The Fraudsters of Islamophobia

June 2015

The slain editor of Charlie Hebdo hasn’t been silenced just yet. Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, one of twelve victims of Muslim brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouchi’s January attack on the newspaper’s Paris office, has posthumously published a book on the subject of “Islamophobia.” The absurdly titled Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia Who Play into the Hands of Racists is little more than an eighty-eight-page tirade aimed at those who question the satirical French newspaper’s secular zealotry, which primarily manifests itself in lampooning religion from a perspective that might best be described as extremist atheism.

To be sure, Charlie Hebdo isn’t worth supporting. The newspaper doesn’t deserve to be the icon of freedom of the press that it’s recently become for some. Frankly, it’s not even funny — like, say, The Onion. Nor was Charb some kind of hero or crusader for truth. In actuality, the Charlie Hebdo editor was an anti-religious, communist sympathizer; by all accounts, he was a first-class bigot who found all religions absurd and all forms of religious “extremism” (even the Amish?) to be dangerous. He held all believers in contempt, and he describes God in his Islamophobia manifesto as “the guy with the big shoulders who plays with our planet like a driver stopped at a red light plays with his boogers.”

Consequently, Charbonnier’s Fraudsters argues that all religions, including Islam, are fair game as targets of Charlie Hebdo’s derision in secular republican France. Well, that equal-opportunity insult policy is fair enough. But Charb goes too far by equating Islam with Christianity and Judaism.

“The problem,” he writes in Fraudsters, “is not the Koran or the Bible — soporific, incoherent, and poorly-written novels — but the faithful who read the Koran or the Bible as we read instructions on how to assemble Ikea shelves.”


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New Oxford Notes: June 2015

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