I am very happy to introduce my book to American readers. This year The Mosque of Notre Dame turned ten years old. So far, it has been published in Russian, Serbian, Polish, Bulgarian, Turkish, and French, and translated into Norwegian. I find it hard to express my appreciation to all the novel’s friends and supporters, whose selfless efforts have made it possible for the book to reach countless new readers around the world.
Still, I am sometimes enveloped by a sense of gloom. I am terrified that we are losing precious time. The danger described in The Mosque of Notre Dame grows every day. I began writing this novel after the fall of the Twin Towers in 2001, but before the mass murder of schoolchildren in the Russian city of Beslan by Islamic terrorists in 2004. Do most Americans even know about the horrible tragedy of Beslan— those three days during which all Russians sat, glued to their television screens, praying? Chechen Muslim terrorists had attacked a village school and kidnapped more than 700 children, imprisoning them in a stuffy gymnasium built to accommodate 100 people. Before the suspense and horror ended, 333 people, including rescuers, were murdered. Half of those killed—186 of them—were children as young as 9 years old.
If facts cannot be silenced, they still can be distorted. Do Russians know about the fall of the Twin Towers? Definitely. But how many bizarre Russian versions of this event have I heard over the years, according to which the Towers were toppled by “non-Muslims”? For some reason, someone is very interested in preventing discussion about the threat to our civilization posed by Islamic occupation.
The character of Sophia, the principal heroine of my novel, appeared in my imagination after I read a news story about a twelve-year-old Russian girl, the daughter of a businessman, who was kidnapped by Chechen bandits. The girl was held for more than six months and was tortured and abused. To speed the father’s ransom payments, the kidnappers cut off two of her fingers. Eventually, the girl was rescued and the kidnappers arrested.
An American offered to pay for the girl’s rehabilitation at a U.S. clinic—since all her family’s resources had been spent on her ransom. But the rescued girl was refused entry to the United States by the State Department. Strangest of all, the story of this poor, wounded girl being barred entry by the usually generous U.S. government went virtually unreported in America’s news media.
It is worth noting that, at the time, many people in the West had been making excuses for the Chechen criminals. So perhaps it was inconvenient that, unlike mere words, a maimed child’s injuries offer incontrovertible evidence of the depravity of the people the Western press likes to call Muslim “militants.”
A thought crossed my mind: If there is no justice in this world, will this girl seek vengeance when she grows up? As it turned out, she chose another, better path. That is why I do not mention her name. But as the story develops in my novel, the heroine chooses vengeance—a lonely, bitter path.
Most of the large-scale events the book describes have not yet taken place in our world. The European Union has not turned into Eurabia—so far. For now, vineyards have not been cut down. The great paintings of Western art have not been burned. And the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame has not been turned into a mosque. But how the year 2048 will turn out for Europe and the West depends on us.
This book must be read today, because tomorrow may be too late.
Calvados, France - Moscow, Russia IV August