"You are sentenced to death. It's just a matter of time." This message, in Arabic, was sent by Islamists to Laurence Marchand-Taillade, National Secretary of the Parti Radical de Gauche (Radical Party of the Left). She now lives under the protection of the French police.
Marchand-Taillade forced the Muslim Brotherhood to withdraw, under pressure from France's Interior Ministry, its invitation of three Islamic fundamentalists to a conference in Lille. The Islamists in question were the Syrian Mohamed Rateb al Nabulsi, the Moroccan Abouzaid al Mokrie and the Saudi Abdullah Salah Sana'an, who deem that the penalty for homosexuality is death, that the international coalition against the Islamic State is "infidel," that Jews "destroy the nations" and that only religious music is permitted.
Laurence Marchand-Taillade published an article in Le Figaro in which she called for the ban of these Islamists with their "anti-Semitic and pro-jihadist message."
In the magazine Marianne, Marchand-Taillade then penned, along with the French-Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui, an article calling for the resignation of the leaders of the Observatory of Secularism.
"I am the president of an association that supports secularism in the Val-d'Oise" said Marchand-Taillade to me in an interview,
"and for years, I observed unreasonable sacrifices and compromises from the National Observatory of Secularism, which has encouraged radical communitarianism by participating to forums such as 'We Are United,' with the rapper Médine, who has called for the 'crucifixion of the secularists,' the 'Collective against Islamophobia' and Nabil Ennasri, a Muslim Brother from Qatar. The president of the Observatory of Secularism, Jean Louis Bianco, gave credit to these Salafist organizations at war with our values.
"Since the first months of 2014, I started also to report to the authorities of the arrival of imams such as Nader Abou Anas, who justifies marital rape, and Hatim Abu Abdillah, who promises a 'cruel punishment' for women. Then I went to Lille, on February 6 and 7, where Tariq Ramadan and others were indoctrinating our youths"
Since then, her life has not been the same.
How did she react to the death sentence?
"After a few moments of fear, I thought that if there are these threats it is because my fight foiled the plans of the Muslim Brothers by bringing them to light. I decided not to give up. Islamists began a long process of infiltrating all sectors of civil society. The concept is based on the written doctrines of Hassan al-Banna, the grandfather of [Tariq] Ramadan. Their flag has two swords and the Koran; indoctrination and violence are the methods to gain power. France is a country chosen for several reasons: it has a large population from North Africa; it is a secular country in which you can use the freedoms of democracy as weapons against it, and it had weak policies. The only way to stop the threat is to reaffirm secularism and absolute freedom of conscience. We cannot allow entire portions of the French population to fall in the trap of hating the country where they are born and, above all, which considers them part of the nation. It is choice of civilization, while there is an attempt to destroy two centuries of progress for humanity."
What happened to Marchand-Taillade -- the 24-hour a day police protection she needs because she exercised her constitutional right to freedom of expression -- tells us a lot about France, where dozens of academics, intellectuals, novelists and journalists now have to live under police protection just because of their criticism of Islam.
It is not only politicians such as Marine Le Pen and Samia Ghali, the mayor of Marseille, and not only judges such as Albert Lévy, who has conducted investigations on Islamic fundamentalists.
The most famous is Michel Houellebecq, author of the novel Submission, who lives under the protection of the gendarmerie since he published his last novel. There is also haute protection ("high protection") for Éric Zemmour, the author of Le Suicide Français. Two policemen follow him wherever he goes -- including to court, where Muslim organizations tried to defame him and his work by accusing him of "Islamophobia," to silence him.
Charlie Hebdo's director, "Riss," and the remaining cartoonists live under police protection, and their new offices are in an undisclosed location. My friend Robert Redeker, a professor of philosophy condemned to death in 2006 by Islamists for an article he wrote in Le Figaro, still lives like a fugitive, as if he is a political prisoner in his own country. His conferences and courses have been canceled, his house sold, his father's funeral celebrated in secrecy, and his daughter's wedding organized by the police.
Mohammed Sifaoui, who lived undercover in a French cell of al Qaeda and has written a shocking book, Combattre le terrorisme islamiste ("Combat Islamist Terrorism") also lives under police protection. His photo and name appear on jihadi websites next to the word murtad ("apostate").
The French philosopher and essayist, Michel Onfray, just withdrew the planned publication of an essay critical of Islam, He claims that "no debate is possible" in the country after the November 13 attacks in Paris (his book has just been published in my country, Italy).
Frédéric Haziza, a radio journalist and author for the magazine Le Canard Enchaîné, has been the target of threats from Islamists, and is under protection, as is Philippe Val, the former director of Charlie Hebdo and France Inter, who decided to publish the Mohammed cartoons in 2006. The Franco-Algerian journalist Zineb Rhazaoui is always surrounded by six policemen, as is the brave imam Hassen Chalgoumi, who is protected as if he were a head of state.
In Britain, the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie eliminated any doubt among scholars and journalists whether it was appropriate or not to criticize Islam. In the Netherlands, it was enough to shoot dead Theo Van Gogh for having made a film, Submission, about a woman abused in a forced marriage. Dutch MP Geert Wilders had to debate wearing bulletproof vests and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote Submission's script, fled the country and found a refuge in the U.S. In Sweden, that artist Lars Vilks now lives like a shadow. In Denmark, the headquarters of the Jyllands Posten newspaper, which published the original Mohammed cartoons, has a barbed wire fence two meters high and one kilometer long. It has become like a U.S. embassy in the Middle East.
In France, hunting season is still open for critics of Islam, even after the decimation of Charlie Hebdo's brave artists. But for how long?
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.