Michel Houellebecq trial  

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"Je me suis dit que le fait de croire à un seul Dieu était le fait d’un crétin, je ne trouvais pas d’autre mot. Et la religion la plus con, c'est quand même l'islam. Quand on lit le Coran, on est effondré… effondré ! La Bible, au moins, c’est très beau, parce que les juifs ont un sacré talent littéraire … ce qui peut excuser beaucoup de choses. […] L’islam est une religion dangereuse, et ce depuis son apparition. Heureusement, il est condamné. D’une part, parce que Dieu n’existe pas, et que même si on est con, on finit par s’en rendre compte. À long terme, la vérité triomphe. D’autre part l’islam est miné de l’intérieur par le capitalisme. Tout ce qu’on peut souhaiter, c’est qu’il triomphe rapidement. Le matérialisme est un moindre mal. Ses valeurs sont méprisables, mais quand même moins destructrices, moins cruelles que celles de l’islam." English:

"I told myself that to believe in one God, you had to be a cretin..really, I couldn't think of another word for it. And the most stupid religion of all would have to be Islam. When you read the Koran, it is a devastating experience! The Bible, at least, is very beautiful, because Jews have a real literary talent..which can excuse many things […] Islam is a dangerous religion, since its very first appearance. Fortunately, it is doomed. First of all, because God doesn't exist, and even if one is a bloody idiot, one finishes up understanding that..In the long term, truth triumphs..On another part, Islam is undermined, under attack by capitalism. All one can wish for is that it [capitalism] will rapidly triumph. Materialism is a lesser evil. Its values are despicable, but less destructive, less cruel than those of Islam." --MH interviewed in Lire

"'Since the appearance of Islam, nothing. An intellectual vacuum, an absolute void. We've become a country of flea-ridden beggars. Beggars covered in fleas, that's what we are. Scum, scum!...'(with a wave, he shooed away some boys who had come to beg for small change). 'You must remember, cher monsieur,' (he spoke five foreign languages fluently: French, German, English, Spanish and Russian), 'that Islam was born deep in the desert amid scorpions, camels and wild beasts of every order. Do you know what I call Muslims? The losers of the Sahara. That's what they deserve to be called. Do you think Islam could have been born in such a magnificent place?' (with genuine feeling, he motioned again to the Nile valley). 'No, monsieur. Islam could only have been born in a stupid desert, among filthy Bedouins who had nothing better to do - pardon me - than to bugger camels. The closer a religion comes to monotheism - consider this carefully, cher monsieur- the more cruel and inhuman it becomes; and of all religions, Islam imposes the most radical monotheism. From its beginnings, it has been characterised by an uninterrupted series of wars of invasions and massacres; never for as long as it exists, will peace reign in the world. Neither, in Muslim countries, will intellect and talent find a home; if there were Arab mathematicians, poets and scientists, it is simply because they lost their faith. Simply reading the Koran, one cannot help but be struck by the regrettable mood of tautology which typifies the work: 'There is no other God but God alone', etc. You won't get very far with nonsense like that, you have to admit. Far from being an attempt at abstraction, as it is sometimes portrayed, the move towards monotheism is nothing more than a shift towards mindlessness."

"The problem with Muslims, he told me, was that the paradise promised by the prophet already existed here on earth: there were places on earth where young, available, lascivious girls danced for the pleasure of men, where one could become drunk on nectar and listen to celestial music; there were about twenty of them within five hundred metres of our hotel . . . To gain admission, there was absolutely no need to fulfil the seven duties of a Muslim, nor to engage in holy war; all you had to do was pay a couple of dollars."

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In 2002, a court in Paris considered a complaint by several civil-rights organizations about a remark by Michel Houellebecq, the author of the novel Plateforme. During an interview, Houellebecq remarked that Islam is "the stupidest religion." The court decided the remark could neither be considered a racial insult to Muslims nor an incitement to religious or racial hatred. The trial was reminiscent of Britain's Salman Rushdie affair.

Subject of the trial

Plateforme is the first-person account by a 40-year-old male arts administrator which features many sex scenes and an approving attitude towards prostitution and sex tourism. The novel's depiction of life and its explicit criticism of Islam, together with an interview its author gave to the magazine Lire, led to accusations against Houellebecq by several organisations, including France's Human Rights League, the Mecca-based World Islamic League and the mosques of Paris and Lyon.


Charges were brought to trial, but the panel of three judges, delivering their verdict to a packed Paris courtroom, acquitted Houellebecq of the charges of provoking racial hatred, ascribing Houellebecq's opinions to the legitimate right of criticizing religions.

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