Pascal Bruckner

    is a French philosopher based in Paris. He is the author of several bestselling novels, including Lunes de fiel (Evil Angels, made by Roman Polanski into a film, Bitter Moon, in 1992); Parias and Le divin enfant (The Divine Child), and essays critical of the hackneyed clichés of solidarity with the Third World and of „triumphant democracy“, „dictatorship of the economy“, „tyranny of guilt“ as well as the „art of loving“, as expressed in the manifesto The New Love Disorder, written jointly with Alain Finkielkraut. Pascal Bruckner has taught at the State University of San Diego (California) and currently teaches at New York University and the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris. “For a century now the great religions have had to grieve over their lost erstwhile greatness. Nowadays they have been reduced to not much more than being a few nations among many, while going through the dreadful experience of multiplicity. This is the sense that creeps upon you as you arrive in any large metropolis in Europe or in the US and walk from one neighbourhood to the next, passing countless churches – Catholic, Protestant, Baptist – synagogues, Hindu temples and pagodas, all nicely lined up as if in a parade. Are these signs of bigotry? First and foremost these are signs of civic peace and peaceful coexistence. ‘If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily together in peace.’ (Voltaire). The best thing one could wish for Islam is not any kind of -phobia or –philia but a good-humoured indifference on the market of spirituality that is open to all believers. But it is precisely this indifference that the fundamentalists reject. It would mean that Islam is just one monotheistic religion among many, and this they find unacceptable. Islam does not regard itself as the heir of previous religions but as their successor, entitled to all the rights they once claimed. It does not want equal rights with the other religions because it feels superior to them all. And this is the crux of the problem!”