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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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Prime Minister Theresa May were quick to call Darren Osborne’s June 19 attack in London an act of terrorism. Osborne allegedly shouted “I’m going to kill all Muslims” as he drove a van into the crowd leaving the Muslim Welfare Centre, killing Makram Ali and injuring ten others. May explained that the attack was “declared a terrorist incident within eight minutes” of the first emergency call, and Dick commented that “this was quite clearly an attack on Muslims.”
Their statements came as a relief to some. For years, people have challenged the clear double standard applied to the word terrorism. While the media and officials quickly apply it to attacks perpetrated by those identified with or identifying as Muslims, restraint usually prevails in the wake of other violent crimes, particularly those with white perpetrators.
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This article will examine the construction, functions and relationship between the diverse and changing articulations of Islamophobia. The aim of this article is to contribute to debates about the definition of Islamophobia, which have tended to be contextually specific (and sometimes universalized), fixed and/or polarized between racism and religious prejudice, between extreme and mainstream, state and non-state versions, or undifferentiated, and equip those interested in the issue with a more nuanced framework to: (a) clearly delineate articulations of Islamophobia as opposed to precise types and categories; (b) highlight the porosity in the discourse between the more extreme articulations widely condemned in the mainstream, and the more normalized and insidious ones, which the former tend to render more acceptable in comparison; (c) map where these intersect in response to events, historical and political conditions and new ideological forces and imperatives; and (d) compare articulations of Islamophobia in two contexts, France and the United States of America, in order to demonstrate both contextual differences and overlap and the application of our analysis and framework
Mondon, A & Winter, A (2017) ‘Articulations of Islamophobia: From the Extreme to the Mainstream?’, Ethnic and Racial Studies. 40, 13
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