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Islamo-leftism (Persian: چپ اسلامی‎; French: islamo-gauchisme, Spanish: Islamo-izquierdismo),[1] adjectivally Islamo-leftist (French: islamo-gauchistes);[2] is a neologism applied to the political alliance between leftists and Islamists.

History of term[edit]

Essays in Libération and France 24 on the history of this term do not claim to find the definitive origin of this term, rather, both publications trace the term as far back as a 2002 use in New Judeophobia, a book by Pierre-André Taguieff, historian of ideas, who describes Islamo-fascism as a type of anti-Zionism popular among "the new third-worldist, neo-communist and neo-leftist configuration, better known as the 'anti-globalization movement.' "[3][4] Interviewed in 2016 by Liberation journalists Sonya Faure and Frantz Durupt, Taguieff is not certain whether he coined it or had heard it used, but he points out that the phrases Islamo-Progressives, and, in the 1980s, palestino-progressives were used as self-descriptions by the French left.[3]

According to Alain Badiou and Eric Hazan, Islamo-leftists was coined by French police for reasons of simple utility.[5] Al Jazeera claims that the term Islamo-leftism was coined by Marine Le Pen, who uses it "to describe what she considers an unhealthy alliance between "Islamist fanatics" and the French Left."[6]


French philosopher Pascal Bruckner understands Islamo-leftism as "the fusion between the atheist Far Left and religious radicalism."[7] According to Bruckner, Islamo-leftism was "chiefly" conceived by British Trotskyites of the Socialist Workers Party. Because these dedicated Leftists perceive Islam's potential for fomenting societal unrest, they promote tactical, temporary alliances with reactionary Muslim parties. According to Bruckner, Leftist adherents of Third-Worldism hope to use Islamism as a "battering-ram" to bring about the downfall of free-market capitalism, and they see the sacrifice of individual rights - in particular, of women's rights - as an acceptable trade-off in service of the greater goal of destroying capitalism. Bruckner contends that Islamists, for their part, pretend to join the left in its opposition to racism, neocolonialism, and globalization as a tactical and temporary means to achieve their true goal of imposing the "totalitarian theocracy" of Islamist government.[7][8]

Political scientist Maurice Fraser regards Islamo-leftism as part of a, "striking and recent abdication of the Enlightenment project of human rights, freedom, secularism, science and progress," on the part of the political left, particularly among the anti-globalization activists of the New Left.[9]

Bernard-Henri Lévy has described "Islamo-leftism" as, "this grand new alliance between the reds and the new browns, of the axis which runs from Le Monde diplomatique to the death squads,"[10] and as a sort of "anti-American religion."[11]

According to Mark Silinsky of the United States Army War College, Islamo-leftism is alliance of Islamists and leftists in opposition to Western values that can also be also referred to as the "red-green axis."[12] Silinsky characterizes the black-green alliance between Black Lives Matter and the Council on American–Islamic Relations as an example of Islamo-leftism.[12]

According to Robert S. Wistrich, "A poisonous anti-Jewish legacy can be found in Marx, Fourier, and Proudhon, extending through the orthodox Communists and "non-conformist" Trotskyists to the Islamo-Leftist hybrids of today who... (are allied with) the Islamist anti-Semites of Hamas.[13]

Alvin Hirsch Rosenfeld describes Islamo Leftism as, "the hope, entertained by a revolutionary fringe, of seeing Islam become the spearhead of a new insurrection, engaged in a 'Holy War against global capitalism."[14]

"Islamo-leftism" in Iran[edit]

