Since the attack against Charlie Hebdo, France has been the scene of a veritable outpouring of Islamophobia: accusations of culpability, amalgams, violence. But the least that can be said is that the ground had been largely prepared. We could almost have forgotten, in fact, that on the morning of January 7, a few hours before the attack against Charlie Hebdo, the "special guest" on the morning programme of France Inter was Michel Houellebecq, author of a "novel of anticipation" in which a Muslim party comes to power in France in 2022: women sent back to the home, polygamy, the flight of the narrator’s girlfriend, who is Jewish, to Israel, to avoid persecution, etc. No cliché is lacking to describe an "Islamized" French society, a victim of the "great replacement" fantasized by part of the far right and by the ideologue Renaud Camus.
Police investigate a racist attack against a kebab shop.
We could almost have forgotten that a few weeks earlier, it was not Houellebecq’s book that was "front page news" in the press and in television and radio broadcasts, but one by another unsavoury character, Eric Zemmour, who has long made Islamophobia one of his principal trademarks and the "Islamization of France" one of his main battle cries.
Zemmour has the right to think whatever he wants, and Houellebecq has the right to write paranoid and stigmatizing novels. The problem is the echo their works receive and the way they are treated by the media, in other words, the normalization, the rendering banal of ideas, which though they are directly inspired by the Islamophobic far right, acquire the status of legitimate debate in society.