The New York Times has published an op-ed piece by Algerian novelist and writer, Kamel Daoud, who was put under a Fatwa by Abdelfatah Hamadache, the leader of the Islamic Awakening Front, an “obscure Salafist group” in Algeria. Daoud is also the editor of Le quotidien d’Oran.
In a 2014 Facebook post that has now been taken down, Abdelfatah Hamadache reportedly called Kamel Daoud an “apostate” and “an enemy of religion.” The imam stated that Daoud is waging “war” against “God and the prophet,” and called for his public execution by the Algerian government, reports the New York Times.
Daoud’s 2014 novel, Meursault, Counter-Investigation, received literary praise and positive reviews, which resulted in the author being asked to speak on French television. His book was reported to have received two votes less than needed to win the Goncourt Prize, a prestigious French-language literary award.
Appearing on television, Daoud was quoted, “religion is a vital question in the Arab world,” adding “we need to reflect on this to move forward.”
Reportedly, the Fatwa threat was issued by the radical imam within days of a December 12 television appearance for Daoud. The author filed a criminal complaint, and the imam was said to become more “nuanced,” explaining the he did not claim that he was going to kill Kamel Daoud nor had he encouraged other Muslims to kill him.
In his latest New York Times Op-Ed piece, Kamel Daoud discusses the Islamic State or Daesh, which U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande have reportedly begun to refer to the terror group as. According to WAVY, members of ISIS would prefer to be referred to as the Islamic State because it conveys legitimacy. Conversely, Daesh is said to be a nonsensical word in Arabic, giving Syrians who have been victimized by the group the ability to “passively belittle” them.
In the New York Times article, Daoud refers to the group as Daesh. He describes a “black” Daesh, which he says is the Islamic State, and a “white” Daesh, which he says is Saudi Arabia. The author does not mince words.
“The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things.”
Daoud describes Wahhabism, practiced in Saudi Arabia, as an “ultra-puritanical” type of Islam hoping to restore a “fantasized caliphate… Born in massacre and blood.” The novelist explains his belief that Wahhabism carries a “hatred” of self-expression, and by extension, art. He calls the West’s denial of Saudi Arabia “striking.”
Daoud then tackles what he sees as the absurdity of those who contend that Saudi Arabia itself has been targeted by Daesh. He points to newspapers in the Islamic world writing that the West is a “land of infidels,” that the Paris attacks were the product of an “onslaught against Islam,” that Muslims are seen as enemies of the secular, and the “Palestinian question being invoked,” as being a “schizophrenic” situation that “parallels” the West’s refusal to address the issues he has raised with regard to Saudi Arabia.
The author asks, since “ISIS is a culture” not an organization, how are future generations to be stopped? Daoud describes Saudi Arabia as being the preferred Middle Eastern ally, comparing the nation to the “gray” Daesh: Iran. He has difficultly reconciling the West’s proclamations with regard to jihadism being the “scourge of the century” with what he describes as “no consideration” to how it was created, and how it continues.
Kamel Daoud describes the U.S. invasion of Iraq as the mother of Daesh and Saudi Arabia as the father. He says that until this is understood by western leaders that “battles may be won, but the war will be lost” and describes younger generations of jihadis being taught and inspired by the same books that taught the dead jihadis they will replace.
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