Relationship between France and Islam: how was it and how is it

REUTERS / Charles Platiau

Authors: Beatriz Canazzo Santáguita and Pedro Henrique Gonçalves

France is the country that has the largest Muslim population among the countries of the European Union (EU), currently having 5 millions of Muslims, What represents 7% of the French population. However,, even with this considerable portion of inhabitants, the relationship between France the Islamic population has been deteriorating due to the rise of Islamic separatism, radical Islamism that ignores the laws of the republic and promotes violence. In response to this movement, in October 2020, the president, Emmanuel Macron promised in his speech to fight this fanaticism, at first, increasing vigilance over people who practice indoctrination of any religion within schools, seen the concept of laïcité, that would be the separation of the state from religion and religious freedom, provided for in French legislation. Macron still acknowledges that it was the State's mistake to let this extremism happen.

Among the events that are possible drivers of this population revolt, the ban on clothing covering the face, no year of 2010, in the case of Islam the Niqab and the burqa, accessories that are present in the dogmas of religion and used specifically by women, may have been one of the influencing factors. The United Nations (HIM-HER-IT) spoke out against the measure taken, saying the action violates human rights, and criticized the country for not adequately justifying this attitude.

In response to these attitudes that go against religion, no year of 2015 there were some terrorist attacks, like the Charlie Hebdo massacre, whose main target was the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper that published cartoons of Islam, mainly from Muhammad, causing the death of 12 people. In the same year, in the night of the day 13 from November, mass attacks occurred during the night like restaurants and concert halls, one of them the Bataclã, murdering at least 120 people.

In a more recent context, in the month of October 2020, the death of a teacher, Samuel Paty, after showing caricatures of Muhammad in class on freedom of expression, resulting in a wave of protests in France criticizing totalitarianism. In short, all of these attacks cause political instability, besides showing an intolerance by both parties, it is also worth mentioning the lack of control by the government in relation to these extremist groups, in addition to their dissatisfaction due to attitudes in which they are contrary to their religion.

Bibliographic references

BRAZILIAN MAIL. France's President calls on the country to fight ‘Islamist separatism’. Available in <https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/mundo/2020/10/4879519-presidente-da-franca-convoca-o-pais-a-combater-separatismo-islamista.html>.Access in 9 nov. 2020.

THE COUNTRY. Thousands take to the streets in France in honor of teacher beheaded by Islamic terrorist. Available in <https://brasil.elpais.com/internacional/2020-10-18/milhares-saem-as-ruas-na-franca-em-homenagem-a-professor-decapitado-por-terrorista-islamico.html>. Access in 9 nov. 2020.

GOSPEL SHEET. France President says “Islam is a religion in crisis”. Available in <https://folhagospel.com/presidente-da-franca-diz-que-isla-e-uma-religiao-em-crise/>. Access in 9 nov. 2020.

G1 GLOBE. French police carry out operation against Islamic movements after professor beheaded. Available in < https://g1.globo.com/mundo/noticia/2020/10/19/professor-decapitado-na-franca-foi-vitima-de-sentenca-de-morte-islamica-diz-ministro-do-interior.ghtml>. Access in 9 nov. 2020.

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The European Studies and Business Center (NENE) is linked to the Brazilian Center for International Business Studies & Corporate Diplomacy (CBENI) from ESPM-SP. It was created considering the need to stimulate the Brazilian and Latin American academic community to better understand their relations with Europeans, seeking to understand and deepen the Brazil-European Union Strategic Partnership.