A French author who penned a dystopian novel about a Muslim candidate winning the 2022 French Presidential Elections has been forced to defend his work on the same day Islamist extremist gunmen targeted magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Michel Houellebecq’s work entitled ‘Submission’, which is published today, tells the story of a future election where following the victory, the French people find their personal and religious freedoms eroded and women are forced to wear the veil, Euronews reports.
But critics have said said his work is nothing more than an Islamophobic scare story and a “gift” to the far right.
In the fictional work, the run off in the Presidential battle comes down to Front National leader Marine Le Pen with the left and right in France’s mainstream political movements clubbing together to back Mohammed Ben Abbes.
The book, the sixth work by the celebrated French author, is featured on the front cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo magazine, whose office in Paris was today the site of an attack by a gunman who, according to footage, shouted ‘God is Great’ in Arabic before murdering at least twelve members of staff including four cartoonists.
Critics have said the book is fuel for the Front National, who are scoring well in the French opinion polls ahead of the French regional elections in less than three months time, which have been dominated by debates over immigration.
But Houellebecq told interviewers that “She does not need that [help],” saying “Everything is going relatively well for her at the moment. I do not think that the book will change her destiny. I do not see any examples where novels (fiction) have changed History. Other things change History like essays or the Manifesto of the Communist Party, things like that, but not novels.”
Speaking before the devastating shootings in Paris, Houellebecq called his book “a realistic vision for a possible future”.
In an interview with state TV channel France 2’s flagship evening news programme he said, “It is a possibility – not in as short a term as in the book, not in 2022. But it’s a real possibility,” he said.
The book has an initial print run of 150,000 and has already shot to the top of Amazon.fr’s bestseller list.
In the book, the new president then proceeds to convert the EU to Islam along with the accession of already Muslim countries including Turkey and North African states.
Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of left-leaning French newspaper Libération, argued that the novel “will mark the date in history when the ideas of the far-right made a grand return to serious French literature”.
But his arguments may not be heard as France reels from the deaths of staff at the Charlie Hebdo publication in a country which has insisted on keeping religion out of state affairs.
Last month, a nativity scene in a French municipal building was ordered to be removed because it was a representation of a Christian festival.
It is also certain to add fuel to the fire of the protests in the German City of Dresden and drown out calls by Angela Merkel for people not to join in the protests against the Islamification of Europe, marching under the name ‘Pegida’ (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West).
According to latest reports, one Charlie Hebdo journalist has told Le Monde:
“These past few months we didn’t have any great concern despite the threats. Naturally, our offices were under police protection, which reminded us of the threats. Charb was under police protection but he moved around without his policemen, which was a sign he wasn’t worried all the time.