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ICG Report: France and its Muslims: Riots, Jihadism and Depoliticisation

March 9, 2006


France faces a problem with its Muslim population, but it is not the problem it generally assumes. The October-November 2005 riots coupled with the wave of arrests of suspected jihadists moved the question of Islam to the forefront of French concerns and gave new life to concerns about the threat of a Muslim world mobilised by political Islamism. Yet the opposite is true: paradoxically, it is the exhaustion of political Islamism, not its radicalisation, that explains much of the violence, and it is the depoliticisation of young Muslims, rather than their alleged reversion to a radical kind of communalism, that ought to be cause for worry.  The key to minimising the risks of rioting and militant jihadism is to curb forms of state violence being exercised against predominantly Muslim, working-class neighbourhoods and to promote political participation by their residents. 

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