The rest of the article is available on limited access:By 2084, will Islam rule the world?
The novelist Boualem Sansal foresees the universal caliphate becoming a grim reality within the next two generations
2084: The End of the World Boualem Sansal, translated from the French by Alison Anderson
Europa Editions, pp.240, £11.99
Boualem Sansal’s prophetic novel very clearly derives its lineage from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A totalitarian surveillance state, a fundamentalist religious autocracy, is portrayed as being totally intolerant of free-thinkers. This is a powerful satire on an Islamist dictatorship. It is unsurprising that Sansal’s writings are censored in his native Algeria.
The religious structure of the political state is familiar. The one true god is Yolah and his prophet or ‘Delegate’ is Abi. Abi’s book, the Gkabul, is the foundation of the religion; it is sacrosanct and immutable. Places of worship are mockbas and the nation is named Abistan after the true disciple. There are nine calls to prayer each day. An official language has been instituted, Abilang. Orwell’s Newspeak chimes in the memory.
The state’s hierarchy mimics regimes we recognise. Abistan has its supreme leader, its Just Brotherhood, its Apparatus, ministries that oversee every aspect of society; they all watch over a cowed and depressed population. Anyone who is detected dissenting from established views, by official investigation or by the evidence of informers, is arrested and taken for public execution by stoning or beheading to one of many stadiums. Women are hardly noticeable and rarely mentioned; their masks and burniqabs render them ‘fleeting shadows’.
Michel Houellebecq’s subtle, threatening, frightening novel Submission imagines the democratic takeover of France by Islamist politicians. 2084 follows on, and has terrifying implications for the entire world.