French Muslim union sues nation's biggest literary star Houellebecq

The Union of Mosques in France is suing the controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq for discrimination, hate speech and inciting violence in remarks to an interviewer, the organisation told AFP on Friday.

Houellebecq, whose books sell in big numbers, penned the international headline-grabbing 2015 novel "Submission" about a Muslim winning the presidency, which taps into right-wing fears over the rise of Islam.

He is accused of telling an interviewer for the "Front Populaire" publication that Muslims in France should "stop stealing and being aggressive" to "ethnic" French people.

The passages suggest there could be violence towards French Muslims, which he dubbed "reverse Bataclans", a reference to the 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall by French and Belgian-born jihadists with links to the Islamic State group.

Houellebecq has said the controversial sections would be edited out of the interview online, and in a forthcoming book in which the remarks will feature.

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the union, said in a statement "his proposal to replace them in a forthcoming book does not put an end to their dissemination and does not protect Muslims from their consequences".

Stephane Simon, a contributor to "Front Populaire", and the interviewer, philosopher Michel Onfray, are also named in the lawsuit, lawyer Najwa El Haite told AFP.

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