Health Care Reform

As Congress starts debating the Obama health care plan, an incursion into history may be in order. Years ago, in 1961,the Democrats proposed a form of socialized medicine. Concerned citizens mounted  Operation Coffee Cup Campaign against Socialized Medicine and then private citizen Ronald Reagan spoke out ( here) against socialized medicine in terms that all intellectually honest persons should ponder .Some years later,in 1978,in a speech at the Mayo Clinic, Milton Friedman provided a lucid,and still valid ,analysis of the consequences of socialized medicine on patients and the care to which one might think they are entitled but for socialized medicine see video here.

Clearly,those who do no study history are condemned to repeating history’s mistakes.

Secrets of the Vatican

Bernard Lecomte,former journalist with the influential catholic daily newspaper La Croix, author of a well regarded biography of Pope Jean-Paul II has just published an interesting book : »Les secrets du Vatican »(Perrin 2009).Lecomte is a fine connoisseur of Vatican intrigue and whispered secrets.

Starting with Pope Benedict XV’s desire to have the papacy regain a role in international affairs and ending with Pope Benedict XVI,the former Panzerkardinal, the author highlights « secrets » from the reigns of each of these eight popes. Conspiracy buffs will delight in reading why the Holy See has no interest in proving the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin but will be disappointed by the revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima, by Lecomte’s explanation of Pope John Paul I’s death ,by his views on the Roberto Calvi affair ( Msgr Marcinkus was not dishonest, merely stupefyingly incompetent in financial matters  and Calvi was likely in the clutches of the Cosa Nostra) and by his belief that the Bulgarian connection in the case of Ali Agça’s attempted assassination of John Paul II is a figment of conspiracy theorists’ imagination.

Students of parliamentary procedure will appreciate how John XXIII and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith battled for control of the committees (and their agendas!) for the preparation of Vatican II, how in the discussions within the all-important Theology Committee the high prelates pushing for the adoption of dogmatic-legalistic view of the Doctrine tried to thwart the biblico-pastoral views of the majority and how ,in fine,the Pope’s discovery of his terminal illness decided him to boldly go where no Pope had gone before in his famous opening speech Gaudet mater ecclesia.

Students of politics will delight in the description of the relationship between Mussolini and Pius XI that resulted in the Lateran Accords granting the independent legal status to Vatican City, in how John Paul II’ s political skills ( and accurate intelligence) allowed him to box in Jaruleski  in the matter of Walesa’s Solidarnórsć having correctly anticipated Gorbatchev’s reactions and will truly appreciate the beauty of John Paul II’s move to neutralize the Opus Dei by canonizing its founder José Maria Escriva de Balaguer in 2002.

That being said what struck me most is what the stories told by the author showed without expressly making the point: how at various critical junctures in history one finds men on the front lines of history and one finds those same men later ascending to the throne of Saint Peter.

For Benedict XV the Russian revolution presented an opportunity. For him, the elimination of the tsars, historical supporters of the Orthodox Church meant that there was an opening to help the Russian Catholics. To help him accomplish his goals of helping Russian Catholics and of restoring the papacy’s role in international affairs, Benedict XV relied on two nuncios Achille Ratti ( Pius XI) in Poland and Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII) in Berlin. The new Soviet regime was anxious to gain recognition and Benedict XV hoped to dangle the recognition card to secure the future of Catholics in the new Soviet State.

Benedict XV died and on February 6, 1922 Achille Ratti is elected as his successor taking the name Pius XI.In 1924, Pius XI continues the strategy of Benedict XV and sends Nuncio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, to negotiate secretly with Lenin and in 1925 Pius XI secretly reestablishes a catholic hierarchy in the USSR asking Nuncio Pacelli  to secretly ordain 46-year old Jesuit Michel d’Herbigny as a bishop for all the USSR at a secret ceremony in Berlin.

Of all the recent popes none has been more controversial than the erstwhile nuncio to Berlin, Eugenio Pacelli elected in 1939 as Pius XII,following Pius XI « who could see clearly and far » .Pius XI  had the courage to promulgate  encyclicals  condemning the « Action française » (1926),fascism (« Non abbiamo bisogno« 1931 ) ,Nazism (« Mit brennender Sorge » 1937),and communism ( « Divini Redemptoris » 1937).

