French TV cancels interview with 'Islamic France' novelist

9th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

French television network Canal Plus on Friday cancelled the broadcast of an interview with one of the country's top novelists about his new book imagining a France under Islamic rule.

The station said it had pulled the programme on author Michel Houellebecq because of the double "hostage-takings" by apparent jihadists in and to the north of Paris on Friday, it told AFP.

Houellebecq suspended his promotion of his book "Soumission" ("Submission") late Thursday and left Paris after learning one of his friends was among the 12 people murdered in an Islamist attack Wednesday on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

But he had pre-recorded an interview with Canal Plus, which was meant to have been aired late Friday.

The television station was quick to say the broadcast was not cancelled "because of the content of the interview".

The last issue of Charlie Hebdo -- which came out the day of the massacre -- was focused on Houellebecq and his book, with a cartoon of the author on the cover, though there was no suggestion that that prompted the attack.

The novel presents a dystopian vision of France coming under Muslim rule, with women forced to wear veils and excluded from employment, and teachers forced to convert to Islam or lose their jobs.

The book has provoked significant debate, with critics accusing Houellebecq of stirring up Islamophobia and helping the cause of France's far-right National Front.

The book was published Wednesday, the same day two gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo's offices and slaughtered 12 people and wounded 11 others. Those killed included some of France's best known cartoonists, and the economist Bernard Maris, who was a friend of Houellebecq.

The writer was "deeply affected by the death", his agent Francois Samuelson told AFP.

He "left Paris to get away from it all, to the snow", Houellebecq's publisher Flammarion added.

The author is no stranger to controversy and his latest novel received blanket media coverage in France this week.

Houellebecq prompted outrage in 2001 by stating in an interview that "the most stupid religion is, let's face it, Islam".

According to Samuelson, Houellebecq is not currently under police protection.

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© 2015 AFP

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