Shireen Hunter credits Mahmoud Taleghani's reinterpretation of Islam in the light of Marxist theory in the 1970s with inspiring the "Islamo-leftist" group Mujahaedin-e-Khalq.[15] According to Hunter, one of the goals of Islamo-leftism in the Muslim world during that period was to combat the Left by borrowing parts of its platform, thus hoping to attract economically disadvantaged groups like the Shia to Islamic politics. The result of these developments was the left-wing "radicalization of Islam" and "the emergence of what could be described as a leftist Islam."[16] Hunter describes the way in which "Islamo-leftist intellectuals (the Mujahedin e Khalq) and Islamo-liberal intellectuals (the Islamic wing of the National Front and later the Freedom Movement) also directed anti-Pahlavi activities," which included guerrilla warfare.[17] Frictions later between the various Islamic groups that had participated in the Iranian Revolution, with Morteza Motahhari, a socially progressive ally of Khomeini being assassinated by an Islamo-leftist followers of Ali Shariati.[17] According to Olivier Roy, the three major Iranian political groups — leftist, Islamist, and Islamo-leftist — active in the 1970s had revolutionary rather than liberal democratic ideologies.[18]

Use in fiction[edit]

In his 2015 novel, Submission, Michel Houellebecq has Robert Rediger, the fictional character who is a convert to Islam and university professor turned politician, describe Islamo-leftism as "a desperate attempt by moldering, putrefying, brain-dead Marxists to hoist themselves out of the dustbin of history by latching onto the coattails of Islam."[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hermosa, Borja (26 January 2017). "Finkielkraut, contra el "neoprogresismo" y el "islamo-izquierdismo"". El País. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. ^ Guibert, Philippe (7 October 2015). "Il faut inventer la "politique musulmane" de la France". Slate. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Faure, Sonya (14 April 2016). "Islamo-gauchisme, aux origines d'une expression médiatique". Liberation. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Qu'est ce que cet "islamo-gauchisme" dont le camp Valls accuse Hamon ?". France 24. 25 January 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  5. ^ Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan (2013). "Anti-Semitism is Everywhere" in France Today, Chapter in, Reflections On Anti-Semitism. Verso Books. p. 41.
  6. ^ Ryan, Yasmine (6 April 2012). "French right focuses on 'radical' Muslims". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b Bruckner, Pascal (2010). The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism. Princeton University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1400834310.
  8. ^ Pascal, Julia (22 September 2011). "The Tyranny Of Guilt: An Essay On Western Masochism, By Pascal Bruckner, trans by Steven Rendall". The Independent. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Fraser, Maurice (11 November 2010). "Is the Decline of the West Reversible?". European View. 2 (2): 149. doi:10.1007/s12290-010-0128-0.
  10. ^ George Walden (5 December 2011). "Public Enemies; Two French intellectuals fight it out". New Statesman. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  11. ^ Bernard-Henri Lévy (2009). Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism. Random House. p. 114. ISBN 978-0812974720.
  12. ^ a b Silinsky, Mark (2016). Jihad and the West: Black Flag over Babylon. Indiana University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0253027207.
  13. ^ Robert, Wistrich (2012). From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel. University of Nebraska Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0803240834. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  14. ^ Rosenfeld, Alvin (2015). Deciphering the New Antisemitism. Indiana University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0253018694.
  15. ^ Hunter, Shireen (2010). Iran's Foreign Policy in the Post-Soviet Era: Resisting the New International Order. ABC-CLIO. p. 27. ISBN 978-0313381942. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  16. ^ Shireen Hunter (1998). The Future of Islam and the West. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 94. ISBN 978-0275962883.
  17. ^ a b Shireen Hunter (2014). Reformist Voices of Islam: Mediating Islam and Modernity. Routledge. pp. 42, 45. ISBN 978-1317461241.
  18. ^ Olivier Roy, chapter in book edited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner (2014). Democratization and Authoritarianism in the Arab World. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-1421414164.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Houellebecq, Michel (2015). Submission. Farrar, Straus, Giroux. p. 223.
  20. ^ Brass, Tom (2017). Labour Markets, Identities, Controversies: Reviews and Essays, 1982-2016. Brill. p. 79. ISBN 978-9004337091. Retrieved 19 March 2017.

Further reading[edit]