Pius XII came from a long line of people close to the Holy See: his grandfather founded the Osservatore Romano and his father as dean of the Holy See lawyers negotiated the Lateran Accords. Pius XII was himself an experienced negotiator of concordats (Serbia 1914, Baveria 1924, Prussia 1929, Baden 1929) who after 12 years as nuncio to Berlin thought he could get to some form of concordat with Hitler.

The legalistic training of Pius XII is, according to Lecomte, the reason underlying Pius XII’s silence on the death camps.Lecomte recounts how UK ambassador Osborne gave a complete dossier on the death camps to Msgr Tardini on December 18, 1942 with the message that the UK and US governments suggest the Pope should use it for his Christmas message to the world. Pius XII refused to take sides not wanting to provoke Hitler any further and believed that he, like a judge, had a duty of reserve. Yet, he was not afraid to use the Church’s buildings throughout Rome to shelter the some 5000 Roman Jews threatened by the Nazis.

The infamous Finaly affair-Jewish child baptized as toddler to protect against Nazi extermination kidnapped by nuns to prevent return to natural Jewish parents and relapse into Judaism- saw the nuncio to Paris Angelo Roncalli ,the future John XXIII siding with the errant nuns while the Pope’s assistant Montini ,the future Paul VI tried to find a negotiated solution.

Similarly, the influence of those titans of the Church can be discerned in the experiment with worker-priests in France. None other than Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II, visits Marseille in 1947 to study the experiment of Father Loew: to regain traction with the proletariat more and more taken by the Marxist gospel, priests were sent to work as ordinary factory workers without cassock and collar. The future Paul VI approves the publication of an Italian translation of father Loew’s book on the worker-priests experiment.

The very same Paul VI wrestled in 1968 with the problem of contraceptive pills for Catholics. In 1930, Pius XI had authorized the natural Ogino method in Casti Connubii.The issue was whether a chemical method should be approved by the Church. Paul VI appointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts,theologians,medical researchers and –innovation-two catholic couples .The panel recommended the approval of the Pill, no doubt in part influenced by the Canadian wife, Colette Poitvin, who asked the panel’s theologians whether they thought God was more likely to ask a woman « did you love » or « did you take your temperature » ?Yet Paul VI hesitated and was finally swayed by the up-and-coming bishop of Kracow he quickly promoted to cardinal, Karol Wojtyla who had written a book “Love and Responsibility” on the meaning of Christian love. And so Paul VI went against his experts’ advice and issued Humanae vitae condemning the Pill.

Scandalmongers will no doubt be disappointed by Lecomte’s book but historians will be grateful for his lifting the veil of secrecy over many temporal/spiritual issues that confronted those eight most recent Popes.

L’obsédante préoccupation du faux chez Giorgio de Chirico

L’exposition Giorgio di Chirico au Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris donne l’occasion de passer en revue la carrière si contrasté de ce peintre :adulé pour sa première période (1910-1920) et vilipendé pour sa seconde. Notant « l’obsédante préoccupation du faux » du peintre, Thibault de Ravel d’Esclapon analyse les trois grands procès que Chirico intenta contre des collectionneurs au motif que les tableaux en question n’étaient pas de sa main, et parfois quand bien même ils l’étaient!

Tolerance,reverence and dhimmitude

During his trip to Europe,President Obama stated on several occasions [1]that his policy towards the Muslim world was going to be based on « mutual respect » going so far as to state in his speech to the European Parliament that he was going to show respect by « changing our language and our tone  » in our relations to the Muslim world.

At the G-20 meeting in London,Mr Obama put his money where his mouth is:he bowed deeply the  King of Saudi Arabia (see video )  while he only slightly inclined his head towards the Queen of England ( see video ) whom he met on the same occasion.

Is the Muslim world capable of treating with « mutual respect  » the non-Muslim world?

Daniel Henninger,the Wall Street Journal Assistant Editor-in-chief of the Editorial page raises the question underscoring the persecutions suffered by the Christian populations living in the Muslim world,arguing in conclusion that Mr. Obama should make tolerance vis-à-vis religious minorities the basis for « mutual respect ».

However laudable that goal may be,is it attainable from the Muslim side? An examination of Koranic doctrine and jurisprudence impels one to doubt it.

