François Burgat
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‘French-style’ Islamophobia
From historical roots to electioneering exploitation
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The tensions and rifts between France and the Muslim world, whether domestic or regional, may be analysed as resulting from various historic dynamics. The most important of these rifts is an internal one. It is by far the most structural – and the most decisive. Above all, it is rooted in the contemporary, post-Revolutionary history of French society. This rift has, however, been made more explicit and amplified by recent political power struggles, particularly since 2018. Like many of their European counterparts, for several decades, French political forces had thrown themselves into defiant electioneering one-upmanship against their fellow citizens descended from Muslim backgrounds. Since 2018, this posture has no longer been the sole preserve of far-right political forces. It has become the position of a quasi-majority of the political landscape. Far more consequentially, it has become the policy of the government of President Emmanuel Macron. This chapter examines the historical roots of Islamophobia in the French context, as well as how the issue of Muslims and Islamophobia has become deeply politicised in France.

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