I have lived in Paris and, in my heart, I still live there. I go and come. This Paris is cherished by many Muslims as a key city in the current Islamic world. There’s no sense in continuing to think in antiquated terms, where the territories defined faith’s membership. Today, Paris is one of the many sites of Islam’s potency in the arts, spirituality, thought and music – an Islam far from the barbarian images that want to swallow it up. A Paris fertile for Islam, and also fertilized by it. It is the Paris of the many intellectuals who have fled totalitarian regimes, the Paris of the so-called “Islam des Lumières” (Enlightened Islam), as Malek Chebel, key thinker and editor of Noor (www.noorrevue.fr) has said about Islam and the contemporary world. It’s the Paris of ICI, the Institut des Cultures d’Islam (www.institut-cultures-islam.org), which hosts concerts, and exhibitions and also houses a mosque; it is the Paris of the venerable Africultures (http:www.africultures.com) and of such neighborhoods as Belleville and Barbès, with bookshops specializing in the Islamic world; of libraries and publishers boasting of authors essential to the reformation and reconception of Islam in the 21st Century. The Paris of elder Maghrebis strolling through Ménilmontant amid doves and social activists working for an inclusive city, despite everything. And this Paris, though it may not seem so, is one of the main objectives of the terrorists.
ISIS, so-called, is a colonial army and acts as such. Colonialism did not end in the middle of the 20th century, because it is a bloody and savage way of imposing ideas and ways of life. Every colonial army applies the same dehumanized and brutal measures. In this regard, there’s no difference between the praxis of ISIS and any other colonizer, from the past and the present: like the French army in the African colonies or Algeria which, among other acts of terrorism, decapitated resisters and put their heads on display, or the United States, whose chemical attacks in Iraq have had devastating consequences, including birth defects. In effect, this represents a desertion of human values and the (disproportionate) imposition of punishments on civilians (those who are most vulnerable, and who lie outside the conflict), in the name of civilization, human rights, democracy, Communism or religion. Labels that hide the dreadful colonial fervor of their authors.
The Paris of the arts – also of the Islamic art – home of thousands of peaceful and conciliatory Muslims, the city of diversity, is one of the staunchest enemies of the colonial longings and the armies that strive to carry them out. We should not fall into a false dichotomy between Islam and the West, when instead, we may adopt a grateful and respectful YES to life in contrast to the staunch and toxic NO that aims to oppress a world that is frightened and suspicious, docile and fractured. A world without that sacred place of unity and the love for plurality. Another Paris inside Paris, opposed to the segregation and marginalization that surrounds it, the factory of frustration and anger in this architecture of exclusion known as the “banlieu”.
Sarajevo, Jerusalem, Paris, Beirut, and many others represent (or represented) cultured cities with differing faiths where coexistence is feasible. Attacking the civilian population in Paris or Damascus, in London or Baghdad, is rooted in the same colonial logic and, therefore, can only be combated by abandoning it. Relinquishing its web of complicities and foregoing its perverse and distorted language.
There is a cultured, highly diverse, peace-loving, and spiritual Islam that is not the threat, but the threatened. Threatened daily and directly by this colonial army, which wears numerous different uniforms and flags. It is clear that the target is not the abstract mass called “the West”, but rather the links of affinity created between people from all faiths and backgrounds who resist the dominion of the fear and hatred, creating spaces for kinship with all possible efforts (the true Jihad) to transcend mere political and economic interests.
Dídac P. Lagarriga is a Muslim writer and publisher from Barcelona (Spain). His latest book, in Spanish, is Eco-yihad (Bellaterra, 2014) about the environment from an Islamic perspective. Web: www.oozebap.org/bilal
The Spanish version of this article was published by Webislam (http://www.webislam.com/articulos/107766-un_paris_amado_por_el_islam.html
), one of the main portals about Islam in Spain and Latin America.///Article N° : 13316