For Muslims,the world is traditionally divided in two: the dar al-Islam[2],the land where the Shari’a is the governing law and the dar al-harb,the land of the infidels ( mushrikun) [3] against whom the Muslims have a duty to wage war ( jihad) [4].As the great Muslim scholar and theologian ,Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) wrote : »For Muslims,the Holy War ( jihad) is a religious duty because of the universality of the mission of the Muslims and of [the obligation ] to convert all non-Muslims to Islam either by persuasion or by force. »[5].The inhabitants of the dar al harb ,the harbis, have neither  legal existence nor  legal rights to anything: they and their possessions may be taken by any Muslim without compensation as the harbis are not « persons » entitled to any legal protections.This doctrine explains why the two Washington Post journalists ,Valerie Strauss and Emily Wax,investigating the teachings in Islamic schools in the greater Washington ,D.C. area,found that in some schools, 7-year olds were taught that stealing from a non-Muslim was not a theft.[6]

Within Muslim lands,the people of the Book -Christians and Jews-have a special status: they are dhimmis.Since they are people of the Book,they are not to be exterminated on sight but may be allowed to live provided ,as dhimmis,they pay an annual poll tax ( jizyia) [7] and ,as stated the the standard commentary on the Koran, the Tafsir Ibn Kathir  ( 701-744) accept to be  inferiors to the Muslims and treated by the Muslims as inferiors and humiliated as such[8].The historian Bat Ye’or has written the authoritative books on the history of the dhimmis from the Muslim conquests of the VIIth century to the XXth century[9].From her research,it is established that dhimmis were barred from building houses that were higher than those of Muslims[10],from wearing green clothing,green being the color of Islam[11],from riding horses or camels with a saddle[12],from bearing arms[13],from ringing church bells[14],from building new churches[15].If the church was located in lands that had capitulated  then it was permitted to repair and maintain the interior of the church but not the exterior.If,however,the church was located in lands that had been subjugated then even the church’s interior could not be maintained.[16]

To live as a dhimmi has given rise to a neologism attibutted to Bat Ye’or, dhimmitude that was used by the then President of Lebanon Bashir Gemayel in a speech on 14 September 1982 at Dayr al Salib.In that speech,President Gemayel refused all attempts by the Muslim majority to subjugate the maronite Christians stating : »We reject any dhimmitude« [17]

Some will argue that the great Muslim theologians who articulated the rules of behavior of the dhimmis towards the Muslims and of the Muslims towards the dhimmis ,such as the Tafsir Ibn Kathir [18] Abu’l Hasan al-Mawardi[19] ou Abu Yusuf[20] are no longer representative of Muslim thinking and that in all event the dhimmi status was abrogated in Muslim lands.

On the first point suffice it to observe that the Tafsir Ibn Kathir is still taught today and that the great Islamic theologians ,Mawardi,Abu Yusuf or Ibn Khaldun are still authoritative today[21] as can be seen from the writings of Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi [22]or of Ayatollah Khomeini[23].

On the second point,suffice it to observe ,as Mr Henninger and Professor Bat Ye’or have,the disappearance of the Copts in Egypt,of the Christians in Sudan whose children are forcibly converted[24],of the Syriac-Orthodox church in Turkey,the great peril now facing the Christians in the Swat Valley of Pakistan after the government ceded control of the valley to the Talibans,the prohibition for Christian foreign workers in Saudi Arabia to practice their religion.Those example from among far too many others prove that the traditional teachings of Islam[25] are still followed today.After all,the prohibition against practicing any religion other than Islam in Saudi Arabia or in other countries ruled by the Shari’a is found in the Tafsir Ibn Kathir,in the writings of Ibn Khaldun and of Abd El Wahhab.The fate of the Christians  in Muslim lands is preoccupying in the extreme: even if governments pay lip service to the idea of religious tolerance,the exactions perpetrated by private Muslims against Christians are continuing in the avowed goal of either converting the « infidels  » or driving them away.

Numerous modern day Islamic thinkers  cite the early Muslim thinkers as authorities[26].The 1200-year old Islamic doctrine is clear on the rule governing the behavior of Muslims towards non-Muslims.Accordingly,is it realistic to think that traditional Muslims can truly treat non-Muslims with « mutual respect »?

Considering the age old Islamic doctrine,when the West parades its tolerance,doesn’t the West ignore a fundamental question,i.e.,how should a society espousing tolerance as a cardinal virtue deal with another society whose raison d’ être is to destroy it or to subjugate it[27] because that society- ours- is a society of « infidels »?

That tolerance should be a cardinal virtue cannot be debated by any person of good will but ,then, how can one reconcile the ideal of tolerance with the realization that many, following the teachings of the early Islamic thinkers and theologians discussed above[28],think that « infidels » must be converted by persuasion or by force and that all lands of the dar al-harb must either accept Shari’a or be subjugated?This is the yardstick derived from Islamic jurisprudence that must used to measure tolerance.

