There is a problem with the interview of Diam's by Augustin Trapenard, but not the one we believe

There is a problem with the interview of Diam’s by Augustin Trapenard, but not the one we believe

On the occasion of the Cannes release of Hellothe film by and on Diam’s, the interview that the latter granted to Augustin Trapenard caused a stir.

She was applauded by those who appreciated this “moment of truth” during which the former star – who wishes to be called from now on by her first name, Mélanie – recounts her difficulties, her journey and her “Renaissance”. One of our former ministers (Cécile Duflot) mentioned her resemblance to Sister Sourire. Others, on the other hand, see in this interview the “pure propaganda” (Caroline Fourest) and in the interviewer a “wretched useful idiot of the bearded men” (Gilles Chevalier).

The problem with this interview is not that Diam’s-Mélanie confides in it and reveals what she is – a cordial and sensitive personality; nor is it that she eventually proselytizes (a more appropriate word than “propaganda”). After all, it is characteristic of religious people, the “true ones”, those who have faith in their bodies, not only to think and to live the law of God as superior to that of men, but also to want to convince the most large number. And like it or not, it was, it is, and it always will be. To misunderstand this is to understand nothing of the religious fact.

The word “Salafism” missing

The big problem with this interview is that in thirty minutes, the word “Salafism” has not been mentioned once! Neither by the interviewee nor by the interviewer. However, the “Renaissance” of Diam’s-Mélanie, this “state of peace” in which she says she now lives, was effected by her conversion to Islam and more precisely to one of its most fundamentalist versions: Salafism, precisely.

I then remembered my meeting, a few years ago, with the former star and her husband, a rapper who became a writer, a Frenchman of Tunisian origin, also a Salafist: Faouzi Tarkhani. Diam’s-Mélanie also refers to her husband at least twice in the Brut video. She has a real intellectual admiration for him, an admiration which is not unfounded as I could judge when Faouzi Tarkhani had agreed to speak to me despite his “fear of being trapped and facing an indictment”.

Go back four years

This day in 2018, it was a flight of midnight blue veil that had rushed from the bottom of the lobby of the grand Parisian hotel where she was staying in Paris. Dressed in a jilbab leaving only his face to be seen, Diam’s does indeed give off a warm impression, carefully guiding her husband towards the small lounge they had reserved for our meeting.

Because Faouzi Tarkhani is blind. He was 11 years old when his cousin Titi, giving himself the air of a gangster, took aim at him and fired his father’s gun. The shot tears the child’s face and blinds him immediately, he says in Mal vu, testimony of a Salafist who condemns terrorism.

“I confusedly felt that music and the Koran could not coexist in the same heart.”


Faouzi Tarkhani, ex-rapper and husband of Diam’s

It was on the occasion of the release of this autobiography that I had met him for the first time: in the Parisian offices of his publisher, left bank, far from Sarcelles (Val-d’Oise) where he was born , grew up and very quickly developed a real talent for “pilferer”, as well as a passion for reading. In 1987, following this children’s game which turned tragic, he joined a boarding school for young blind people in the VIIe Parisian arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower and that of Montparnasse: achancehe says today, no doubt because he then had access to a new world where he was also taken care of.

Back in Sarcelles, the young man began to make a name for himself in rap and hip-hop. The Polydor label allows him to record his first disc in New York, at Universal. He who “existed on the music scene before Diam’s” then plunges into the whirlwind of stardom. “I felt [cependant] confusedly that music and the Koran could not cohabit in the same heart and that the triumph of one would mean the death of the other. His entry into Salafism for “apply Islam as it should be applied” therefore led him to stop this career, since “Islam prohibits music”.

Salafists at the forefront of the fight against terrorism

At the end of 2018, we therefore met a second time, in the small lounge of this large Parisian hotel where Diam’s, who obviously had no star coquetry, had just installed us and served us tea and coffee herself before slip away.

The former rapper publishes a new novel, A Repentance, published in digital format on the author’s account, this time. A story of chaotic lives in the suburbs of Sarcelles, where we come across a host of diverse characters, well established and endearing. Implicitly, the message is always the same: to show the redeeming value of “true Islam”, Salafism.

“I wanted to write a fiction, first of all to prove that one can be an orthodox Muslim and be sensitive to literature, but also to develop a softer approach to Islam and, through literature, create bridges between believers and non-believers”, explains the writer who read Submission of Houellebecq and “judges in passing that the latter is there promoting the religion of Muhammad more than his trial”.

