A resolutely critical reflection on the notions of Muslimness and Arabness that the author has elected to base on the observation of young people, born of immigration and obliged to inhabit the suburbs of cities on either side of the Mediterranean. He makes rapid crossings that function like socio-cultural sections, cutting through the geology of precariously established societies; taking us to the suburbs of Casablanca and Algiers, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar with tides of illegal immigrants… He travels back in time, on the mystical and war-like path of Emir Abdelkader and his disciples – deported to the Pacific. Even earlier, he rediscovers one of the founders of sociology, Ibn Khaldoun, a 14th century North African whose theory of history has always enlightened – and still does, according to the author – the evolution of societies, characterised both by their Bedouin/Berber origins and by their youth and fecundity.
Reda Benkirane has taken up a hazardous challenge, but his authenticity and the dynamism of his approach are positive factors. With subtle brushstrokes, he attempts to capture a civilisation, its ideas and its adventures, its openness and its doubts, its truth and its symbols, its introspection and its perspectives. Via this analysis, which is made up of snapshots, narratives, and stories from life, the complexity of a situation is exposed in such a way as to invite the reader to a new way of thinking an otherness which is so close to us. The real signification of some vital notions is also revealed. Benkirane especially points out the other form of secularisation now at work in the Maghreb and Machreg, the decrease of the significance of Arabness in modern Islam, the call so often heard for a better understanding between the north and the south shores of the Mediterranean, and finally, the promise of renewal which can only be achieved by the democratisation of monarchies, the return of knowledge and freedom of innovating thought.