Roger Garaudy

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Roger Garaudy
Senator for Seine
In office
26 April 1959 – 31 October 1962
Member of the National Assembly
for Seine
In office
2 January 1956 – 8 December 1958
Member of the National Assembly
for Tarn
In office
21 October 1945 – 4 July 1951
Personal details
Born(1913-07-17)17 July 1913
Marseille, France
Died13 June 2012(2012-06-13) (aged 98)
Chennevières-sur-Marne, France
Political partyFrench Communist Party (1933–1970)
AwardsKing Faisal International Prize

Roger Garaudy (French: [ʁɔʒe gaʁodi]; 17 July 1913 – 13 June 2012)[1][2] was a French philosopher, French resistance fighter and a communist author. He converted to Islam in 1982. In 1998, he was convicted for several years and fined for Holocaust denial under French law for claiming that the death of six million Jews was a "myth".[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Roger Garaudy was born in Marseille to working class Catholic parents. At the age of 14, Garaudy converted to Protestantism.[5] He fought during World War II and received the Croix de Guerre. After a period as a Vichy France prisoner of war in Algeria, Garaudy joined the French Resistance working for resistance radio and the newspaper Liberté.[6]

Political career[edit]

Garaudy joined the French Communist Party in 1933.[7] By mid 1940s, Garaudy was considered a leading polemicist within the party.[8] He rose through the ranks and in 1945 he became a member of the party's leadership[7] and its Central Executive Committee, where he occupied positions for 28 years.[5]

Garaudy remained a Christian and eventually re-converted to Catholicism during his political career. Eventually he converted to Islam.[9] 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.[10]

Garaudy was expelled from the Communist Party in 1970, because he had criticized the party's position on the student movement and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.[7] His philosophical and political views were characterized as revisionist by Soviet commentators.[11] He had, however, accepted the invasion of Hungary in 1956.[6]

Academic career[edit]

He obtained a state doctorate in philosophy in 1953, with a dissertation discussing theory of knowledge and materialism, entitled La théorie matérialiste de la connaissance.[5] In May 1954, Garaudy defended another doctoral thesis, The Problem of Freedom and Necessity in the Light of Marxism, at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences.[12]

Garaudy lectured in the faculty of arts department of the University of Clermont-Ferrand from 1962 to 1965. Due to controversies between Garaudy and Michel Foucault, Garaudy left. He later taught in Poitiers from 1969 to 1972.[2]

His main research subject was foundations of revolutionary politics.[5]

Political and philosophical views[edit]

As of 1940s, Garaudy was critical of Jean-Paul Sartre's view of freedom, maintaining that it lacks any social, economic, political or historical context.[8] He criticized Being and Nothingness for what he deemed not going beyond the domain of metaphysical pathology, and Sartre's novels for "depicting only degenerates and human wrecks" and describing his existentialism as "a sickness".[8]

Garaudy's faith in communism was shaken in 1956, after Nikita Khrushchev made the Secret Speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[5] Afterwards, he espoused an eclectic and humanist view on Marxism, strictly opposing the theoretical Marxism of Louis Althusser and advocating dialogue with other schools of thought.[7]

In 1974, Frederic Will described him as sympathetic towards Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Gabriel Marcel. He held that the Western culture was something of a coalition between the idealistic philosophy and the elite class, which is devoted to turning man away from the material world.[13] The goal of socialism in his view was not simply economic or providing social justice, but also giving each individual their personal chances for creativity.[5]

Conversion to Islam[edit]

Around 1980, Garaudy read The Green Book by Muammar Gaddafi and became interested in Libya and Islam, meeting the country's leader on several occasions in the desert. He converted formally at the Islamic Centre in Geneva, an organisation managed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the time.

In The Case of Israel: A Study of Political Zionism (1983), Garaudy portrays Zionism as an isolationist and segregationist ideology that is not only dependent on antisemitism to nourish, but also willfully encourages it to achieve its goals.[14]

Holocaust denial[edit]

Conviction of violating Gayssot Act[edit]

In 1996, Garaudy[15] published, with his editor Pierre Guillaume, the work Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne (literally, The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics), later translated into English as The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. In the book he wrote of "the myth of the six million" Jewish victims of the Holocaust.[16] Because of this breach of French law concerning Holocaust denial, the courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined Garaudy 120,000 French francs.[6] He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years.

Garaudy v. France[edit]

Garaudy appealed this decision to the European Court of Human Rights, stating that his book was a political work criticizing the policies of Israel that did not deny that the Nazis had committed crimes against humanity, and that his freedom of expression was interfered by the French courts. At his hearing, Garaudy stated that his book in no way condoned National Socialist methods, and that book was an attack on the mythologizing and use of "the holocaust" by Israeli government as policy. He argued that his book dealt with the Israeli government's use of "the holocaust" as a "justifying dogma" for its actions, mainly in Palestine and toward Palestinians.[17]

His appeal was rejected as inadmissible.[16][18] The ECHR ruled that Garaudy has denied historical facts in his book which is not a research work. It also argued that the interference pursued two of the legitimate aims included in Gayssot Act articles and is not a violation of Garaudy's right for free speech. The ECHR did not use this rationale in Perinçek v. Switzerland.[19]

Iranian support[edit]

In Iran, 160 members of the parliament and 600 journalists signed a petition in Garaudy's support.[20][21] On 20 April 1998, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Garaudy. Khamenei was critical of the West which, he said, condemned "the racist behavior of the Nazis" while accepting the Zionists’ "Nazi-like behavior."[22] Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, insisted in a sermon delivered on Iranian radio that Hitler "only killed 20,000 Jews and not six million" and that "Garaudy's crime derives from the doubt he cast on Zionist propaganda."[23] Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, described Garaudy in 1998 as "a thinker" and "a believer" who was brought to trial merely for publishing research which was "displeasing to the West."[22]

