Le collectif d’universitaires lui avait notamment reproché de véhiculer des « clichés orientalistes éculés » en réduisant les musulmans à une entité homogène et « d’alimenter les fantasmes islamophobes d’une partie croissante du public européen, sous le prétexte de refuser tout angélisme ».
Manuel Valls dénonce mercredi le « réquisitoire » dressé par ces intellectuels, qui « au lieu d’éclairer, de nuancer, de critiquer » condamnent « de manière péremptoire ». A l’inverse, le premier ministre salue la réflexion « personnelle, exigeante et précieuse » de l’écrivain algérien, auteur du livre primé Meursault contre-enquête.
« Entre l’angélisme béat et le repli compulsif, entre la dangereuse naïveté des uns – dont une partie à gauche – et la vraie intolérance des autres – de l’extrême droite aux antimusulmans de toutes sortes –, il nous montre ce chemin qu’il faut emprunter », juge M. Valls.
Curieusement, la « montée au créneau » de Valls en faveur de Kamel Daoud n’a pas été signalée sur SeenThis.
Je suggère au Premier ministre de s’en prendre également aux quatre universitaires (des femmes en plus, c’est à n’y rien comprendre !) qui persistent et resignent dans cette abominable « #culture_de-l'excuse » qu’est le #sociologisme !
We are scholars who have been analyzing and participating in activism on public sexual violence in Egypt and xenophobia in Europe over the past ten years. This article is born out of a deep concern regarding these media and official portrayals of sexual harassment and assault, using Cologne as a specific case. Beginning 10 January 2016 media portrayals of the Cologne sexual harassment and assaults deployed the notion of taharrush (“harassment” in Arabic) to establish a connection between these attacks and the collective sexual assaults against women protesters in Egypt since 2011. The term taharrush has been widely used by Western media and German authorities to portray collective sexual violence as a practice that originates from the Middle East and North Africa and is thus foreign to German and European culture. By connecting Cologne with Egypt in a highly misrepresented way, the media has been able to justify a racist platform against the continued acceptance of migrants and refugees coming to Europe.
(...) This culture of sexual violence is purportedly underpinned by a “great paradox” in this region, where sex “determines everything that is unspoken” yet “desire has no outlet,” as Kamel Daoud notes in his 12 February New York Times op-ed, “Sexual Misery in the Arab World.” Accordingly, the resulting misery “descend[s] into absurdity and hysteria,” which positions Middle Eastern and North African populations as exhibiting an unruly hypersexuality that ostensibly helps to explain the events of Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
The connection made between the sexual assaults in Cairo and Cologne as a practice imported from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe by an undifferentiated refugee mass found further traction in the Charlie Hebdo cartoon claiming that Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee whose family was seeking asylum in Europe and whose body washed ashore in Turkey after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean, would be a “groper” had he lived. Through the body of the male Syrian refugee, and by rendering indistinguishable the Egyptian and the Syrian contexts, the media not only presented an essentialized image of Arab/Muslim men but also promoted the more troublesome idea of an inherent biological compulsion among such men to become sexual deviants.
(...) The framing of sexual harassment in Europe as imported by immigrant populations and as linked to some generalized notion of Arab culture is powerful. It makes possible the kind of racist rhetoric that reproduces and reinforces a European sense of self as defender and protector of human rights (notably women’s rights and the rights of minorities). Meanwhile, it also projects an image of Europe as distinct from, and superior to, the culture of the migrants and refugees now flooding its borders seeking asylum from conflicts and structural inequalities resulting from decades of western interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. Here, Europe is positioned as a civilized site of tolerance and freedom, an idea underpinned by elements of the ideology that supports the “war on terror:” the notion that Muslim women need to be saved from a misogynistic culture imposed by “dangerous” Muslim men.
The idea of European superiority and of oppressive Arab men has helped to legitimize imperialist military interventions like the war in Afghanistan, exemplified in statements likeLaura Bush’s orCherie Blair’s, who justified this war as a fight for the rights and dignity of women. In similar fashion, with the increase in migration from predominantly Muslim countries, European women are also positioned as under threat from ‘dangerous’ Arab men, made all the more explicit in the recent publication on 16 February of the Polish right-wing magazine wSieci with the cover title “Islamic Rape of Europe” and illustrated with an image of a woman wrapped in the European flag, her blond hair pulled and her white body grabbed by brown hands. In particular, since the summer of 2015, stories of sexual violence and forced prostitution in refugee shelters and of sexual assaults in German towns, all of them supposedly perpetrated by refugee men, have circulated in online media, echoed by far-right blogs and news pages. This representation ignores that many refugees are escaping from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which successive European and American governments have been the primary aggressors, and which Tony Blair has admitted played a role in the rise of ISIS. Culturalist explanations of these sexual assaults therefore help to further legitimize, but also to conceal, violent and exclusionary foreign/domestic policies in relation to people from the Middle East and North Africa.
The Cologne sexual harassment and assaults can never be excused, regardless of the origins of their perpetrators. However, it is imperative to deconstruct the racist rhetoric that has singularly ascribed such forms of sexual violence to Middle Eastern and North African men, highlighting the politics this rhetoric obscures. Sexual violence has been both decontextualized and instrumentalized in Egypt and Germany in parallel ways, through slightly different means but with similar ends. In both contexts, the underlying intent of the politicization of sexual violence has been to deter and discredit either protesters in the case of Egypt, or migrants and refugees in the case of Germany and Europe. This politicization of sexual violence allows particular political actors, parties and movements to exclude those they denote as “other.” Instead of creating an environment free of impunity for sexual violence, such politicization continues to silence the voices and struggles of women whose experiences and activism are rendered invisible in the political arena. Therefore, it becomes far more important to pay attention to the forms of sexual violence that women across Europe regularly suffer and the daily struggles of groups seeking to combat such violence. Only then might it be possible to better understand and more appropriately respond to the sexual harassment and assaults that occurred in Cologne and other locales in Europe.
In addition, there is a critical need to discuss how the Cologne incidents have elided the very complex and long-standing situation of discriminations faced by migrant and refugee populations in Europe. More nuanced and detailed analyses are required to better understand Europe’s insecurities with respect to its minority populations and the deployment of technologies for constructing knowledge and policing that continually position migrants and refugees as a potentially criminal entity prone to such collective sexual assaults. Within this context, the politicization of sexual violence is not concerned with women, per se, but is singularly geared toward obscuring the voices of migrants and refugees that have long been making their way into Europe. It invalidates their experiences of poverty and war, obfuscates their need for assistance as a result of the role that Europe–as well as the US–have played in generating the politico-economic conditions and conflicts that precipitate im/migration, and dehumanizes them as people deserving opportunities to live safe and fulfilling lives.