French President Emmanuel Macron announced, with quasi religious fervor, a new “charter of republican values” which the Muslims of France would be compelled to sign up to. With the subsequent spate of violence in France the president has squarely blamed Islam for France’s problems and is now ordering Muslims to follow his definition of Islam
It is here that the conundrum of Europe lies that contrary to the denials of its adherents, liberal secularism is in fact a religion and although it fails to answer the most important existential questions, it nonetheless defines for its believers a specific world view contrary to all other views. Central to this world view is the belief that regulations derived from the minds of men are superior to those prescribed by the infinite mind of the Creator, hence liberal secularism relegates all temporal regulation of man’s conduct to simply an appeal to morality and ethics.
Like Catholicism (its Western predecessor), liberal secularism has a penchant for forcible conversion to its faith. The inquisitions of European Catholicism and in fact Protestantism tolerated no dissent nor did they allow the subsistence of a belief other than that prescribed by the authorities.
Be it Catharism, Protestantism or Islam, European authorities have long sought to control the beliefs of their citizens with imprisonment, torture, economic marginalisation and expulsion; these are the favoured means to pursue their campaigns against what they considered heresy to their faith.
Catholic Monarchs from Spain to Italy required all those who were subject to their rule to renounce their former faith and be baptised as Catholic under pain of execution or worse.
After a brief period of relative calm, starting with the city of Grenada, eventually all 600,000 Muslims remaining in the Iberian Peninsula, after the end of the Spanish monarchies Reconquista, were either forcibly converted to Christianity, killed or expelled by royal edict; effectively eliminating the presence of Islam in the Iberian Peninsula.
Forced conversion was never enough to satisfy the homogeneity required by European authorities. The inquisition examined the minutiae of the private and public lives of those forced to convert looking for even the smallest hint that conversion to the Catholic faith was not sincere. Failure to convince inquisitors often resulted in excruciating punishment and death.
It must be borne in mind that although individuals were often the target of these inquisitions, the intention was never to punish or reform the individual. Rather, the intended outcome was to terrorise a community. The Directorium Inquisitorum (a standard inquisitorial manual) states: “for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit”.
It is assumed that post-Enlightenment Europe had dispensed with the notion of forced homogeneity and conversion to a state sanctioned religion, but developments in Austria, France and many other European countries indicate otherwise. Just like their Catholic predecessors, uniformity in belief seems to be a requirement for their secular successors with notions of a political role for Islam considered heretical for many of the same reasons.
In Austria, the Islam Act of 2015 effectively created a state sanctioned version of Islam, one that was devoid of any notion that Islam may provide a political, social and economic system that can provide human kind with an alternative to the vagaries of liberal, secular and capitalist governance.
The French state holds itself as a vanguard in the fight against the ‘heresy’ of political Islam, from state sanctioned insults against the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) to an edict and ultimatum from the French President that calls on Imams to sign up to a charter of “Republican values”, whose main tenant of faith is that Islam does not constitute a political force.
The French state effectively seeks to convert the population of Muslims in France to a secular liberal state sanctioned version of Islam.
Just as the Inquisition sought to pressure a community to conform, with gratuitous displays of brutality, the French state, through the draconian law on the dissolution of organisations, seeks to terrorise communities by punishing organisations that refuse to yield to the official line.
Just like the Inquisition enquired into the minutiae of the private lives of those compelled to convert: the opinions of children expressed at school are used to gauge the private thought of their parents; with sanctions including fines, and the severance of family ties between children and their parents imposed on those considered heretical to secular beliefs and values. Much like its Catholic predecessor, the modern secular liberal inquisition against Islam is predicated on the same impotence that afflicted Catholicism, namely an inability to intellectually confront the sublimity of the Islamic creed; resorting to draconian measures -this is the only respite an intellectually feeble belief can attain.