Dear readers: do you not think that the first duty of any society founded on principles of tolerance is  to take such steps as may be required -even if those might be viewed as contravening the principles of tolerance- to insure its survival as a tolerant society?If you accept those premises then a tolerant society is justified in adopting measures otherwise viewed as intolerant  because the obligation to insure survival as a tolerant society has a higher priority than the obligation to be tolerant.

Even though the road to hell may be paved with good intentions,let us give Mr Obama the benefit of the doubt in the relations he is trying to forge with the Muslim world and let us hope that he will have the will and desire to encourage it to evolve and be brought into the XXIst century.Let us further hope that Mr Obama,despite the protocol gaffe will not in so doing emulate the far too many Europeans,who ,because of a perceived need to be politically correct,have become dhimmis and refuse to criticize others,especially when the others are Muslims[29].


[1] Speech before the European Parliament in Strasburg on April 3,2009,Speech before the Turkish Parliament April 6,2009.

[2] For the distinctions between Ummah and dar al-Islam cf. Leon Brown Religion and State :the Muslim approach to Politics ( 2000) p.85

[3] For the  nuances between mushrikun ,who committed the sin of shirk and the kuffar(kufr=to conceal) he who denies God is a kafir ( a concealer) for he hides his disbelief  cf.,inter alia, Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude,p.197 and Jacques Waardenberg Muslims and Others (2003) p.192

[4] Peter Mandeville, Transnational Muslim Politics p.13

[5] [5] Ibn Khaldun The Muqudimmah,An introduction to history,transl.F.Rosenthal ( 1958) I,473

[6] Where Two Worlds Collide: Muslim Schools Face Tensions of Islamic, U.S. Views, Washington Post 25 February 2002 p.A01

[7] The source is Sura 9 verse 29 of the Koran which lays out that obligation in return for the permission,not the right,to live.

[8]

Paying Jizyah is a Sign of Kufr and Disgrace

Allah said,[حَتَّى يُعْطُواْ الْجِزْيَةَ]

(until they pay the Jizyah), if they do not choose to embrace Islam,[عَن يَدٍ]

(with willing submission), in defeat and subservience,[وَهُمْ صَـغِرُونَ] (and feel themselves subdued.), disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,«لَا تَبْدَءُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى بِالسَّلَامِ، وَإِذَا لَقِيتُمْ أَحَدَهُمْ فِي طَرِيقٍ فَاضْطَرُّوهُ إِلَى أَضْيَقِه»(Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.) This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace.Commentary on Sura 9:29 in the Tafsir Ibn Kathir: http://www.tafsir.com/default.asp?sid=9&tid=20986

[9] The Dhimmi:Jews and Christians Under Islam (2003) Islam and Dhimmitude:Where Civilizations Collide (2001),;Le Dhimmi:profil de l’opprimé en Orient et en Afrique du Nord depuis la conquête arabe ( 1980),Les chrétientés d’Orient entre jihad et dhimmitude,VII-XX siècle(1991) , »Dhimmitude past and present:an invented or real history »Starr Foundation Lecture,Brown University 10 October 2002 http://dhimmitude.org/archive/by_lecture_10oct2002.htm.

[10] The Dhimmi p.62

[11] Id.203,215

[12] Pact of Umar citd by Norman Stillman ,The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book ( 1979) p.157-158

[13] [13] David B.Kopel Dhimmitude and Disarmement 18 George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal 2008.This prohibition explains why the Christian and Jewish populations living in Muslim lands were so easily the subject of vexations and worse throughout history,as they were not allowed to defend themselves under pain of being declared blasphemers,an accusation carrying a penalty of death:cf.Majid Khadduri War and Peace in the Law of Islam (2006) p.193-195

[14] Id.59-60,196,341

[15] Id.57-58

[16] Pact of Umar ,Stillman ibd.p.99

[17] Lebanon News 8 No 18 14 Sept 1985 p.1-2

[18] Supra n.8

[19] Al-Ahkam as -Sultaniyyah.The Laws of Islamic Governance trad.Dr.Asadullah Yate (1996)

[20] Livre de l’impôt foncier Kitab el-Kharadj tranl. Fagnan Paris 1921 p.189

[21] Sherko Kirmanj The Relationship Between Traditional and Contemporary Islamist Political Thought ,Middle East Review of International Affairs,vol.12No 1 ( March 2008),p.69 et seq.

