8th Annual Paris Islamophobia Conference: France's Separatism

15 Jan 2022


Join online us this Saturday on a Facebook Livestream

Using claims of fighting “Islamic Separatism” in the country, French President Emmanuel Macron instituted a number of draconian measures targeting Muslim communities in France, which included closing mosques and a number of Muslim charitable and civil society associations. Taken together, the measures point to Muslims being accorded differentiated treatment under French laws and prima facie evidence of inferior citizenship status in the country. Not only did the French state close Mosques and civil society organizations, but also undertook measures to “regulate” and directly interfere in the articulation of Islam, trilaterly in terms of its legal, theological and communal aspects. “Islam has a problem” is the catch-all framing used by President Marcon to institute a set of measures uniquely “suited” to Muslims; as a racialized and differentiated religious community, and a distinct “inferriorized” class in France.

Indeed, France’s method of engagement with Islam and Muslims is neither new, nor an outcome of contemporary circumstances, difficult and complex as it maybe. Governing, reforming and regulating Islam has been a French preoccupation since Napolean’s ill-fated Egyptian adventure in 1798, which was undertaken to threaten British colonial interest and trade routes to India. Napoleon needed Islam as a foil for French imperial interests opposite the British, which was easily framed in a “civilizational and liberatory” mission to the Muslim world. The idea of the Muslim and bad Muslim is not new, and Napolean himself introduced it when the French army ran into difficulty in military operations south of Cairo. Today, Macron’s campaign in the name of “separatism” inside the country qualifies as an attempt at a distraction for French current Military involvement in the Francophone zone as well as the domestic failure of the neoliberal economic project. Racism and Islamophobia are introduced as a distraction and diversion from asking the critical questions related to economics and foreign policies while preventing and disrupting real racial and class solidarity.

France’s colonial present produces and constantly reintroduces the epistemological foundation of separatism; the type that is structured around racializing Islam and Muslims, positing the civilized-uncivilized, rational-irrational, modern-traditional, violent-peaceful, liberal-illiberal and inclusion-execlusion binaries. Separatism is what Muslims and non-White immigrants experience daily in France’s colonial present, which is internally and externally manifested. The 8th annual conference invites papers to interrogate the unique French brand of Islamophobia and the persistent intrusion into Muslims’ religious life, space and communal expressions through the use of an extreme version of secularism. Papers may take a historical examination of France’s colonial past and the violent entanglements in Muslim majority states that continue to shape relations in the current period. Additionally, papers may take on the contemporary developments in France and provide analysis based on academic or scholarly specialization or utilize a comparative with other regions i.e. Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, UK or USA.

*Promoted by University of Pittsburgh*

Event Date: 
Saturday, January 15, 2022 - 11:30am to 6:45pm