On the Cover of Charlie Hebdo: Michel Houellebecq’s ‘Islamophobic’ Book

Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2015

The offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked by gunmen Wednesday, leaving a dozen people dead, including the editor in chief and well-known cartoonists. {snip}

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The cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo features another figure well-known to French readers: Michel Houellebecq. The novelist, a provocateur and major prize-winner, has a new book out in France that has been accused of inciting Islamophobia.

Houellebecq

Houellebecq: “In 2015 I lose my teeth. In 2022 I observe Ramadan.”

“Soumission” is a novel set in France in the 2022, when, to counter the far right Le Pen, French voters elect a moderate Muslim president. Then the country quickly shifts into a Muslim-like state. In it, “women abandon Western dress and leave work, non-Muslim teachers are forced out of their jobs and polygamy is reinstated,” according to the Telegraph.

Houllebecq spoke to The Paris Review about the book in an interview published Monday. “Yes, the book has a scary side. I use scare tactics,” he admits.

“Like imagining the prospect of Islam taking over the country?” the interviewer, Sylvain Bourmeau, asks.

Houllebecq replies, “Actually, it’s not clear what we are meant to be afraid of, nativists or Muslims. I leave that unresolved.”

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A police guard has been installed at Houellebecq’s French publisher Flammarion. A U.S. publication date for “Soumission”–“Submission” in English–has not been announced.

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