In December 2006, Garaudy was unable to attend the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Tehran, Iran owing to ill health. He reportedly sent a videotaped message supporting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's view that Israel should cease to exist.[24][25]

Death and legacy[edit]

Roger Garaudy died in Chennevières-sur-Marne, Val-de-Marne, on Wednesday 13 June 2012, aged 98.[26]

According to Azzam Tamimi, Tunisian thinker Rached Ghannouchi was inspired by Garaudy in the early 1980s, after he read a translation of his book on women. He subsequently authored a treatise on women rights and on the status of women in the Islamic movement, partly influenced by Garaudy's work.[27]

Awards and honours[edit]


Books by Garaudy[edit]

The author of more than 70 books,[32][33] some his translated works include:

Books and theses about Garaudy[edit]

Articles about Garaudy[edit]

  • Maurice Cranston, "The Thought of Roger Garaudy," Problems of Communism, vol. 19, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1970), pp. 11–18.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "French philosopher Roger Garaudy dies". 15 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Cross, Tony (15 June 2012). "From French resistance to Holocaust denial – Roger Garaudy dies at 98". RFI English.
  3. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (1 January 2009). Holocaust Denial as an International Movement. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313345388.
  4. ^ Epstein, Simon (2012). "Roger Garaudy, Abbé Pierre, and the French Negationists". In Wistrich, Robert S. (ed.). Holocaust Denial: The Politics of Perfidy. De Gruyter with Magnes Press (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). pp. 85–107. ISBN 9783110288148.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Edouard, Morot-Sir (1980), "Garaudy, Roger (1913–)", The Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature (2nd ed.), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-03717-4
  6. ^ a b c d "Roger Garaudy: Veteran of the Resistance who later became a Holocaust denier". The Independent. London. 24 June 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Kelly, Michael (2005) [1995], "Garaudy, Roger", in France, Peter (ed.), The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, Oxford University Press, p. 332, doi:10.1093/acref/9780198661252.001.0001, ISBN 9780191735004
  8. ^ a b c Drake, David (2010), "The 'Anti-Existentialist Offensive': The French Communist Party against Sartre (1944—1948)", Sartre Studies International, 16 (1): 69–94, doi:10.3167/ssi.2010.160105, JSTOR 23512854
  9. ^ "French philosopher Roger Garaudy dies". BBC News. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Ce qui a fait chuter l'abbé Pierre", L'Express, 02-05-1996, (in French).
  11. ^ See Marxism and the Renegade Garaudy and Scientific Communism and Its Modern Falsifiers.
  12. ^ Wetter, Gustav Andreas (1960), Dialectical Materialism: A Historical and Systematic Survey of Philosophy in the Soviet Union, F. A. Praeger, p. 241
  13. ^ Will, Frederick (1974), "Roger Garaudy, the Hellenic Tradition, and Imaginative Space", The Classical Journal, 69 (4): 328–330, JSTOR 295973
  14. ^ Wistrich, Robert S. (2015), "The Anti-Zionist Mythology of the Left", Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 9 (2): 189–199, doi:10.1080/23739770.2015.1037579, S2CID 146147436
  15. ^ "From French resistance to Holocaust denial – Roger Garaudy dies at 98 – Africa – Radio France Internationale". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Writer fined for 'holocaust' writings". BBC News. BBC. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Writer fined for holocaust writings". BBC News. BBC. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  18. ^ Inadmissibility Decision in the Case of Garaudy v. France, European Court of Human Rights, 7 July. 2003.
  19. ^ Gorton, Sean (2015), "The Uncertain Future of Genocide Denial Laws in the European Union" (PDF), The George Washington International Law Review, 47 (2): 421–445[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ Black, Edwin (13 January 2012). "Denial of Holocaust nothing new in Iran / Ties to Hitler led to plots against British and Jews". SF Gate. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  21. ^ Litvak, Meir (2007). "The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holocaust: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism". In Herf, Jeffrey (ed.). Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective Convergence and Divergence. Abingdon, Oxon & New York City: Routledge. p. 331. ISBN 9781317983477.
  22. ^ a b Menashri, David. "Iran, the Jews and the Holocaust". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009.
  23. ^ Wistrich, Robert S., ed. (2012). "Introduction: Lying about the Holocaust". Holocaust Denial: The Politics of Perfidy. Berlin & Boston: Walter de Gruyter. p. 23. ISBN 9783110288216.
  24. ^ Taheri, Amir (11 April 2007). "Roger Garaudy". Asharq Al-awsat. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  25. ^ "The Real Challenge in the Middle East is Ideology". The Times of Israel. Jewish News Service. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Controversial French philosopher Garaudy dies". France-24. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  27. ^ Tamimi, Azzam (2013), "Rashid Al-Ghannushi", in Esposito, John L.; Shahin, Emad El-Din (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195395891.013.0028 (inactive 31 January 2024), ISBN 9780195395891{{citation}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  28. ^ a b Luc Cédelle, "Roger Garaudy : mort d'une figure du négationnisme", Le Monde, 15 June 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  29. ^ "Service to Islam | King Faisal International Prize". Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  30. ^ "Mort de l’ancien communiste Roger Garaudy, figure du négationnisme", Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, 15 June 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  31. ^ "Jean Ziegler refuse le «prix Kadhafi des droits de l'homme»", Le Temps, 2 October 2002. Retrieved 2012.
  32. ^ "Décès de Roger Garaudy, un ex-intellectuel communiste devenu négationniste", France Info

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