By Michael Hoffman
The New York Times has decided to deny the French philosopher Roger Garaudy, who died June 15, an obituary notice, even though he was mentioned in the Times 45 times during his lifetime. We shall indeed note his passing here, however, and commemorate his life. He was the author of The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics for which the French government fined him thousands of dollars and imposed a suspended prison sentence. In recent years, he claimed that the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. were perpetrated by the Bush administration in order to launch wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq. After Garaudy published his controversial book, one of the most famous men in France came to his defense. This was the Catholic priest Abbé Pierre (1912-2007), a champion of the poor who opinion polls said was among the best-loved men in France. Abbé Pierre brought down wrath on himself by defending Garaudy's work which stated that (counterfeit)-Israel exploited the "Holocaust" to put itself "above all international law." Abbé Pierre sent Mr. Garaudy a five-page letter lauding his "passion for the truth," his "astonishing and illuminating erudition" and his "scrupulous" research. The priest, born Henry Grouès, took on the nom-de-guerre of Abbé Pierre while resisting the Nazis in World War II, when he helped rescue Judaic people and others sought by the Nazis, including the younger brother of General Charles de Gaulle. Abbé Pierre founded an international humanitarian movement, Emmaüs, in 1949. He shot to fame in 1954 when he launched a national campaign for the homeless. With his familiar beret, walking stick and brown robes of a Capuchin monk, he enjoyed access to the offices of the president and prime minister. Even after endorsing Garuady, French television viewers in 2005 voted Abbé Pierre the third greatest French person of all time, after de Gaulle and Pasteur.
Now to Mr. Garaudy himself, first from the French media and then from a Muslim source:
French Holocaust revisionist philosopher Garaudy dies
(AFP) – June 15, 2012
PARIS — Roger Garaudy, a communist and darling of French intellectual society until he denied that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews during World War II, has died aged 98, officials said Friday.
Garaudy was fined 120,000 francs (18,000 dollars) by a Paris court in 1998 for his anti-Zionist work "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics". The court found that his account had distorted the wartime deaths of an estimated six million Jews.
He died on Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Chennevieres, local officials said. Garaudy, who converted to Protestantism, Catholicism and finally Islam, joined the French resistance and was held in Algeria as a prisoner of war of France's collaborationist Vichy regime. He joined the French Communist Party after the war, was elected to the French parliament and became a member of the Senate. But he was expelled from the Communist Party in 1970 after he criticised the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, although he had defended the Soviet intervention in Hungary 12 years earlier.
A big man with glasses as thick as his southern French accent, Garaudy was for years seen as someone who symbolised the "dialogue of civilizations." The author of around 70 books, Garaudy described himself as a Don Quixote fighting the windmills of capitalism. Within the Communist Party hierarchy he was known as "the Cardinal" both for his sense of authority and his attraction towards the Church. He was for years the darling of the French media and intellectual milieu for his philosophical work and his political courage. But that ended with his conversion to Islam in 1982 and subsequent criticism of Zionism, which turned him into a pariah. The head of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, in 2006 cited his treatment as an example of the West's "hypocrisy and duplicity".
Roger Garaudy, renowned French Muslim thinker, passes away
June 17, 2012
Paris-- World renowned French Muslim thinker Roger Garaudy died on Friday in the Paris suburb of Chennevieres after prolonged illness. He was 99. He will be laid to rest on Monday in Paris.
Formerly a prominent communist author, he converted to Islam and wrote several books which have been controversial due to his anti-Zionist positions and denial of the Holocaust.
Widely acclaimed as the most important international Muslim cultural personality of the 20th century, Garaudy was the winner of several prestigious awards, including the King Faisal International Prize for Services to Islam in 1986.
His masterpiece – Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne – was the most controversial because of his boldness to deny the Holocaust by calling it a myth and that it had not taken place.
Garaudy was born to Catholic and atheist parents in Marseilleson July 17, 1913. He converted at age 14 and became a Protestant. During World War II, Garaudy joined the French Resistance, for which he was imprisoned in Djelfa, Algeriaas a prisoner of war of VichyFrance.
Following the war, Garaudy joined the French Communist Party. As a political candidate he succeeded in being elected to the National Assembly and eventually rose to the position of deputy speaker, and later senator. He became a leading party theoretician for the FCP and authored scores of scholarly works.
Garaudy remained a Christian and eventually re-converted to Catholicism during his political career. In 1970, Garaudy was expelled from the Communist Party following his outspoken criticism of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Garaudy converted to Islam in 1982, later writing that “The Christ of Paul is not the Jesus of the Bible,” and also forming other critical scholarly conclusions regarding the Old and New Testaments. As a Muslim he adopted the name “Ragaa” and became a prominent Islamic commentator and supporter of the Palestinian cause.
Garaudy authored more than 50 books, mainly on political philosophy and Marxism. In 1996 Garaudy published his most controversial work, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne, later translated into English as The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. Because the book contained Holocaust denial, French courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined him 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years.
Following his trial and conviction in France, Garaudy was hailed in the Muslim world and received substantial public support. In Iran, 160 members of the parliament signed a petition in Garaudy’s support. Senior Iranian officials invited him to Tehran and received him warmly. Iranian leaders condemned Israel and the West for bringing Garaudy to trial. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cited Garaudy for his work in exposing the Zionists’ “Nazi-like behavior.”
Garaudy has been hailed throughout the Islamic World as “the most important international cultural personality of the 20th century,” “Europe’s greater philosopher since Plato and Aristotle.” Even in recent interviews, Garaudy repeated his claim that the Holocaust is a myth, stating that the genocide of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War was “invented as a myth by Churchill, Eisenhower and De Gaulle to justify the destruction and occupation of Germany. In December 2006 Garaudy was unable to attend the international conference to review the global vision of the Holocaust due to health reasons.
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