Roger Garaudy, once the leading intellectual of the
French Communist Party, converted to Islam
Roger Garaudy, the eminent French philosopher who converted from Marxism to Islam and was persecuted by the French state for his unorthodox views on 'Holocaust' history, has died a few weeks before his 99th birthday.
Having won the Croix de Guerre fighting in the French Army during the early stages of the Second World War, Garaudy carried on fighting as a member of the French Resistance until he was arrested by the Vichy authorities in 1941 and spent two years as a prisoner of war in Algeria.
Following his release he joined the French Communist Party and became a member of its Central Committee, later being elected to the National Assembly and eventually the French Senate as a Communist representative.
Alongside his political campaigns, he taught philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand.
In common with many Marxist intellectuals, Garaudy refused to support the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and his increasingly outspoken criticisms of the Soviet leadership led to his expulsion from the Communist Party in 1970.
But Roger Garaudy was not content to join the well-paid ranks of ex-Communists. While so many of his former colleagues turned into apologists for neo-conservatism, he remained a restless critic of 20th century Western society.
In 1982 he became a Muslim, and went on to publish in 1995 a radical anti-Zionist book, The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics, which took on that most sacred of mythical symbols – the 'Holocaust'.
Garaudy agreed with his fellow Frenchman Prof. Robert Faurisson that the Jewish death toll in Second World War internment camps had been the result of typhus epidemics, and that far from seeking to annihilate European Jewry in homicidal 'gas chambers', the Germans had used Zyklon B in an effort to kill the lice that spread typhus.
This view is of course criminalised in France, and despite Garaudy's age and eminence he was hauled before the courts, convicted and given a suspended jail sentence in 1998.
Garaudy remained a hero and inspiration for anti-Zionists around the world. He died on 13th June 2012 in the small town of Chennevières-sur-Marne, a Parisian suburb.