Roger Garaudy

Roger Garaudy (French: [gaʁodi]; 17 July 1913 – 13 June 2012),[1][2] was a French philosopher, French resistance fighter and a communist author. He converted to Islam in 1982. In 1998, he was convicted and fined for Holocaust denial under French law for claiming that the death of six million Jews was a "myth".[2][3][4]

Roger Garaudy
Senator for Seine
In office
26 April 1959 – 31 October 1962
Member of the National Assembly
for Seine
In office
2 January 1956 – 8 December 1958
Member of the National Assembly
for Tarn
In office
21 October 1945 – 4 July 1951
Personal details
Born(1913-07-17)17 July 1913
Marseille, France
Died13 June 2012(2012-06-13) (aged 98)
Paris, France
Political partyFrench Communist Party (1933–1970)

Early life and educationEdit

Roger Garaudy was born in Marseille to working class parents.[5] During World War II, Garaudy joined the French Resistance, for which he was imprisoned in Djelfa, Algeria as a prisoner of war of Vichy France.[6]

Garaudy converted to Islam in 1982 after marrying a Palestinian woman, later writing that "The Christ of Paul is not the Jesus of the Bible," and also forming other critical scholarly conclusions regarding the Old and New Testaments.[citation needed] He became an Islamic commentator and supporter of the Palestinian cause.[citation needed]

Political careerEdit

Garaudy joined the French Communist Party in 1933.[7] By mid 1940s, Garaudy was considered a leading polemicist within the party.[8] He rose through the ranks and in 1945 he became a member of the party's leadership[7] and the Central Executive Committee, where he occupied positions for 28 years.[5]

As a political candidate, he succeeded in being elected to the National Assembly and eventually rose to the position of deputy speaker, and later senator.[citation needed]

Garaudy remained a Christian and eventually re-converted to Catholicism during his political career. He was befriended by one of France's most prominent clerics of the time, the Abbé Pierre, who in later years supported Garaudy, even regarding the latter's most controversial views.[9]

Garaudy wrote more than 50 books, mainly on political philosophy and Marxism.[citation needed]

Garaudy was expelled from the Communist Party in May 1970, because he had criticized the party's position on the student movement and Czechoslovakia.[7] His philosophical and political views were characterized as revisionist by Soviet commentators.[10]

Academic careerEdit

He obtained a state doctorate in philosophy in 1953, with a dissertation discussing theory of knowledge and materialism, entitled La théorie matérialiste de la connaissance.[5] In May 1954, Garaudy defended another doctoral thesis, The Problem of Freedom and Necessity in the Light of Marxism, at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences.[11]

Garaudy lectured in the faculty of arts department of the University of Clermont-Ferrand from 1962–1965. Due to controversies between Garaudy and Michel Foucault, Garaudy left. He later taught in Poitiers from 1969–1972.[2]

His main research subject was foundations of revolutionary politics.[5]

Support from Iranian politiciansEdit

In Iran, 160 members of the parliament signed a petition in Garaudy's support. Senior Iranian officials invited him to Tehran and received him warmly. Iranian leaders condemned Israel and the West for bringing Garaudy to trial. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cited Garaudy for his work in exposing the Zionists’ "Nazi-like behavior." Iranian President Mohammad Khatami described Garaudy as "a thinker" and "a believer" who was brought to trial merely for publishing research which was "displeasing to the West."[12]

Later activitiesEdit

In December 2006, Garaudy was unable to attend the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Tehran, Iran owing to ill health. He reportedly sent a videotaped message supporting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's view that Israel should cease to exist.[13][14]

Personal lifeEdit

Religious beliefsEdit

He was born into a Catholic family. At the age of 14, Garaudy converted to Protestantism.[5]


Roger Garaudy died in Paris on 13 June 2012, aged 98.[citation needed]

Political and philosophical viewsEdit

As of 1940s, Garaudy was critical of Jean-Paul Sartre's view of freedom, maintaining that it lacks any social, economic, political or historical context.[8] He criticized Being and Nothingness for what he deemed not going beyond the domain of metaphysical pathology, and Sartre's novels for "depicting only degenerates and human wrecks" and describing his existentialism as "a sickness".[8]

