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Author: Nadia Kiwan

Through its focus on secular Muslim public intellectuals in contemporary France, this book challenges polarizing accounts of Islam and Muslims, which have been ubiquitous in political and media debates for the last thirty years. The work of these intellectuals is significant because it expresses, in diverse ways, an ‘internal’ vision of Islam that demonstrates how Muslim identification and practices successfully engage with and are part of a culture of secularism (laïcité). The study of individual secular Muslim intellectuals in contemporary France thus gives credence to the claim that the categories of religion and the secular are more closely intertwined than we might assume. This monograph is a timely publication that makes a crucial contribution to academic and political debates about the place of Islam and Muslims in contemporary France. The book will focus on a discursive and contextualised analysis of the published works and public interventions of Abdelwahab Meddeb, Malek Chebel, Leïla Babès, Dounia Bouzar and Abdennour Bidar – intellectuals who have received little scholarly attention despite being well-known figures in France.

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Enlightenment Islam
Nadia Kiwan

who seeks to productively confront non-​Western and Western concepts of religion, spirituality, modernity and humanism. Indeed, many of Chebel’s works could be regarded as ‘livres de vulgarisation’ (Catinchi 2016) (popular texts) whereby he aims to explain various aspects of the Quran or Islam to a non-​specialist French audience. Of specific significance is Chebel’s foregrounding of a language of Islamic secularism, which I argue can be interpreted as an attempt to transform perceptions of Islam and thus to intervene in the symbolic relationship between the

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Post-foundational Islam
Nadia Kiwan

20 1 Abdelwahab Meddeb: post-​foundational Islam This chapter examines the published works of Abdelwahab Meddeb.1 Of specific significance is Meddeb’s foregrounding of a language of Islamic secularism, which I  argue can be interpreted as an attempt to transform perceptions of Islam and thus to intervene into the symbolic power relations between the Republican state and France’s Muslim citizens. This chapter also poses questions about the consequences of deploying certain forms of discursive agency for secular Muslim intellectuals. What are the outcomes of

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Public intellectuals as policy experts in times of crisis
Nadia Kiwan

107 4 Dounia Bouzar: public intellectuals as policy experts in times of crisis The work of Dounia Bouzar and her engagement in the political debates about Muslims in France raises significant questions about the relationship between Islam, secularism and feminism. Bouzar is an anthropologist of religions: a public intellectual, an activist, a public ‘expert’ and a public policy advisor. Bouzar was born in 1964 in Grenoble into an academic family. Her father was of Algerian, Italian and Moroccan origin and her mother was French Corsican. She explains in L

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Existentialist Islam as intercultural translation
Nadia Kiwan

, makes him a particularly interesting figure through which to investigate the circulation of narratives concerning French Muslims and their diverse relationships with political and social secularism. Bidar was born in 1971 in France to a French mother who had converted to Islam before his birth and who raised him as a Muslim. Bidar grew up in the Auvergne region before leaving at the age of eighteen to attend the Lycée Henri-​ IV in Paris in order to prepare for the entrance examinations for the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. As a former student of the École

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
Imen Neffati

On 7 January 2015 the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris were attacked during the magazine’s weekly editorial meeting, leading to the deaths of twelve of its staff. The attack sparked an unprecedented debate about freedom of speech both internationally and in France, and about the Republican values of laïcité (French secularism) that Charlie Hebdo has been portrayed as representing. The literature that emerged immediately in the aftermath of the attack centred around several dramatic moments such as the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ slogan, the Republican marches of 10

in The free speech wars
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Nadia Kiwan

’islamisme séduit-​il? (2015) by journalist Mohammed Sifaoui or Une France Soumise edited by Georges Bensoussan (2017) becoming widely read ‘popular current affairs’ interventions on the issue. The ubiquity of both these themes –​veil and violence –​clearly demonstrate a great sense of anxiety about Islam and Muslims in contemporary France. Indeed, the 1989 headscarf affaire, when three pupils were suspended from a collège (middle school) in Creil for refusing to remove their veil, became the first in 2 2 Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France a

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Nadia Kiwan

tous, et c’est ce qui rassemble les citoyens autour des mêmes valeurs, quelles que soient 163 Conclusion 163 leurs croyances religieuses’ (Babès 2004: p. 13) (Secularism applies to everyone; it is what brings citizens together around the same values, regardless of their religious beliefs). A defender of the 2004 ban on religious symbols in public spaces, Bouzar states that ‘la France n’a pas à rougir de continuer à défendre cette valeur fondamentale face aux pressions, quelles qu’elles soient, et d’où qu’elles viennent’ (Babès 2004: p. 122) (France should not be

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Spirituality, affect and women
Nadia Kiwan

approach that examines the spiritual lives of Muslims, particularly in contemporary France. One finds throughout her work (in the form of monographs, essays, media interviews 86 86 Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France and blogs) a consistent interest in three aspects of Islam: what Babès refers to as la foi, le rite and la loi: faith, rituals (practices) and religious law. Spirituality, affect, passion In Babès’ earlier works one finds a consistent examination of the notions of faith and spirituality and how this is experienced in ‘lived

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
From Galway to Cloyne and beyond

This book engages with the spectacular disenchantment with Catholicism in Ireland over the relatively short period of four decades. It begins with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 and in particular his address to young people in Galway, where the crowd had been entertained beforehand by two of Ireland’s most celebrated clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary, both of whom were engaged at the time in romantic affairs that resulted in the birth of children. It will be argued that the Pope’s visit was prompted by concern at the significant fall in vocations to priesthood and the religious life and the increasing secularism of Irish society.

The book then explores the various referenda that took place during the 1980s on divorce and abortion which, although they resulted in victories for the Church, demonstrated that their hold on the Irish public was weakening. The clerical abuse scandals of the 1990s were the tipping point for an Irish public which was generally resentful of the intrusive and repressive form of Catholicism that had been the norm in Ireland since the formation of the State in the 1920s.

Boasting an impressive array of contributors from various backgrounds and expertise, the essays in the book attempt to delineate the exact reasons for the progressive dismantling of the cultural legacy of Catholicism and the consequences this has had on Irish society. Among the contributors are Patricia Casey, Joe Cleary, Michael Cronin, Louise Fuller, Patsy McGarry, Vincent Twomey and Eamonn Wall.