Charlie Hebdo, Republican Secularism and Islamophobia

Abstract

The events of January 2015 took place in a context where Islamophobia has become increasingly prevalent. The French far right, and the Front National in particular, found in the stigmatisation of the Muslim community (however loosely defined) an invaluable way to distance itself from its traditional and ideological reliance on crude biological racism, through the use of more insidious forms of culturalism. While their Islamophobia often took an illiberal shape, a more mainstream, acceptable and accepted form has become commonplace within the political discourse of 21st century France. This chapter will examine trends of Islamophobia in France and their global reach and influences. It will then put them in the context of the Charlie Hebdo events and the debate surrounding freedom of speech, bringing reactions to the events from France, Europe and the United States to highlight the discrepancies in understanding what has been the most potent ideological signifier in binding liberals and illiberals together in the aftermath of the attacks.
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