[22] A Short History of the Revivalist Movement in Islam (2002); »Political Theory of Islam »in Mansoor et al. Contemporary Debates in Islam:An Anthology of Modernist and Fundamentalist Thought(2000);

[23] Pour un gouvernement islamique (Paris, 1979), pp. 31ff.

[24] One cannot help but be reminded of the devshirme ,the enslavement practice of Christian children in the Ottoman Empire: Ye’or Islam and Dhimmitude,23,48,204-207

[25] Cf the teachings of the Tasfir Ibn Kathir or the writings of Ibn Khaldun

[26] Cf.inter alia,the reactions of Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on the meeting betweenthe  Grand Rabi of Israel I.Lau and Sheikh Tantawi d’ Al Hazar: http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Area=sr&ID=SR00398 et  Sherko Kirmanj The Relationship Between Traditional and Contemporary Islamist Political Thought ,Middle East Review of International Affairs,vol.12No 1 ( March 2008),p.69 et seq.

[27] Cf.Ibn Khuldun supra n.4

[28] Ibn Khaldun ,Tafsir Ibn Kathir  or Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab for par example

[29] Cf.the criticism levelled at Wim Wenders the Dutch parliamentarian for his documentary or at the Danish cartoonist.

Tolérance,Révérence et Dhimmitude

Au cours de son voyage en Europe, le président Obama a déclaré à plusieurs reprises [1] que sa politique vis-à-vis du monde musulman allait dorénavant être fondée sur un « respect mutuel » allant même à Strasbourg jusqu’à dire qu’il fallait pour  montrer ce respect « changer notre langage et notre ton » à l’égard du monde musulman.

M.Obama a joint le geste à la parole lors de la réunion du G-20 à Londres: il fit la révérence au roi d’Arabie saoudite (voyez la vidéo ici )alors qu’il ne fit qu’une petite inclinaison de la tête à la reine d’Angleterre (vidéo).

Le monde musulman peut-il accorder un « respect mutuel » au monde non musulman?

Daniel Henninger,, éditorialiste au Wall Street Journal, examine la question en soulignant que les populations chrétiennes vivant dans le monde musulman sont persécutées et conclut en recommandant à M.Obama de faire de la tolérance envers les minorités religieuses la pierre angulaire du respect mutuel.

Aussi louable que puisse être ce but, est-il possible du côté musulman? Une analyse de la doctrine coranique et de la jurisprudence permet d’en douter.

Pour les musulmans, le monde est divisé en deux: d’un côté il y a le dar al-Islam [2]-les territoires gouvernés par la Shari’a et de l’autre le dar al-harb -pays des non-musulmans ( mushrikun)[3] contre lesquels les musulmans ont l’obligation de faire la guerre [4]Comme l’écrivait le grand penseur Ibn Khaldun : »Pour les musulmans la guerre sainte ( jihad) est un devoir religieux en raison de l’universalité de la mission des musulmans et [ de l’obligation ] de convertir toutes les personnes à l’Islam par la persuasion ou par la force » [5]Les habitants du dar al-harb -les harbis- n’ont aucun droit: leur personnes et leurs biens peuvent être pris par n’importe quel musulman. Cette doctrine explique la découverte par deux journalistes du Washington Post, Valerie Strauss et Emily Wax, que des écoles islamiques de la banlieue de Washington, D.C. enseignent aux enfants de 7 ans que voler à un non-musulman n’est pas un vol![6]

A l’intérieur des territoires musulmans ,les peuples du Livre ( juifs et chrétiens ) ont un statut spécial celui de dhimmis. Les dhimmis doivent payer un tribut annuel ( jizya ) pour avoir la permission de vivre [7]conditionnée par la  reconnaissance de leur infériorité comme dhimmi par rapport aux musulmans et de leur vocation à être humiliés par les musulmans[8].L’historienne Bat Ye’or a consacré plusieurs ouvrages à l’histoire des dhimmis depuis les conquêtes musulmanes du VIIème siècle jusqu’à nos jours [9].De ses analyses historiques ,il ressort que les dhimmis ont interdiction de construire des maisons plus hautes que celles des musulmans[10],interdiction de porter des vêtements de couleur verte ( couleur de l’Islam) [11],interdiction de port d’armes [12],interdiction de monter à cheval ou à chameau avec une selle [13]interdiction de sonner les cloches des églises[14],interdiction de construire de nouvelles églises[15].Si l’église est située dans un pays ayant capitulé devant les conquérants musulmans son intérieur  peut être entretenu mais pas son extérieur!. Par contre si l’église est sise dans un pays conquis par la force des armes alors l’église ne peut pas être entretenue[16].Vivre comme dhimmi a donné lieu à dhimmitude-la condition d’être un dhimmi dans un pays musulman-un néologisme attribué à Mme Bat Ye’or et  utilisé par Bachir Gemayel,alors président du Liban, dans un discours prononcé le 14 septembre 1982 à Dayr-al -Salib dans lequel il refusait toutes les tentatives de la majorité musulmane de subjuguer les chrétiens maronites et  déclarait: « Nous refusons toute dhimmitude« [17]

