Michel Houellebecq’s Submission: Author says novel imagining Muslim-run France is not Islamophobic scare story

Michel Houellebecq

The leader of France’s Muslim party has beaten the far-right Front National in the Presidential election, women abandon Western dress and leave work, non-Muslim teachers are forced out of their jobs and polygamy is reinstated – this is France in 2022 according to a new book.

Michel Houellebecq’s sixth novel, Submission (Soumission), has caused a national scandal before its release.

With the creation of the fictional Muslim Fraternity party and subsequent erosion of personal and religious freedom, critics have accused him of inciting Islamophobia with a far-right scare story.

Laurent Joffrin, editor of French national newspaper Libération, argues that Submission “will mark the date in history when the ideas of the far-right made a grand return to serious French literature”.

Its release on Wednesday comes less than three months before the French Presidential election, which has already been dominated by debates over immigration.

But Mr Houellebecq has denied that the novel was a “provocation”, calling it a “realistic” vision for a possible future…

  • Observer

    It is only a novel but one with a useful warning of what the future could hold.

  • As regards Houellebecq, I saw a long interview with him on French TV (A2) yesterday. I would not call him an Islamophobe, far from it. I would rather say he is toying with the idea of personal Islamic conversion, and not too averse that France might end up Moslem. Indeed, far from a cry of alarm, his book seems to be preparing the ground for just such a turn of events in peoples’ minds, which he sees as quite possible if not certain.

    • eMan14

      A scary outlook if it comes to pass. But why would any sane person consider converting to Islam in it’s current form?

      • He made it clear he found atheism scary, like a dead end.

    • John

      I didn’t see that interview, but I read a transcript of it. His proclamation that The Enlightenment is dead is not all that outrageous.

      Can The Enlightenment even be properly understood when the faith it sought to contain and reform, and reform of Judeo-Christian world view was certainly one of its vocations, is no longer practiced or believed in by Westerners?

      Europe’s great cathedrals, for example, confront young Europeans today as buildings that are totally alien and incomprehensible.

      Just one other thing: Does Houellebecq not have access to a barber?

      • Actually, the Enlightenment was somewhat hijacked by the socialists (and communists) in the late 19th Century – the latter was not inevitable.
        And indeed, the Enlightenment was far from truly or entirely enlightening, since at the same time as increased Reason and Science and Humanism, there were already expressions of deep Skepticism and plain confusion. The latter philosophical elements were seeds sowed from the start for the destruction of the Enlightenment.
        Enlightenment is not incompatible with a moderate form of religious belief (in God or in Spiritual growth), if that is not dogmatic on issues of material fact (e.g. Evolution).

      • H. is clean shaven. A weird guy really, seems to be quite world weary. Shrugged a lot in the interview. Spoke without emotion.