17 July 1913|
|Died||13 June 2012
|Era||20th / 21st-century philosophy|
Roger Garaudy or Ragaa Garaudy (French: [gaʁodi]; 17 July 1913 – 13 June 2012) was a French philosopher, French resistance fighter and a prominent communist author. He converted to Islam in 1982. Many of his books and ideas have been deemed controversial and he suffered accordingly in academic circles as well as in the law system of his homeland, France.
Early life, politics and religion
Born to Catholic and atheist parents in Marseille, Garaudy converted at age 14 and became a Protestant. During World War II, Garaudy joined the French Resistance, for which he was imprisoned in Djelfa, Algeria, as a prisoner of war of Vichy France. Following the war, Garaudy joined the French Communist Party. As a political candidate he succeeded in being elected to the National Assembly and eventually rose to the position of deputy speaker, and later senator. He became a leading party theoretician for the party and authored scores of scholarly works.
Garaudy lectured in the faculty of arts department of the University Clermont-Ferrand from 1962-1965. Due to controversies between Garaudy and Michel Foucault, Garaudy left. He later taught in Poitiers from 1969-1972.
Garaudy remained a Christian and eventually re-converted to Catholicism during his political career. He was befriended by one of France's most prominent clerics of the time, the Abbé Pierre, who in later years supported Garaudy, even regarding the latter's most controversial views.
Garaudy converted to Islam in 1982, later writing that "The Christ of Paul is not the Jesus of the Bible," and also forming other critical scholarly conclusions regarding the Old and New Testaments. As a Muslim he adopted the name "Ragaa" and became a prominent Islamic commentator and supporter of the Palestinian cause. He was married to Salma Taji Farouki.
Garaudy wrote more than 50 books, mainly on political philosophy and Marxism.
In 1996 Garaudy published, with his editor Pierre Guillaume, his most controversial work, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne, later translated into English as The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. Because the book contained Holocaust denial, French courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined him 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years. At his hearing, Garaudy stated that his book in no way condoned Nazi methods, and that book was an attack on mythologization and use of the Holocaust by Israeli government as policy, and as he said, as a "justifying dogma" for its actions, mainly in Palestine and toward Palestinians.
Support from the Islamic World
Following his trial and conviction in France, Garaudy was hailed in the Muslim world and received substantial financial, political and public support. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, 160 members of the parliament signed a petition in Garaudy's support. Senior Iranian officials invited him to Tehran and received him warmly. Iranian leaders condemned Israel and the West for bringing Garaudy to trial. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cited Garaudy for his work in exposing the Zionists’ "Nazi-like behavior." Iranian President Mohammad Khatami described Garaudy as "a thinker" and "a believer" who was brought to trial merely for publishing research which was "displeasing to the West.".
Garaudy has been praised throughout the Islamic World:
- In June 1999, Jordanian intellectuals named Garaudy "the most important international cultural personality of the 20th century."
- Former Syrian vice-president Abdul-Halim Khaddam has called Garaudy "the greatest contemporary Western philosopher."
- Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi stated that Garaudy is "Europe's greater philosopher since Plato and Aristotle."
- Garaudy was a co-winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Services to Islam in 1986.
- In February 2006, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah described Garaudy as "a great French philosopher." Nasrallah went on to praise Garaudy for exposing "alleged Jewish Holocaust in Germany" and stated that Garaudy "proved that this Holocaust is a myth." Nasrallah also criticized France for putting Garaudy on trial.
In later interviews, Garaudy stated that the attacks of 11 September 2001 were organized by the United States government. He also repeated his claim that the Holocaust is a myth, stating that the genocide of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War was "invented as a myth by Churchill, Eisenhower and De Gaulle" to justify the destruction and occupation of Germany.
In December 2006, Garaudy was unable to attend the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust due to health reasons. He reportedly sent a videotaped message supporting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's view that Israel should cease to exist.
Roger Garaudy died in Paris on 13 June 2012, aged 98.
Praise for Garaudy after his death
Following his death in June 2012, Garaudy subsequently received praise from a number of sources (as translated by MEMRI):
- Columnist Adam Yousef wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida that "Garaudy committed no crime. He merely pointed out that the number of Jews who lived in Europe during World War II did not exceed 3.5 million – so where did the [figure of] six million come from, on which Israel bases the myth of the Holocaust? This is a simple scientific question, [a matter of] proof..."
- The Iranian Fars News Agency called him "the first denier of the Holocaust myth."
- The Arab Writers Union in Syria, of which Garaudy is an honorary member, wrote that he proved that "truth and evidence-based credibility and scientific accuracy were possible."
- Tunisian writer Tawfiq Al-Madina claimed in the Syrian daily Al-Thawra that Garaudy had "exposed the false the myths of the Zionists and their false propaganda regarding the Holocaust..."
- Fares Al-Wabasha, a columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, wrote: "Only rarely do we encounter a prominent Western philosopher and thinker like Roger Garaudy, who supports Arab causes and exposes in a rational and scientific manner the shameful claims of the Zionist movement, undermining its colonialist enterprise in the region..."
- "Islamic Arabic Heritage: Connection between Past and Present". http://www.islam.gov.kw. Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs - Kuwait. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- "French philosopher Roger Garaudy dies". 15 June 2012.
- Tony Cross (15 June 2012). "From French resistance to Holocaust denial - Roger Garaudy dies at 98". RFI English.
- "Writer fined for Holocaust writings". BBC News. bbc.co.uk. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- IRNA, 20 April 1998 − DR.
- Tehran TV, 19 Jan. 1998 − DR.
- Iran, the Jews and the Holocaust by David Menashri (Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Director of the Center of Iranian Studies and Incumbent of the Parviz and Pouran Nazarian Chair for Modern Iranian Studies, Tel Aviv University).
- Roger Garaudy: Itinéraire d'une négation book Review by Amir Taheri, Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English), 4 November 2007.
- The King Faisal International Prize - Winners in Twenty Five Years (1979-2003), page 25.
- Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah: Implementing Khomeini's Fatwa against Salman Rushdie Would Have Prevented Current Insults to Prophet Muhammad; Great French Philosopher Garaudy Proved Holocaust a Myth, MEMRI – Special Dispatch #1088, 7 February 2006.(retrieved on 15 December 2008.)
- Organizations, Academics And Columnists In Arab World And Iran Mourn Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy, MEMRI, Special Dispatch No.4817, 2 July 2012.
- Maurice Cranston, "The Thought of Roger Garaudy," Problems of Communism, vol. 19, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1970), pp. 11–18.
- The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics by Roger Garaudy.