The Other “at Home,” or: Islam in France
in Understanding Political Islam
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This chapter addresses how, gradually, the question of the relationship to the Muslim Other moved out from the lands of the South or the Orient, and landed at Europe’s doorstep. In this context, fitting inside one another like so many Russian dolls, (non-Muslim) French representations of Islam in France appear as tied above all to the identity-based problematic of how Otherness is constructed. It examines why, for an overwhelming majority of French people, “Islam in France” refers to the resounding intrusion into the national fabric of the very symbol of the Other’s culture. Things get “worse” when one grasps the measure of the fact that “the Other’s culture” is not just any culture—but a religious one at that; that this Other is not just any Other—but the previously colonized Other; and that the encounter with this particular Other occurs within a territorial framework (“at home”) that charges it with specific meaning.

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