The Charlie Hebdo Attacks
Failure of Islam, or: Failure of Politics?
in Understanding Political Islam
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This chapter continues the critical examination of the theses associated with Roy and Kepel that structure the French debate on the issue of Islamist radicalization. Kepel’s approach, like Roy’s, exacerbated an already-apparent contradiction. This consisted of minimizing the impact of ancient and ongoing North/South relations of domination on the behavior of the players concerned—if not ignoring it altogether. Fixated upon the form in which hostility to the Other is expressed, Kepel’s reading sidelines investigation into—or that takes into any sufficient account—the roots of the rising hostility towards the Western world across whole swaths of the Muslim world. To arrive at a nearly identical result, Roy, almost from thin air, created a jihadi who sprung from nowhere, asking us to believe that this figure was entirely disconnected from its original milieu (Muslims in France). The result was to make it impossible to think through any short-term or historical correlation with the injustices of all kinds endured in this milieu. Kepel, for his part, mentioned such suffering only in passing—all the better to gloss over it.

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