused idiots like Sullivan use it.At least Hitchens has an excuse being from the left which has thought of itself for fifty years being contra fascism.
Islamo-fascist is a contradiction in terms anyway.
The salafis are against nations and local cultures whereas fascism (which is not the same as Nazism) idolised the nation and the culture.
Posted by: Shamil at June 28, 2006 08:36 AM
I found the cover stupid and the article moronic and offensive -- frankly Tel Quel could use less "laic" posturing a more serious look. The article was meant to address the critics of the many festivals that have started up in Morocco and the Essaouira Gnaoua music festival in particular. What Tel Quel does is completely mislead its readers by giving the impression that the festival is under serious attack, whereas the Moroccan press reported on Monday that 500,000 (only 20,000 of which were foreigners) attended it -- a growth of 10% over the previous year. So it's not like the festival is really under threat!
Moreover, attacking cultural conservatives as fascists is facile, offensive, and hardly constructive. And while I like the cartoons, the crowd of people they represent aren't "fascists" but lower class people with conservative views. Well, if that's the way they want to comfort their wealthy, Casablanca-based readership, that's fine...
The intriguing thing is that only three weeks ago, Tel Quel's lead editorial was complimenting the interior ministry because it had been less brutal than usual in the recent round-up of Al Adl wa Ihsan activists. Basically, it approved their arrests (surely more "fascist" than criticizing a festival) even though Al Adl wa ihsan, while banned, is a non-violent group. After the 16 May 2003 bombings, Tel Quel was also part of the crowd that condemned all Islamists for the bombing, even though a small element that had nothing to do with mainstream Moroccan Islamism (PJD, Al Adl, Chabiba...) carried them out. It's extremely irresponsible journalism.
I dislike Islamists as much as any secular Moroccans, but Tel Quel's approach is hypocritical and makes you wonder about their connections with the security establishment.
Posted by: marocain at June 28, 2006 08:59 AM
what is that guy with the lute supposed to represent?
Posted by: Ali K at June 28, 2006 02:20 PM
He's objecting to music. It's one of Tel Quel's pet peeves with respect to the Islamists. They [ed: the Islamists] don't approve of Western style concerts, etc. with unregulated mixing.
As to appeal to masses, they don't have to, but they pretend to want to see reform, democratisation, etc. If you want democratisation, it helps not to be quite so special (the unwashed masses subtext that SP picked up on being one of the unspoken phobias of the elite).
Posted by: The Lounsbury at June 28, 2006 02:43 PM
Actually I see the commentator marocain supra very nicely captures my feelings about Tel Quel.
And rather more generally about the faux-liberal-when-convienent posturing in certain quarters.
[Ed: and the comment also makes me pine for Essaouira. Would have been nice to fly in. Stupid cancer.]
Posted by: The Lounsbury at June 28, 2006 04:07 PM
I don't know if this is relevant, since I don't know anything about Tel Quel. But in Europe, on the far left, the word 'fascist' has been cheapened through massive abuse. For those who don't know better, it has come to signify anyone strong and authoritarian. Fascist dad, for example. Car fascists. Meat eater fascists. If you wave the flag, it's fascist too. Football is fascist, of course. An acquaintance called the Proms the clearest example of British fascism today. He was a bit drunk, though.
Well, point made.
Posted by: Klaus at June 29, 2006 08:51 AM
What socialist influences do you see on Islammic finance?
Posted by: mas at June 29, 2006 10:42 AM
marocain, you're quite right about Tel Quel's hypocritical liberal posturing. I think that last year's issue commemorating the bombings of May 16, 2003 took the biscuit though (my memory falters, but I think that was the issue): Ahmed Benchemsi, Tel Quel's editor in chief, said casually, à la Mao Zedong, that you couldn't make an omelette without breaking eggs, in re the handful of deaths, the thousands of mostly illegal arrests and the dozens of death sentences handed out by kangaroo courts.
You might also like to know that Ahmed Benchemsi is part of the Daba 2007 ("Now 2007") grouping, launched by Noureddine Ayouch, head of the country's most successful PR-agency and personal friend of the King, in order to countain what is widely thought to be an islamistic landslide at the general elections next year.
Last but not least, in the "les nouveaux fascistes"-edition, Tel Quel abysmally fails to unerline that if it opposes censorship on religious grounds, which is perfectly within its rights, it should perhaps tell its readership that such censorship is on the statute books in Morocco, something which the islamists bear little responsability for. Rather than lambasting islamistic oddballs, someone like youth minister Mohammed El Gahs, a "socialist" "éradicateur", has some explaining to do as the government of which he is part adopted a media law punishing any speech or performance denigrating islam...
Posted by: Ibn Kafka at June 30, 2006 08:11 PM