Certains diront que les grands penseurs islamiques qui ont énoncé les règles de comportement des  dhimmis envers les musulmans et des musulmans envers les dhimmis, comme le Tafsir Ibn Kathir[18] ,Abu’l Hasan al-Mawardi[19] ou Abu Yousouf[20]ne sont plus d’actualité et que, de toute façon, la dhimmitude a été abrogée dans les pays islamiques.

Sur le premier point, observons que le Tafsir Ibn Kathir est toujours enseigné et que les grands penseurs comme  Mawardi, Abou Yousouf ou Ibn Khaldun font autorité encore aujourd’hui[21] comme en témoignent les écrits de Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi [22]ou de l’Ayatollah Khomeini[23].

Sur le second point, bornons nous à observer ,comme M.Henninger  et Mme Bat Ye’or l’ont fait, que  disparaissent  les communauté coptes en Egypte, les chrétiens au Soudan dont  les enfants subissent des conversions forcées, l’église orthodoxe syriaque en Turquie, que le patriarche chaldéo-assyrien de Mossoul est  enlevé et assassiné ,que grand est  le péril auquel sont confrontés les chrétiens de la vallée Swat au Pakistan suite à la trêve conclue entre le gouvernement du Pakistan et les talibans qui contrôlent cette vallée, ou encore qu’interdiction est faite aux travailleurs immigrés chrétiens  en Arabie saoudite  de pratiquer le christianisme .Ces exemples parmi tant d’autres prouvent  que la doctrine traditionnelle [24] est bien suivie aujourd’hui.  L’interdiction de pratiquer toute religion autre que l’Islam en Arabie saoudite ou dans les autres pays qui ont adopté la Shari’a se retrouve  dans les textes comme le Tafsir Ibn Kathir ou les écrits d’Ibn Khaldun ou  d’Abd El Whahab. Manifestement le sort des communautés chrétiennes en territoires islamiques est plus que préoccuppant: même si publiquement les gouvernements prétendent que la tolérance est de mise,les exactions perpétrées par les personnes privées musulmanes contres les populations chrétiennes continuent dans le but avoué de convertir ou de faire partir les « infidèles ».

Un courant non négligeable de pensée islamiste moderne se réclame des penseurs /juristes des premiers siècles de l’Islam [25]La doctrine  islamiste millénaire étant claire sur les rapports que les musulmans peuvent avoir avec les non-musulmans est-il réaliste de penser que les musulmans traditionalistes peuvent réellement accorder un respect mutuel aux chrétiens (et aux juifs)?

Eu égard à la doctrine islamiste , lorsque l’Occident se complait à faire étalage de sa tolérance n’ ignore-t-il pas une question fondamentale: comment une société tolérante doit- elle traiter avec une société dont la raison d’être est de la détruire ou de la subjuguer [26]parce que cette société est une société d’infidèles?

Que la tolérance soit une vertu ne peut être remis en cause par nulle personne de bonne volonté mais alors comment réconcilier l’idéal de tolérance avec la constatation que certains pensent encore ,à l’instar des penseurs musulmans traditionnels mentionnés ci-dessus[27] qu’il faut convertir de gré ou de force les infidèles et que tout pays du dar al-harb doit soit accepter la Shari’a soit être subjugué? Voilà donc dans la jurisprudence islamique l’aune à laquelle nous pouvons mesurer la tolérance.

Lectrices et lecteurs ne pensez vous pas qu’une société fondée sur la tolérance a comme premier devoir d’assurer sa survie ès-qualité de société tolérante? Si ces prémices sont acceptées, il s’en suit alors que ladite société est en droit de prendre des mesures de défense pouvant être autrement taxées d’intolérance parce qu’il faut assurer la pérennité d’une société fondée sur la tolérance.

