LRB · Vol. 32 No. 22 · 18 November 2010

  • Ghaith Abdul-Ahad · Some Tips for the Long-Distance Traveller : How to Get to Germany · LRB 8 October 2015

    référence de 2015 mais le livre a l’air passionnant

    A Kurdish friend of mine in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq recently posted an image of a hand-drawn diagram on his Facebook page. With little arrows and stick figures and pictures of a train and boat or two, the diagram shows how to get from Turkey to the German border in twenty easy steps. After you’ve made the thousand-mile trip to western Turkey, the journey proper begins with a taxi to Izmir on the coast. An arrow points to the next stage: a boat across the Aegean to ‘a Greek island’, costing between €950 and €1200. Another boat takes you to Athens. A train – looking like a mangled caterpillar – leads to Thessaloniki. Walking, buses and two more worm-like trains take you across Macedonia to Skopje, and then through Serbia to Belgrade. A stick figure walks across the border into Hungary near the city of Szeged. Then it’s on to Budapest by taxi, and another taxi across the whole of Austria. At the bottom of the page a little blue stick figure is jumping in the air waving a flag. He has arrived in Germany, saying hello to Munich, after a journey of some three thousand miles, taking perhaps three weeks, at a total cost of $2400.

    #migrations #asile #itinéraire #circulations #migrants_voyageurs

  • « Une amère déception » Edward Said sur sa rencontre avec Sartre, de Beauvoir et Foucault
    Etat d’Exception | Eugene Wolters | 25 septembre 2017 | Source : Critical Theory. |Traduit de l’anglais par SB, pour Etat d’Exception.

    « Bien sûr, Sartre avait quelque chose pour nous : un texte préparé sur deux pages dactylographiées qui – j’écris entièrement sur la base d’un souvenir vieux de vingt ans – a loué le courage d’Anouar al-Sadate dans les platitudes les plus banales imaginables. Je ne me souviens pas qu’autant de mots aient été prononcés à propos des Palestiniens, du territoire ou du passé douloureux. Certes, aucune référence n’a été faite au colonialisme de peuplement israélien, semblable à bien des égards à la pratique française en Algérie […]. J’étais anéanti de découvrir que ce héros intellectuel avait succombé dans ses dernières années à un mentor si réactionnaire, et que sur la question de la Palestine l’ancien guerrier et défenseur des opprimés n’avait rien à offrir de plus que l’éloge journalistique le plus conventionnel pour un leader égyptien déjà largement célébré. Durant le reste de la journée, Sartre reprit son silence, et la discussion s’est poursuivie comme auparavant.

  • Who supplies the news?
    Patrick Cockburn on misreporting in Syria and Iraq

    The murder of 85 civilians confirmed by multiple sources and the killing of an unknown number of people with bombs and shells were certainly atrocities. But it remains a gross exaggeration to compare the events in East Aleppo – as journalists and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic did in December – with the mass slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994 or more than 7000 in Srebrenica in 1995.


    There are many similarities between the sieges of Mosul and East Aleppo, but they were reported very differently. When civilians are killed or their houses destroyed during the US-led bombardment of Mosul, it is Islamic State that is said to be responsible for their deaths: they were being deployed as human shields. When Russia or Syria targets buildings in East Aleppo, Russia or Syria is blamed: the rebels have nothing to do with it. Heartrending images from East Aleppo showing dead, wounded and shellshocked children were broadcast around the world. But when, on 12 January, a video was posted online showing people searching for bodies in the ruins of a building in Mosul that appeared to have been destroyed by a US-led coalition airstrike, no Western television station carried the pictures. ‘We have got out 14 bodies so far,’ a haggard-looking man facing the camera says, ‘and there are still nine under the rubble.’

