French intellectual and philosopher Roger Garaudy ,died on Wednesday in the Paris suburb of Chennevieres aged 98, officials said today. Born to Catholic and atheist parents in Marseille, Garaudy converted at age 14 and became a Protestant. 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. Following the war, Garaudy joined the French Communist Party. 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. He became a leading party theoretician for the FCP and authored scores of scholarly works. 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 Abb? Pierre, who in later years supported Garaudy, even as regarded the latter's most controversial views. In 1970, Garaudy was expelled from the Communist Party following his outspoken criticism of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Garaudy converted to Islam in 1982. As a Muslim he adopted the name "Ragaa" and became a prominent Islamic commentator and supporter of the Palestinian cause. Garaudy authored more than 50 books, mainly on political philosophy and Marxism. In 1996 Garaudy published his most controversial work, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israelienne, later translated into English as The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. Because the book contained Holocaust denial, French courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined him 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years. Garaudy was hailed in the Muslim world and received substantial financial, political and public support. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, 160 members of the parliament signed a petition in Garaudy's support. In June 1999, Jordanian intellectuals named Garaudy "the most important international cultural personality of the 20th century." Former Syrian Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam has called Garaudy "the greatest contemporary Western philosopher." Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi stated that Garaudy is "Europe's greater philosopher since Plato and Aristotle" Garaudy was a Co-winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Services to Islam in 1986. In February 2006, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah described Garaudy as "a great French philosopher." Nasrallah went on to praise Garaudy for exposing "alleged Jewish Holocaust in Germany" and stated that Garaudy "proved that this Holocaust is a myth." Nasrallah also criticized France for putting Garaudy on trial.