The Tower of Babel and its Enemies – New Article by Álvaro Vasconcelos
Atualizado: 28 de Out de 2019
Álvaro Vasconcelos, GG10 Steering Committee Coordinator and Director of Projects with the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), has just published a new article in Lebanon’s Daily Star: ‘The Tower of Babel and its Enemies’ on the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
Mr. Vasconcelos writes that the heinous crimes committed this month in Paris have caused unprecedented civic debate, at a time when the ghouls of extremist identity politics – the xenophobic extreme right, radical Islamism, or anti-Semitism – have reappeared throughout Europe. Some claim that, “Je ne suis pas Charlie”, not wishing to identify with the satirical French publication, Charlie Hebdo while others use the attacks to feed their Islamophobia. Islamophobia is now the major threat to European democracy, fully rooted in the ideology of the extreme right, whose shadow sprawls across Europe. Islamophobia identifies Muslims as a “race”, arguing that Muslims are prone to violence and seek to dominate Europe, despite their minority status. In this respect, one key debate is about who those extremists who killed in Paris really are. The simplistic answer is that they are a foreign fifth column threatening Europe, but in reality, they are European citizens who have been radicalized in Europe. Violent Islamists are a tiny minority, alienated from their own Muslim fighting throughout the failed states in the Middle East.
The massacre in Paris was a crime against a city where multiculturalism is a fact. Its human, religious and cultural diversity make the City of Light a modern urban Tower of Babel – which is why the extremists murdered Christians, Jews, Muslims and non-believers alike. Multiculturalism in Paris allows the radical anti-clericalism of Charlie Hebdo, the rap music of the banlieues, cinematic masterpieces such as “La Vie D’Adèle” by Abdellafit Kechiche or extraordinary books such as Marie Ndiaye’s “La Divine” on the topic of identity. It allows conservatives of all faiths to live in the same city as defenders of gay rights. Of course, this cultural diversity is seen by some as a threat to the concept that many in France have of the country’s identity. But by accepting that diverse peoples can now join the French narrative, even though they do not share in a common history or the construction of the radical and unique concept of French secularism, the city can ensure fundamental rights for all, creating a community of citizens that, at the same time, protects the cultural and religious rights of its minorities.
The full article can be read here: