Fouad Laroui’s Refutation

One of the pleasures of living in Casablanca is having easy access to books by Moroccan writers (or indeed by anyone who writes in Arabic or French or anyone translated in these languages.) So when I heard that Fouad Laroui had a new book out, an essay collection titled De L’islamisme, I popped into the Carrefour des Livres to pick up a copy. They were sold out. No problem, I thought, and I went over to Livre Service. They were sold out, too. I had to call two or three other bookstores before I could locate one copy (one!) at Gauthier Livres. (Coincidentally, the last remaining copy was set up next to a stack of The Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.)

I stayed up until midnight last night to finish De L’islamisme. It’s enormously readable, it has lots of humor (just like Laroui’s novels), and it manages to bring a few fresh perspectives on a topic that has been beaten half to death. Laroui’s background in science also comes in handy as he deconstructs some of the ridiculous claims made by religious extremists, crackpot scientists, and other assorted imbeciles. My one complaint about the book is that it does not have source notes or a bibliography. For instance, Laroui writes things like “Voici ce que nous dit un commentateur,” but doesn’t always say who he has in mind, and I am not so well-read as to figure it out each time. I need names, dates, publications! It’s otherwise a very enjoyable book, a well-crafted mix of memoir and objective analysis that never gets precious or heavy.