Si l’enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions, accordons néanmoins le bénéfice du doute à M.Obama dans ses relations avec le monde musulman et espérons que qu’il saura encourager celui-ci à évoluer  et à se mettre au diapason du XXIème siècle sans pour autant, comme l’ont fait trop d’européens, devenir des dhimmis parce qu’il faut être politiquement correct et ne jamais élever la moindre critique contre l’autre[28] surtout s’il est musulman.


[1] Discours devant le Parlement européen à Strasbourg le 3 avril 2009 et devant le parlement turc le 6 avril 2009.

[2] Pour des distinctions entre Oumah et dar al-Islam cf.Leon Brown Religion and State :the Muslim approach to Politics ( 2000) p.85

[3] Pour les nuances entre mushrikun ,coupables du péché de shirk et les kuffar cf.,inter alia,Jacques Waardenberg Muslims and Others (2003) p.192

[4] Peter Mandeville, Transnational Muslim Politics p.13

[5] Ibn Khaldun The Muqudimmah,An introduction to history,trad.F.Rosenthal ( 1958) I,473

[6] Where Two Worlds Collide:Muslim Schools Face Tensions of Islamic,U.S.Views,Washington Post 25 février 2002 p.A01

[7] La source en est la sourate 9 verset 29.

[8] Cf.commentaire de Tafsir Ibn Kathir sur la sourate 9:les dhimmis doivent « être en disgrace,humiliés et rabaissés »: وَهُمْ صَـغِرُونَ.Sur les règles de comportement des musulmans par rapport aux dhimmis cf.: http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2566&Itemid=64: »Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated. Muslim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,«لَا تَبْدَءُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى بِالسَّلَامِ، وَإِذَا لَقِيتُمْ أَحَدَهُمْ فِي طَرِيقٍ فَاضْطَرُّوهُ إِلَى أَضْيَقِه»(Do not initiate the Salam to the Jews and Christians, and if you meet any of them in a road, force them to its narrowest alley.) This is why the Leader of the faithful ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, these conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation and disgrace. »Commentaire du Tafsir sur la sourate 9:29.

[9] The Dhimmi:Jews and Christians Under Islam (2003) Islam and Dhimmitude:Where Civilizations Collide (2001),;Le Dhimmi:profil de l’opprimé en Orient et en Afrique du Nord depuis la conquête arabe ( 1980),Les chrétientés d’Orient entre jihad et dhimmitude,VII-XX siècle(1991) , »Dhimmitude past and present:an invented or real history »Starr Foundation Lecture,Brown University 10 October 2002 http://dhimmitude.org/archive/by_lecture_10oct2002.htm.

[10] The Dhimmi p.62

[11] Id.203,215

[12] David B.Kopel Dhimmitude and Disarmement 18 George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal 2008.Cette interdiction explique les exactions dont furent victimes au cours des siècles les communautés juives et chrétiennes vivant dans les territoires islamiques:cf.Majid Khadduri War and Peace in the Law of Islam (2006) p.193-195

[13] Pacte d’Umar cité par Norman Stillman ,The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book ( 1979) p.157-158

[14] Id.59-60,196,341

[15] Id.57-58

[16] Pacte d’Ummar Stillman ibd.p.99

[17] Lebanon News 8 No 18 14 Sept 1985 p.1-2

[18] Supra n.8

[19] Al-Ahkam as -Sultaniyyah.The Laws of Islamic Governance trad.Dr.Asadullah Yate (1996)

[20] Livre de l’impôt foncier Kitab el-Kharadj trad.Fagnan Paris 1921 p.189

[21] Sherko Kirmanj The Relationship Between Traditional and Contemporary Islamist Political Thought ,Middle East Review of International Affairs,vol.12No 1 ( March 2008),p.69 et seq.

[22] A Short History of the Revivalist Movement in Islam (2002); »Political Theory of Islam »in Mansoor et al. Contemporary Debates in Islam:An Anthology of Modernist and Fundamentalist Thought(2000);

[23] Pour un gouvernement islamique (Paris, 1979), pp. 31ff.

[24] Doctrine exprimée dans le Tafsir Ibn Kathir ou dans les écrits d’Ibn Khaldun par exemple.

[25] Cf.inter alia,les réactions du Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradawi, chef spirituel des Frères Musulmans en Egypte sur la rencontre entre le Grand Rabin d’Israel I.Lau et le Sheikh Tantawi d’ Al Hazar: http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Area=sr&ID=SR00398 et  Sherko Kirmanj The Relationship Between Traditional and Contemporary Islamist Political Thought ,Middle East Review of International Affairs,vol.12No 1 ( March 2008),p.69 et seq.

