French teacher quits after death threats over Islam

PARIS: French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker said on Saturday he would stop teaching in schools in the wake of death threats made against him last year by Muslim extremists after he published an attack on Islam.

Redeker told France Info radio station that he would instead take up a job in France’s CNRS national science research institute.

Redeker, 52, received several death threats by e-mail after publishing a virulent attack on Islam in a column for Le Figaro newspaper last September.

In the article, the high-school teacher called the Koran a book of “incredible violence”, described Prophet Mohammad as a “merciless warlord, a looter, a butcher of Jews and a polygamist” and said Islam “exalts violence and hate.”

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The ensuing threats forced Redeker, who had taught in the southern French city of Toulouse, to live in hiding with armed police protection.

Earlier this month, a source close to a police investigation into the affair said a man had been arrested in Morocco on suspicion of inciting others to kill Redeker. In October, a young Muslim was arrested in Orleans, southwest of Paris, on suspicion of e-mailing death threats to the teacher.

Redeker said he had met French Education Minister Gilles de Robien to discuss the job at the CNRS institute and that he had no regrets over the article.

“I do not think you can regret something which was written with complete honesty and sincerity,” he told France Info.

France’s top politicians and the head of the French Muslim Council have all denounced the death threats. French intellectuals were initially wary of the fact that Redeker’s article echoed far-right statements, but have since rallied to his cause in defence of the freedom of speech.

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Reuters, via DNAindia.com, UK
Jan. 20, 2007
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This post was last updated: Jan. 20, 2007