    #désinformation #journalisme_lamentable #msm

    • Il y a beaucoup de similitudes entre les sièges de Mossoul et d’Alep oriental, mais ils ont été rapportés très différemment. Quand des civils sont tués ou leurs maisons détruites pendant le bombardement mené par les Etats-Unis à Mossoul, c’est l’État islamique qui est censé être responsable de leur mort : ils étaient déployés comme boucliers humains. Quand la Russie ou la Syrie vise des bâtiments à Aleppo Est, la Russie ou la Syrie est blâmée : les rebelles n’y ont rien à voir. Des images déchirantes d’East Aleppo montrant des enfants morts, blessés et coquilliers ont été diffusées dans le monde entier. Mais quand, le 12 janvier, une vidéo a été affichée en ligne montrant des personnes cherchant des corps dans les ruines d’un bâtiment à Mossoul qui semblait avoir été détruit par une attaque aérienne de la coalition dirigée par les États-Unis, aucune station de télévision occidentale n’a porté les images. « Nous avons sorti 14 corps jusqu’à présent », dit un homme hagard qui regarde la caméra, « et il y en a encore neuf sous les décombres »


  • Rebecca Solnit · From Lying to Leering : Penis Power · LRB 19 January 2017

    ‘One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome,’ Mark Lilla wrote in the New York Times, ‘is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end,’ and he condemned Clinton for calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop. ‘This,’ he said, ‘was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them.’ Who’s not on that list, though it’s one that actually covers the majority of Americans? Heterosexual white men, notably, since it’s hard to imagine Lilla was put out that Clinton neglected Asians and Native Americans.

    Rejoint les réflexions de Jerome Karabel dans le @mdiplo de décembre, « Comment perdre une élection »

    #individu #identité #néolibéralisme #minorités (via @Lindgaard)

  • It was bizarre to watch #Samantha_Power at the UN conveniently forget to mention all the massacres done in America’s name

    So there was Samantha Power doing her “shame” bit in the UN. “Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?”, America’s ambassador to the UN asked the Russians and Syrians and Iranians. She spoke of Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica “and, now, Aleppo”.

    Odd, that. For when Samantha talked about “barbarism against civilians” in Aleppo, I remembered climbing over the dead Palestinian civilians massacred at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, slaughtered by Israel’s Lebanese militia friends while the Israeli army – Washington’s most powerful ally in the Middle East – watched. But Samantha didn’t mention them. Not enough dead Palestinians, perhaps? Only 1,700 killed, including women and children. Halabja was up to 5,000 dead. But Sabra and Chatila certainly “creeped me out” at the time.

    And then I recalled the monstrous American invasion of Iraq. Perhaps half a million dead. It’s one of the statistics for Rwanda’s dead. Certainly far more than Srebrenica’s 9,000 dead. And I can tell you that Iraq’s half million dead “creeped me out” rather a lot, not to mention the torture and murders in the CIA’s interrogation centres in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq. It also “creeped me out” to learn that the US president used to send innocent prisoners off to be interrogated in... Assad’s Syria! Yes, they were sent by Washington to be questioned in what Samantha now calls Syria’s “Gulags”.

    #amnésie #Etats-Unis

  • Stop Blaming #Migrants

    This is the challenge facing the progressive left. Now more than ever, it’s the job of the left to trust that the majority of the population is not racist, and move away from the notion that more immigration controls are necessary, possible or desirable. The progressive response to a populist right-wing surge is to take away their fuel – fight to alleviate the economic pain it thrives on, and reject the division it creates. When the new Ukip leader says he wants to replace Labour and make his party ‘the patriotic voice of working people’, the progressive line is to redirect the blame away from migrants and onto political decisions, to focus on fighting poverty and creating secure jobs, not to patronise people by suggesting everything can be made better with a bit of ‘patriotism’. It’s a hard line to take and will be met with ridicule and attack. But that’s to be expected. That’s what challenging a dominant political narrative looks like.

    But if the left doesn’t hold a line, it enables the surge of nativist nationalism by conceding ground, allowing the debate to shift ever rightwards. Fo we really want to find out where it all ends? Do we really want to see how far right we can go?

    #gauche #extrême_droite

  • #Partenariats_publics_privés : les hôpitaux britanniques n’arrivent pas à payer la facture

    Article de 2012

    Dans ces conditions, comment expliquer la multiplication des PPP depuis vingt ans ? Cela permet tout simplement au gouvernement de maquiller ses comptes, puisque les contrats public-privé n’apparaissent pas dans les dettes de l’Etat. « Les PFI permettent d’obtenir quelque chose maintenant et de payer plus tard, accuse Andrew Tyrie, député conservateur et président du comité parlementaire au Trésor. On comprend pourquoi n’importe quel ministère en devient accro. Mais on ne peut pas continuer comme cela, en espérant que la prochaine génération de contribuables paiera l’addition. »

  • Is this how democracy ends ?