Garaudy's faith in communism was shaken in 1956, after Nikita Khrushchev made the Secret Speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[5] Afterwards, he espoused an eclectic and humanist view on Marxism, strictly opposing the theoretical Marxism of Louis Althusser and advocating dialogue with other schools of thought.[7]

In 1974, Frederic Will described him as sympathetic towards Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Gabriel Marcel. He held that the Western culture was something of a coalition between the idealistic philosophy and the elite class, which is devoted to turning man away from the material world.[15] The goal of socialism in his view was not simply economic or providing social justice, but also giving each individual their personal chances for creativity.[5]

In The Case of Israel: A Study of Political Zionism (1983), Garaudy portrays Zionism as an isolationist and segregationist ideology that is not only dependent on antisemitism to nourish, but also willfully encourages it to achieve its goals.[16]

Legal issuesEdit

Conviction of violating Gayssot ActEdit

In 1996, Garaudy[17] published, with his editor Pierre Guillaume, the work Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne (literally, The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics), later translated into English as The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. In the book he wrote of "the myth of the six million" Jewish victims of the Holocaust.[18] Because of this breach of French law concerning Holocaust denial, the courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined Garaudy 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years. Garaudy appealed this decision to the European Court of Human Rights, but his appeal was rejected as inadmissible.[18][19] At his hearing, Garaudy stated that his book in no way condoned National Socialist methods, and that book was an attack on the mythologizing and use of "the holocaust" by Israeli government as policy. He argued that his book dealt with the Israeli government's use of "the holocaust" as a "justifying dogma" for its actions, mainly in Palestine and toward Palestinians.[20]

Garaudy v. FranceEdit

Garaudy challenged the French ruling and appealed to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), stating that his book was a political work criticizing the policies of Israel that did not deny that the Nazis had committed crimes against humanity, and that his freedom of expression was interfered by the French courts. The ECHR disagreed and ruled that Garaudy has denied historical facts in his book which is not a research work. It also argued that the interference pursued two of the legitimate aims included in Gayssot Act articles and is not a violation of Garaudy's right for free speech. The ECHR did not use this rationale in Perinçek v. Switzerland.[21]


According to Azzam Tamimi, Tunisian thinker Rached Ghannouchi was inspired by Garaudy in the early 1980s, after he read a translation of his book on women. He subsequently authored a treatise on women rights and on the status of women in the Islamic movement, partly influenced by Garaudy's work.[22]



The author of more than 70 books,[23][24] some his translated works include:

  • Literature of the Graveyard: Jean-Paul Sartre, François Mauriac, André Malraux, Arthur Koestler, New York, International Publishers, 1948.
  • Science and Faith in Teilhard de Chardin, in collaboration with Claude Cuenot, Garnstone Press, 1967.
  • Karl Marx: The Evolution of his Thought, International Publishers, 1967, Greenwood Press, 1967, Lawrence & Wishart, 1967.
  • From Anathema to Dialogue: The Challenge of Marxist-Christian Cooperation, Collins, 1967.
  • From Anathema to Dialogue: A Marxist Challenge to the Christian Churches, Vintage, 1968.
  • A Christian-Communist Dialogue: Exploration for Co-operation between a Marxist and a Christian, in collaboration with Quentin Laur, S.J., Doubleday, 1968.
  • Marxism in the Twentieth Century, HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1970, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970, Collins, 1970.
  • The Crisis in Communism: The Turning Point of Socialism, Grove Press, 1970.
  • The Turning Point of Socialism, HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1970.
  • Socialism's Unanswered Questions: Europe 1968, Sydney, Australian Left Review, 1970.
  • The Whole Truth, Fontana, 1971.
  • The Alternative Future: A Vision of Christian Marxism, Simon & Schuster, 1974.
  • God, Marx, and the Future: Dialogue with Roger Garaudy, in collaboration with Russell Bradner Norris, Fortress Press, c. 1974.
  • Karl Marx: Evolution of his Thought, Praeger, 1977, ABC-CLIO, 1977.
  • The Case of Israel: A Study of Political Zionism, Shorouk International, 1983.
  • Mosquée, miroir de l'Islam, The Mosque, Mirror of Islam, Editions du Jaguar, 1985.
  • The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics, published by Aaargh, 1996.
  • The Mythical Foundations of Israeli Policy, Studies Forum International, 1997.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "French philosopher Roger Garaudy dies". 15 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Tony Cross (15 June 2012). "From French resistance to Holocaust denial – Roger Garaudy dies at 98". RFI English.
  3. ^ Atkins, Stephen E. (1 January 2009). Holocaust Denial as an International Movement. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313345388.
  4. ^ Simon Epstein, "Roger Garaudy, Abbé Pierre, and the French Negationists", in: Robert S. Wistrich (editor), Holocaust Denial: The Politics of Perfidy, De Gruyter with Magnes Press (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), 2012, pp. 85–107, ISBN 9783110288148 [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Edouard, Morot-Sir (1980), "Garaudy, Roger (1913–)", The Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature (2nd ed.), Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-03717-4
  6. ^ Garaudy, Roger (1 November 2000). The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. Newport Beach, CA: Inst for Historical Review. ISBN 9780939484751.
  7. ^ a b c d Kelly, Michael (2005), "Garaudy, Roger", in France, Peter (ed.), The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780198661252.001.0001, ISBN 9780191735004
  8. ^ a b c Drake, David (2010), "The 'Anti-Existentialist Offensive': The French Communist Party against Sartre (1944—1948)", Sartre Studies International, 16 (1): 69–94, doi:10.3167/ssi.2010 (inactive 21 November 2020)CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of November 2020 (link)
  9. ^ "Ce qui a fait chuter l'abbé Pierre", L'Express, 02-05-1996, (in French).
  10. ^ See Marxism and the Renegade Garaudy and Scientific Communism and Its Modern Falsifiers.
  11. ^ Wetter, Gustav Andreas (1960), Dialectical Materialism: A Historical and Systematic Survey of Philosophy in the Soviet Union, F. A. Praeger, p. 241
  12. ^ Iran, the Jews and the Holocaust Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine by David Menashri (Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Director of the Center of Iranian Studies and Incumbent of the Parviz and Pouran Nazarian Chair for Modern Iranian Studies, Tel Aviv University).
  13. ^ "The Jewish Week | Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion". The Jewish Week | Connecting The World To Jewish News, Culture & Opinion. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  14. ^ Al-awsat, Asharq (10 April 2007). "Roger Garaudy – ASHARQ AL-AWSAT". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  15. ^ Will, Frederick (1974), "Roger Garaudy, the Hellenic Tradition, and Imaginative Space", The Classical Journal, 69 (4): 328–330, JSTOR 295973
  16. ^ Wistrich, Robert S. (2015), "The Anti-Zionist Mythology of the Left", Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 9 (2): 189–199, doi:10.1080/23739770.2015.1037579, S2CID 146147436
  17. ^ "From French resistance to Holocaust denial – Roger Garaudy dies at 98 – Africa – Radio France Internationale". 15 June 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Writer fined for 'holocaust' writings". BBC News. BBC. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  19. ^ Inadmissibility Decision in the Case of Garaudy v. France, European Court of Human Rights, 7 July. 2003.
  20. ^ "Writer fined for holocaust writings". BBC News. BBC. 27 February 1998. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  21. ^ Gorton, Sean (2015), "The Uncertain Future of Genocide Denial Laws in the European Union" (PDF), The George Washington International Law Review, 47 (2): 421–445
  22. ^ Tamimi, Azzam (2013), "Rashid Al-Ghannushi", in Esposito, John L.; Shahin, Emad El-Din (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195395891.013.0028 (inactive 21 November 2020), ISBN 9780195395891CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of November 2020 (link)
  23. ^ "Décès de Roger Garaudy, un ex-intellectuel communiste devenu négationniste", France Info

Further readingEdit

  • Maurice Cranston, "The Thought of Roger Garaudy," Problems of Communism, vol. 19, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1970), pp. 11–18.
  • André Dupleix, Le Socialisme de Roger Garaudy et le problème religieux, Toulouse: Privat, 1971.
  • Michaël Prazan and Adrien Minard, Roger Garaudy, itinéraire d'une négation, Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 2007.