Leading French philosopher Michel Onfray has decided to withdraw the planned publication of a critical essay on Islam claiming that "no debate is possible" in the country following the Friday 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris.
Onfray, who attracted criticism in the aftermath of the massacre with a tweet saying that France brought the attacks on itself, scrapped publication of the book Penser L'Islam (Thinking Islam) in the country, which is still mourning the 130 people killed in cafés, restaurants and a concert hall by Islamist terrorists.
The book could be published in translation abroad in the coming months, Grasset publishing house, which owns the book's rights, said. "Everyone knows that Onfray is not a friend of religions, which he considers – as a man of Enlightenment – as diseases conductive to hatred, bigotry and denial of the body, " a spokesperson for Grasset said in October. "Islam is not an exception, on the contrary..."
The philosopher, who is considered a maverick among left-wing intellectuals in France, has long maintained that the West should not interfere in the affairs of the Arab-Islamic world and should let it sort out its own problems. According to his editors, Onfray read the Quran "very closely", and found in it "frequent apologies of violence and war".
"Citing several suras, confronting some interpretations, he places Muslims before the reality of a text which, besides sublime impulses also gives space to cruelty, hatred of women and spirit of conquest," it said.
Onfray came under fire after tweeting: "Right and left sowed war against political Islam, and now they are reaping it back."
Among the critical voices was Alain Finkielkraut, a French thinker, who said he was showing a Western-centric attitude in believing that everything that happened in the Islamic world was a reaction to the West.
"We have got to put an end to what I call this 'guilty conscience ethnocentrism'," Finkielkraut said. "The West has to drop this megalomaniac notion that it is it – the West – that in all circumstances is leading the dance. In fact there are other historical agents at work, with their own agendas."
Onfray's tweet was even picked up by a French member of Islamic State (Isis) in a propaganda video. The jihadi said that "we accept the word of truth, even from the mouth of the worst of miscreants".