    The Clinton campaign, which included Obama in the later stages, made it sound as though Trump were a genuine outlier from basic democratic norms, capable of tearing the whole thing down were he to triumph. In the second presidential debate, Clinton effectively accused him of working for a hostile foreign power, of being a stooge of the Russian regime. Had that been true, then the national security state ought by now to be swinging into action in order to protect the republic. Generals appearing on television to take charge would be an appropriate response to the risk of the nuclear codes falling into enemy hands. Instead, the American state has pivoted as rapidly as it normally does to accommodate its new master and to offer its services to his cause, in the hope of making that cause reasonably effective. Obama came on television to insist that he wishes Trump well, because if Trump succeeds then America succeeds. This suggests that the people who voted for him were right to suspect that the system would do everything in its power to soften the blow of their choice. It also means that if Trump poses a serious threat to American democracy, we lack the language to express it.


    Trump is a child, the most childish politician I have encountered in my lifetime. The parent in this relationship is the American state itself, which allows the voters to throw a tantrum and join forces with the worst behaved kid in the class, safe in the knowledge that the grown-ups will always be there to pick up the pieces.

    This is where the real risks lie. It is not possible to keep behaving like this without damaging the basic machinery of democratic government. It takes an extraordinarily fine-tuned political intelligence to target popular anger at the parts of the state that need reform while leaving intact the parts that make that reform possible. Trump – and indeed Brexit – are not that. They are the bluntest of instruments, indiscriminately shaking the foundations with nothing to offer by way of support. Under these conditions, the likeliest response is for the grown-ups in the room to hunker down, waiting for the storm to pass. While they do, politics atrophies and necessary change is put off by the overriding imperative of avoiding systemic collapse. The understandable desire to keep the tanks off the streets and the cashpoints open gets in the way of tackling the long-term threats we face. Fake disruption followed by institutional paralysis, and all the while the real dangers continue to mount. Ultimately, that is how democracy ends.

    #Etats-Unis #démocratie

  • Islamic State v. al-Qaida
    Owen Bennett-Jones

    For Paul Rogers, violent jihadism is a symptom first and foremost of global inequality, a revolt from the margins by people who see no evidence that increases in total global wealth are a benefit to them. On the contrary, improvements in education and mass communication only mean that they can appreciate more clearly the extent of their disadvantage and marginalisation. In that sense they are not all that different from the Naxalites in India, the Maoists in Nepal and Peru and the Zapatistas in Mexico.

    There are other, on the face of it more surprising, non-religious sources of jihadi violence. The jihadists may have severely disrupted the international system of nation states, but they have had support in doing so from ‘enemy’ governments. The story of the United States and Saudi Arabia helping Osama bin Laden fight the Soviets in Afghanistan is now familiar. Iran supported Zarqawi in Iraq, tolerating his slaughter of Shias because he offered the most effective opposition to the US occupation of Iraq. Syria took the same view, allowing al-Qaida in Iraq’s fighters to slip across the border. One of Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails reveals that as recently as 2014 she believed Qatar and Saudi Arabia were providing ‘clandestine financial and logistic support’ to IS. Turkey also helped both organisations in Syria in the hope that they would oust Assad. Even Assad himself helped them. Calculating that the jihadists would not have the strength to oust him, he released them from jail, bought oil from IS and bombed the Free Syrian Army while leaving IS positions alone. Assad’s idea was to scare either the Americans or the Russians into defending his regime. Putin took the bait.

    These policies generally turn sour. A direct line can be drawn from American support for the Afghan Mujahidin to 9/11. Iran’s backing of Zarqawi may have helped Tehran gain influence in the power vacuum left by America’s withdrawal from Iraq, but the Iranians now find themselves having to raise militias to confront IS. Assad and Erdoğan both believed that, having used the violent jihadis to further their purposes in Syria, they could dispose of them when they were no longer needed. Whether that will be as easy as Ankara and Damascus hope remains an open question.

    There is another aspect to these machinations. Governments of all types reckon it is better to export violent jihadism than to experience it at home. The Saudis have been the most brazen advocates of this policy but before 9/11 many Middle Eastern governments complained that the UK offered sanctuary to Islamists in the hope that London would not be attacked. And papers captured in Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad hideout revealed that the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, offered al-Qaida a restoration of good relations with the Pakistan government in return for no attacks in his province.

