The French release of German-language bestseller Islamic Fascism has been cancelled because its French publisher was worried the book could empower the far right. Hamed Abdel-Samad said he could understand the decision if it were just based on security fears, but the author blasted publisher Piranha’s reasoning as “moral blackmail”.
Mr. Abdel-Samad’s book draws parallels between fascist and Islamist ideology, the Muslim Brotherhood, and goes back to the roots of the Quran. Its author, the son of an imam and former Muslim Brotherhood member, has become a critic of Islam.
Regularly featured in the German media, the Egypt-born writer lives under police protection following fatwas for heresy and death threats from jihadists.
Piranha‘s director told Le Point that recent terrorist attacks had changed his mind about releasing the book, the rights of which they acquired two years ago.
Jean-Marc Loubet said: “At the time, it seemed like an iconoclastic book that could spark debate, even if we didn’t necessarily share its ideas and it could lead to a historical simplification of Islam.
“But, after Nice, I have seen polemics increase among politicians and hate speech about Muslims. That settled things…”
Mr. Loubet rejected accusations of censorship, arguing that the book is available in German and English.
Mr. Abdel-Samad said he recognised the security argument and noted: “If Jean-Marc Loubet had finished his email there, I would have said OK and accepted this withdrawal without problems.
“I live under police protection, I’ve received death threats, and I can’t ask other people to take the same risk.”
The author explained that he strongly believes that “being fearful in the face of threats will not fix things”.
The writer added: “On the contrary, the more we are silent and the more afraid we are, the more brutal Islamists will be, because they only operate according to this logic: kill and frighten.
“It is the strategy of terrorism. But I would have understood the decision of Jean-Marc Loubet, because it’s a question of life and death.”
Mr. Abdel-Samad admitted to being furious with Piranha’s “far right” justification. The author told Le Point: “Jean-Marc wrote that he didn’t want to bring water to the far right’s mill.
“That is the typical argument of moral blackmail that I constantly find myself confronted with. I am a free thinker, who doesn’t call for violence, who doesn’t stigmatise Muslims – on the contrary, I defend them as human beings – but who attacks an ideology I consider violent.
“In Germany, I have the right, more than 200 years after Kant and 230 years after Voltaire, to publish these thoughts without having to be afraid. This is why I am so angry.
“I find it a dangerous way of thinking, particularly from a publishing house which, more than any other profession, ought to be the guarantor of debate and freedom of expression.”