The French anti-racist movement and the 'Muslim Question'

Timothy Peace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


The question of Islam and the existence of Islamophobia are hotly debated and contested issues in France, particularly since the law banning religious symbols in schools. One aspect of this debate that has been neglected by scholars has been the way in which these questions have divided many on the Left in France, a situation that is particularly acute amongst French anti-racist groups. In this chapter I trace the roots of these divisions which have resurfaced and been exacerbated by episodes in recent years, in particular the parallel rise in Islamophobia and acts of antisemitism. I shed light on the reasons for the splits and internal divisions that have been created within organisations such as the MRAP and examine in particular the Mohammed caricature controversy and the subsequent trial of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. I argue that the divisions within these groups are less a product of the latent islamophobia produced by the media and more a consequence of the deeply embedded norms and discourses within the anti-racist movement that has, to some extent, been thrown into practical disarray by the emergence of ‘the Muslim question’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical and Cultural Representations of Muslims
Subtitle of host publicationIslam in the Plural
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789004231023
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • anti-racism
  • France
  • Islam in Europe

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