    #apprentis_sorciers #mėdiocrité_meurtrière

  • Le revenu garanti et ses faux amis, par @Mona Chollet

    Du Forum économique de Davos à la Silicon Valley en passant par les assemblées du mouvement Nuit debout en France, le revenu de base est sur toutes les lèvres depuis quelques mois. La Finlande affirme vouloir l’instaurer ; les Suisses ont voté sur le sujet en juin. Mais, entre l’utopie émancipatrice que portent certains et la réforme limitée que veulent les autres, il y a un monde…

  • Burning Man : au commencement étaient les makers : Makery

    Les deux communautés ont en effet bien des choses en commun : nées dans la baie de San Francisco, les deux composent une communauté technophile et sont attirées par le recyclage, les énergies propres et l’apprentissage collaboratif et le do it together.


    « Burning Man est devenu un endroit incroyablement riche pour le réseautage sur les thèmes de l’art et des makers, pour tester des projets en béta dans un environnement sans merci, pour permettre aux techno-fétichistes de créer des liens en faisant la fête. Et, tout aussi important, le “comment font-ils ça ?” se change très rapidement en “je peux le faire aussi”. Ce qui, vraiment, résume le mouvement maker. »

    #BurningMan #DIY #makers

  • Perry Anderson, Mai 2014

    Via @FrankPasquale sur Twitter,

    Elites freed from either real division above, or significant accountability below, can afford to enrich themselves without distraction or retribution. Exposure ceases to matter very much, as impunity becomes the rule. Like bankers, leading politicians do not go to prison. Of the fauna above, only an elderly Greek has ever suffered that indignity. But #corruption is not just a function of the decline of the political order. It is also, of course, a symptom of the economic regime that has taken hold of Europe since the 1980s. In a neoliberal universe, where markets are the gauge of value, money becomes, more straightforwardly than ever before, the measure of all things. If hospitals, schools and prisons can be privatised as enterprises for profit, why not political office too?


  • Sisi’s New Prisons « LRB blog
    Omar Robert Hamilton 14 July 2016

    I hadn’t seen Alaa for two years. Two years since we stood at his father’s funeral on the marble stairs of Omar Makram mosque. Two years since he was muscled by plainclothes police into an unmarked car back to prison. My cousin has been in prison for almost as long as Sisi has ruled Egypt. He was sentenced to five years for organising a protest. This month I was allowed to visit him.
    Torah prison complex is built like a medieval fortress city. An outer wall rings a vast area that includes several prisons of varying horror, administrative buildings, farmland, a police academy and, now, a courthouse. We carried bags heavy with food and clean clothes up to the prison walls. We waited with the other visitors in the dusty runnels beside the cement blast walls for the man in black uniform to to drop his leg and let us pass. We sat on the metal seats of a brightly painted road train dragged by a tractor into the penal complex. ‘This is new,’ my aunt Laila said, gesturing at a grey concrete wall. ‘I think it’s maximum security.’ The train lurched forward.

  • Naomi Klein · Let Them Drown · LRB 2 June 2016

    Just as bombs follow oil, and drones follow drought, so boats follow both: boats filled with refugees fleeing homes on the aridity line ravaged by war and drought. And the same capacity for dehumanising the other that justified the bombs and drones is now being trained on these migrants, casting their need for security as a threat to ours, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. Tactics refined on the West Bank and in other occupation zones are now making their way to North America and Europe.

    #migrations #changement_climatique #pétrole #guerre #Edward_Said

  • Stuck in Sicily

    On a sound file sent to me via WhatsApp, a teenage girl sobs, and an older woman says: ‘Don’t worry, the white people will help you.’ The girl is 17, from a village in Edo state in Nigeria. A family friend came to her house, she says, and asked her parents if they’d like to send their daughter to work in Europe. The friend didn’t say what kind of work she would be doing, only that she would earn money she could bring home, after she had paid back a bond of €5000. They made her swear an oath that she would honour the debt, then sent her north, through Niger and across the Sahara to Libya. The journey took several months. By the time she reached Libya she had discovered that when she finally arrived in Europe she would be forced into sex work.
    #Sicile #Italie #antichambre #zone_d'attente #asile #migrations #réfugiés #accueil