[26] Cf.Ibn Khuldun supra n.4

[27]Ibn Khaldun ,Tafsir Ibn Kathir  ou Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab par exemple.

[28] Cf.les critiques adressées à Wim Wenders pour son documentaire ou encore les réactions aux dessins danois.

French influence in Korea?

The recent publication of Robert Cohen’s book « Turning Around a Bank in Korea: A Business and Cultural Challenge » got me thinking. Here was a Frenchman, who after a distinguished 25-year career at the old Credit Lyonnais (now Calyon after some Executive Life troubles that got it absorbed by France’s « Green Bank », Caisse Nationale du Crédit Agricole), including 10 years as CEO of Crédit Lyonnais -Americas and a 3-year stint as vice-chairman of Republic National Bank under the late Mr. Safra took on the challenge of becoming the CEO of Korea’s largest bank, Korea First Bank with a mandate to turn it around. His slim volume is interesting on several levels: what  cultural and business challenges did he face, and how did he meet them, running a bank when you do not speak the language, a bank where women with PhD’s in economics are bank tellers ,a society in which seniority and age are possibly even more important than in Japan, a country where unions demonstrate by banging on drums for hours on end in the outer office of the CEO, a culture where his wife was expected to address him in Korean as Your Excellency ( I suspect he did not object too strenuously, when in Seoul…),a country where 15-or 30-year fixed rate mortgages were unknown because people only took out 3-to 5- year floating rate mortgages, where people spend fortunes on credit cards and do not use cheques. Such were his challenges and meet them well and truly he did. Not only was he able to turn around the bank and make a big pile for the private equity fund that had bought the basically bankrupt bank from the Korean Government after the 1997 Asian crisis by reselling the bank to Standard Chartered but he was the first to break the glass ceiling for Korean women when he promoted a woman to the post of senior vice president, something that had never been done before in Korea. Not at all a bad record for 4 years in Korea.

Was Robert Cohen the first Frenchman to exert such an influence in Korea? Important though his accomplishments may be, another Frenchman, General Legendre, blazed the trail 100 years before him. While Mr. Cohen fought with unions, General Legendre fought for the Union. Charles Legendre, born in 1830, was educated at the College Royal at Rheims and graduated from the Sorbonne. He met the daughter of a New York lawyer, Clara Mulock, married her in Brussels, moved to the United States and became a citizen. When the War Between the States started in 1861 he enlisted in the 51st NY Volunteers, Infantry. He served with distinction , was badly wounded at the battle of New Bern, North Carolina on 14 March 1862, « a ball injuring both the corner of the jaw and the spinal process. » Legendre was cited for displaying « most conspicuous courage until he fell wounded. »Later, serving under General Grant at the Second Battle of Wilderness he lost his left eye and the bridge of his nose. That did not prevent him from directing the defense of Annapolis from his hospital bed against Robert E. Lee’s last raid. He was given the title of brevet brigadier-general upon being honorably discharged and was soon appointed US consul to Amoy in China (1866-1872).

After a difference of opinions with the American minister in Beijing, Legendre resigned from the US Foreign Service to enter the Foreign Service of the Emperor of Japan. For his role in averting a war between Japan and China over Formosa, the Emperor made him the first recipient of the newly created Order of the Rising Sun. After spending 18 years in Japan, Legendre was called by the King of Korea in 1890 to become Vice President of the Home Office of Korea and adviser to the Household Department of the King. He died of apoplexy in 1899.It is hard for us today, used as we are to living and working in a global village, what it must have represented for such a man as General Legendre to go to Korea, a country about which not much was known at the time, and become one of the most influential people after the King!

Two very different destinies for two men of French origin who, 100 years apart, by happenstance, found themselves exerting a significant influence over Korean affairs. History: plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.

François Guizot (1787-1874)

Canal Académie nous propose une émission sur François Guizot par l’historien Laurent Theis ,auteur d’une biographie de Guizot .Dans cette émission ,il fait ressortir les trois passions , l’enseignement, l’histoire et la religion,d’un homme ayant vécu de la Révolution à la Troisième République et qui  était membre de trois académies : française, des inscriptions et belles-lettres, des sciences morales et politiques.Pour écouter cette émission cliquez sur le lien: http://www.canalacademie.com/Francois-Guizot.html