chapter  9
Islamophobia and the Left in France
WithTimothy Peace
Pages 13

France is often described as having a big problem with anti-Muslim prejudice. Indeed, until relatively recently, many French commentators did not even want to employ the term ‘Islamophobia’. In France, there exists a media and political obsession with the lives of its Muslim citizens who are often put under the spotlight for a supposed lack of commitment to secularism, republicanism and French values. While these debates may be common to many countries with a significant Muslim minority, in France it takes on an added significance because of the almost total consensus across the political spectrum that there is a ‘Muslim problem’ that needs to be addressed. This chapter will set out some of the reasons why this consensus exists by pointing to the rise of neo-republicanism and the subsequent race to the bottom among politicians to appear tough on visible difference and multiculturalism in the face of increasing support for the far right Front National (FN). It will also discuss how French Muslims themselves are responding to this situation in an increasingly sophisticated manner by challenging discrimination, not just through forms of protest, but also in the courts. Particular attention will be placed on the legal framework and the work of NGOS such as the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which fight to have acts of Islamophobia recognised as hate crimes. In a climate of increasing suspicion in the wake of a spate of terrorist attacks perpetrated on French soil, the chapter will also investigate the policy responses to the twin challenges of Islamophobic revenge attacks and the potential further alienation of French Muslims citizens. Finally the chapter will conclude with a reflection on the 2017 Presidential campaign in which the FN candidate Marine Le Pen is expected to perform well.