  • David Blackbourn reviews ‘Weimar’ by Michael Kater · LRB 19 May 2016

    Pay-wallmais je crois que ça vaut la peine

    In March 1932, Thomas Mann visited Weimar in central Germany. For the last thirty years of the 18th century, this modestly sized town was home to Goethe, Schiller, Herder and Wieland, but by the 1930s it had become a hotbed of the radical right. ‘The admixture of Hitlerism and Goethe affects one strangely,’ Mann wrote in ‘Meine Goethereise’. ‘Of course, Weimar is a centre of Hitlerdom. Everywhere you could see Hitler’s picture etc in the National Socialist newspapers on exhibit. The town was dominated by the type of young person who walks through the streets vaguely determined, offering the Roman salute.’ Cultural greatness in decline and the juxtaposition of Goethe with Hitler – these are the two narrative axes along which Michael Kater tells the story of Weimar.

  • Crisis in Brazil
    Perry Anderson

    Popular mobilisation to stop the ouster of Dilma [...] is fettered by the legacy of PT rule. The party is in a weak position to call on its beneficiaries to defend it, for at least three reasons. The first is simply that, if corruption lost it the middle-class sympathy it once enjoyed, austerity has alienated the much larger lower-class base it acquired. The demonstrations it has so far been able to mount against impeachment have been much less imposing than those calling for it. Marchers have been mustered mainly from public sector workers and unions: the poor are conspicuous by their absence. The PT’s rural bailiwicks in the north-east are anyway socially dispersed, as the big cities of the centre-south that are the strongholds of the new right are not. Then there has been the inevitable demoralisation as successive scandals have engulfed the party, a diffuse sense of guilt, however suppressed, weakening any fighting spirit. Lastly, and fundamentally, by the time Lula won power the party had become essentially an electoral machine, financed overwhelmingly by corporate donations rather than – as at the beginning – by members’ dues, contenting itself with passive adhesion to the name of its leader, lacking any will to foster collective action among its voters. The active mobilisation that brought it into being in the manufacturing centres of Brazil became a distant memory as the party gained support in zones of the country and layers of the population untouched by industry, with deep-rooted traditions of submission to authority and fear of disorder. This was a political culture Lula understood, and did not seriously attempt to unsettle. In his vision of things, the potential cost was too high. To help the masses, he sought harmony with the elites, for whom any vigorous polarisation was taboo. In 2002 he finally won the presidency, at his fourth attempt, on a slogan of ‘peace and love’. In 2016, faced with political lynching, he was still uttering the same two words to crowds expecting something more combative.


    The Workers’ Party believed, after a time, that it could use the established order in Brazil to benefit the poor, without harm – indeed with help – to the rich. It did benefit the poor, as it set out to do. But once it accepted the price of entry into a diseased political system, the door closed behind it. The party itself withered, becoming an enclave in the state, without self-awareness or strategic direction, so blind that it ostracised André Singer, its best thinker, for a mess of spin-doctors and pollsters, so insensible it took lucre, wherever it came from, as the condition of power. Its achievements will remain. Whether the party will itself do so is an open question. In South America, a cycle is coming to an end. For a decade and a half, relieved of attention by the US, buoyed by the commodities boom, and drawing on deep reserves of popular tradition, the continent was the only part of the world where rebellious social movements coexisted with heterodox governments. In the wake of 2008, there are now plenty of the former elsewhere. But none so far of the latter. A global exception is closing, with no relay yet in sight.

    #Brésil #Amérique_du_sud

  • Laissez-passer

    Un article de la London Review of Books compare les formulaires de demande de visa de plusieurs Etats.