However, in the eyes of Diam’s husband, “in a society [européenne] to morbid consumerism, having turned its back on its priests, such a religion could only take root. A living religion, pure monotheism, sure of its values. among which the “patriarchal values”.

Advocacy for Salafism

But Faouzi Tarkhani is still reluctant to talk about his faith and his religion. Because he is exceeded by the “semantic confusion around the term “Salafist””. He criticizes those who form the opinion for seeing in it a matrix common to the quietist Salafists (pacifists) and to the jihadists of Daesh: in other words, the antechamber of the passage to the act.

Thereby, “the gigantic prevention work of the Salafists [quiétistes] is passed over in silence. Their conferences, Friday sermons or tracts are innumerable. Their sites are full of articles singling out terrorists.” Diam’s husband is fighting so that we don’t confuse everything: “Daesh terrorists who are in truth takfirists practicing illegitimate violence under the guise of Islamic jihad [et] the salafists [qui] are the most resistant dike to their tsunami.”

“Whether we like it or not, there is a common core between the Salafist current whose [Faouzi Tarkhani] speaks and that of the jihadists.”


Romain Caillet, researcher and consultant on Islamist issues

The debate has agitated the Salafist sphere and created deep divisions. I then questioned Romain Caillet, researcher and consultant on Islamist issues, according to whom “The Salafist commitment against jihadist terrorism is a reality, there is no debate about it. But whether we like it or not, there is a common core between the Salafist current he speaks of and that of the jihadists..

Diam’s husband does not deny, for his part, that there is a common base. “But it is dogmatic, subject to many interpretations, in the same way that there is a common base through the Age of Enlightenment between Rousseau and Robespierre. Thus, Salafism is innocent of Daechian terrorism in the same way that Rousseau is innocent of the terror initiated by Robespierre., he wrote in the sales pitch he sent me at the time.

However, Romain Caillet judged “the battle of Faouzi against the amalgam with the jihadists lost in advance”. “And then, the majority of French people are hostile to the practice of literal Islam, so there’s no need to expect them to be benevolent”concluded the co-author, with Pierre Puchot, of the investigation into jihadist movements in France The fight has been prescribed for you.

The family hijra in Saudi Arabia

It is indeed because their literal practice of the texts of Islam was incompatible with French society that Faouzi Tarkhani and Diam’s made their hijrah (emigration to Islamic lands) and first settled in Saudi Arabia, the “land of the prophet”: “There, you don’t have to negotiate to be able to say your prayers at work; it’s even the opposite: the police can even call you to order if you haven’t closed your shop when it’s prayer time, even if all that is starting to change with the new reforms that MBS [Mohammed ben Salmane, prince héritier et vice-Premier ministre d’Arabie saoudite depuis juin 2017, ndlr] gradually put in place”recalled Romain Caillet.

Faouzi Tarkhani quoted the laudatory remarks he would have heard from the mouth of “Pierre Guillaume, French commander officiating on a far-right radio station, [qui] noted that in Saudi Arabia, the elderly were not put in retirement homes, that the crime rate was one of the lowest in the world and that incivility was non-existent there”.

Certainly, but what about the practice of flogging and the death penalty, the status of women and the fact that freedom of worship is not respected in this country, with which France is engaged in a privileged partnership? Faouzi Tarkhani did not answer these questions, neither during our meetings nor during our email exchanges. The family have since left Saudi Arabia.

The Molitor swimming pool

Our interview, at the end of 2018, comes to an end. In the background of the small living room where we have been talking for an hour, the Molitor swimming pool would make a beautiful backdrop for a photo. Faouzi Tarkhani nods before turning to me, worried: am I sure we won’t see women in swimsuits behind him in the photo? I reassure him. A smile? The friend who accompanies him – he attended the entire interview – urges me to abandon this idea: “It’s a sin to smile at a woman.”

I finally gave up writing my article. It seemed to me that given the personality of Faouzi Tarkhani, it would be professional misconduct to deal only with literature and not at length with his Salafism; and I had not obtained the answers to certain essential questions.

Today, while listening to Brut’s interview, I wondered if by removing this word, “Salafism”, by not even pronouncing it once, Diam’s had not gone, with Augustin Trapenard, beyond even what Faouzi Tarkhani wanted us to do four years ago. However, pietist Salafism constitutes the backbone of this couple. To pretend it doesn’t exist is not only clumsy, but aberrant. And above all, it protects neither Diam’s nor her husband from a new volley of insults.

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Before it was put online, we obviously informed, by email, Mr. Faouzi Tarkhani of the publication of this article.

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