    Le Pakistan requiert que l’on fournisse un « signe distinctif », son groupe sanguin, sa confession et son dossier militaire. La Birmanie opte pour l’autoportrait : chacun doit donner la couleur de ses cheveux, celle de ses yeux, sa taille et sa couleur de peau. La République démocratique du Congo [RDC] exige qu’on prouve sa « bonne moralité » et qu’on démontre que son hôte en RDC est bien une « personne physique ou morale ». Le Japon est particulièrement soucieux de savoir si le candidat consomme de la marijuana, de l’opium ou d’autres stupéfiants. La Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée, qui met des visas spéciaux à la disposition des propriétaires de yacht, des comédiens et des groupes de gospel, demande un « certificat de bonne santé », une radiographie des poumons, un test de dépistage du VIH [virus de l’immunodéficience humaine] et un certificat de moralité « émis par les autorités de police locales ». La Chine souhaite savoir si vous souffrez de « déséquilibre psychologique sévère » ou de tuberculose pulmonaire (...). La quasi-totalité des pays se montrent curieux d’éventuels antécédents dans le domaine de la prostitution ou du commerce du sexe, mais pas la Thaïlande. (...) La perle demeure le formulaire pour l’obtention d’un visa américain. Il s’intéresse à la stérilisation forcée, à la prostitution, aux maladies contagieuses, à la polygamie, aux « turpitudes morales », à l’espionnage, (...) à la torture (une pratique dégradante dont chacun sait que les Etats-Unis la condamnent), au terrorisme physique ou rhétorique. Et, oui, la question relative à une adhésion au Parti communiste y figure toujours. #cdp #st via Le Monde diplomatique

  • Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future

    It is only mildly amusing that nowadays the standard Republican/Tory after-dinner speech is a two-part affair, in which part one celebrates the virtues of unimpeded competition and dynamic structural change, while part two mourns the decline of the family and community ‘values’ that were eroded precisely by the forces commended in part one.

    Avec une conclusion beaucoup moins convaincante.

  • Adam Shatz · The Daoud Affair · LRB 4 March 2016

    Perhaps the best known sceptic about ‘Islamophobia’ in France is the prime minister, Manuel Valls, who has presided over the rightward shift of the Hollande government since the Charlie Hebdo attacks. On 2 March, under the heading ‘Let Us Support Kamel Daoud’, Valls wrote that the attacks on Daoud should

    make us indignant … Daoud shows us the path to follow … a path that France is following, in making it known to all those who have abandoned thought, that a Muslim will never be by essence a terrorist, anymore than a refugee will be by essence a rapist … To abandon this writer to his fate would be to abandon ourselves.

    Valls’s defence of Daoud has a noble ring, but his commitment to intellectual freedom is highly selective. In late January, a week before Daoud’s editorial appeared in Le Monde, Valls denounced Jean-Louis Bianco, the president of the Observatoire de la laïcité, for signing a letter calling for French unity against terrorism after the November attacks. Among the other, more than 80 signatories was the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, an anti-racist group Valls accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood. ‘One can’t sign appeals, including those that condemn terrorism, with organisations that I consider participants in a foul atmosphere,’ Valls said. In January, he declared at a conference organised by the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives en France – an umbrella organisation of Jewish groups that has been an unswerving ally of the Israeli government – that he would not permit a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators to hold a protest in Paris when the Bat Sheva dance company performed at the Paris Opera. French Jewish supporters of Israel encountered no such obstacles when they came out onto the streets in defence of the Gaza war in the summer of 2014. This double standard has done little to improve the dismal state of Muslim-Jewish relations in France.

    Valls has also been behind the increasingly punitive security measures in France, such as the extension of the emergency law – he told an interviewer on the BBC that it should remain in effect indefinitely, or until the Islamic State is completely liquidated – and the ‘décheance de la nationalité’, an amendment to the Constitution that would strip binational French citizens implicated in terrorism of their nationality. Not only does the décheance create two categories of citizenship – something not seen in France since Vichy – but it implies that the blame for French jihadism, which is very much homegrown, a product of the banlieues and provincial towns, can be shifted onto countries that France once ruled on the other side of the Mediterranean. Valls, it seems, would like to exonerate France of responsibility for ‘its’ Muslims, while adopting the cause of North African critics of Islamism like Kamel Daoud, as if the Mediterranean separating France and Algeria were ‘like the Seine running through Paris’, in the words of an old colonial slogan.

    Valls’s embrace is hardly fatal. Daoud is a brave and resilient man who writes for no one but himself. But it is a sobering reminder that that language is not simply ‘vacated property’. It is also ‘war booty’, as Yacine wrote, in a borderless clash over words, fantasies and interests – over the meanings of Islam, freedom and security. As Valls sang Daoud’s praises, I thought of the book that Ferhat Abbas, an Algerian nationalist leader, wrote about the betrayal of his country’s revolution: A Confiscated Independence. Once again, Kamel Daoud will have to fight for his.