Laïcité and Islam: the positions of Macron and Le Pen has published a compilation video of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen’s statements regarding Islam and laïcité.

Clips include Macron asking: “how can we ask our fellow citizens [Muslims] to believe in the Republic if certain people use laïcité to tell them there is no place for them here?” and later stating “there is no problematic religion in France.”

In one clip, Le Pen stated: “the veil is an act of submission for the woman.” She later announced her intention to bank the burkini, and linked the act of wearing one to being an Islamist. “Women actually take advantage of political Islam, which puts enormous pressure on them to impose its visibility,” she said.

Click here to watch the full video.

Zaman interview with Dounia Bouzar on radical Islam

January 16, 2014


Anthropologist of religion and expert at the National Observatory of Secularism, Dounia Bazar addresses the issue of radical Islam in her latest work, ‘Countering Radical Islam’ in which she delivers the fruits of her fifteen years of analyses on this minority phenomena that nonetheless often gets conflated with the entirety of the French Muslim population. In her interview with Zaman, Bouzar emphasizes that radicalism has nothing to do with Islam, but is the result of a psychological process.

Bouzar states that she wrote the book for two audiences: the Islamophobes and the Islamophiles (educators, intellectuals, non-Muslim thinkers of Islam). According to her, they are two sides of the same coin because both groups perceive Muslims as a homogenous entity, whether inferior or simply different, and ultimately they both contribute to the same line of thinking as the extreme right-wing party, the National Front.  Bouzar stresses how one needs to distinguish between Islam and its radical forms since maintaining the confusion benefits radicals and Islamophobes alikes.

Bouzar defines radical Islam as a discourse that relies on self-exclusion or the exclusion of others, and leads to a process of identity rupture. It deploys all the psychological tools of cultish movements: breaking with civilization, destruction of personal and family history, the myth of a purified group withholding ‘ultimate truth’, and the replacement of rationality with imitation. Young people under 30 in particular, who have no other form of religious transmission, are prone to being drawn to this kind of discourse on the internet.

Another characteristic of cultish movements is the establishment of indomitable symbolic barriers between members and the ‘evil’ society around them. This leads to an overt religious exhibition, such as the wearing of long beards and the niqab. These displays have nothing to do with testing the State, it is more about self-protection and the preservation of purity in today’s world in decline.  It also has nothing to do with Islamism – Islamists have a political agenda while radical puritans have an almost apocalyptical project to save the world.

Bouzar has in fact been a long-time supporter of religious visibility in France, and was one of the first to work on ‘Frenchisization’ of the headscarf. Taking into account that Islam is a culturally adaptable religion, and that the French wish to see a visibly ‘French woman’, Bouzar developed the idea of a scarf that would be esthetically compatible with France’s cultural heritage. She was equally against the move to ban headscarved mothers from participating in school trips, because it is precisely visibility – not hiding one’s Muslim identity due to already feeling at home – that is a sign of true integration.

Those attracted to extreme discourses have the feeling that society doesn’t offer them a place and role to play. Banning veiled mothers from schools sends precisely the message to children that their kind do not have place in society, and that they are in fact ‘banned’ from society.

Bouzar challenges the idea that French Muslims have an inherent sectarian attitude towards the rest of society. She affirms that a problem of social ghettoization exists, but it is not of the ghetto’s own accord. French Muslims in fact believe in the promises of the République, and the role of politicians should be to guarantee them a place in society.



“The problem with Islam is not the religion but its visibility”

Zaman France


Marie Le Pen, the President of the French far-right party Front National (FN), expressed in an interview with Zaman France her discontent with Islam and France’s Muslim community.  Contrary to accusations of being islamophobic, Le Pen considers her party to be a defender of secularism and France’s Christian traditions. She argues that France’s Muslim community is in its majority of immigrant background and thus needs to confirm with France’s rules and traditions instead of ‘imposing its own’. She defies the Muslim hijab, halal food requirements and  Muslim calls for prayers as being incompatible with French culture.  The visibility of Islamic cultures and traditions is according to her the real source of contention for her and her followers.

She further encourages the assimilation of Muslims into French culture and identity, which she considers to be a proud culture that has to be primary and not secondary. Instead of placing religion prior to their nationality, Muslims should put more emphasis upon their national identity and citizenship than their faith in their identity production, Le Pen argues.

Seeing Islam in Global Cities: A Spatial Semiotic Analysis

Jerome Krase & Timothy Shortell, Department of Sociology, Brooklyn College CUNY NYC Turkish Day Parade

As noted by Krase and colleagues (Krase & Hum 2007; Krase & Shortell 2009, 2011; Shortell & Krase 2011, 2012), visual sociology of changing urban neighborhoods is not merely an aesthetic exercise of finding images to illustrate sociological concepts. Rather, it is an increasingly important way to investigate social change. Cities on every continent have been deluged by the rapid influx of large numbers of people and products from cultures different from native-born residents. Because of globalization, “cultural strangers” share common urban environments. Although these “strangers” frequently live within the same large-scale political boundaries, the real test of community takes place during the course of everyday life on the streets, in the shops, and public spaces of neighborhoods. At present, examination of the visual semiotics of difference is especially important as American and European cultures interact with Islamic cultures. Visual representations of Islam are common in the US and EU; these are generally negative and often derogatory, as a quick Google image search reveals. Local political talk about Islam tends to be critical and often panicked. Nativist politics are on the rise throughout the West and the central point of contention seems to be visibility. The “burqa controversy” in France and the conflict over a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan (the so-called “WTC mosque”) are recent examples of the disputes over urban public space involving representations of collective identity. Public space becomes the locus of the public sphere, where visibility conflicts—who is seen in public space—become disputes about who ought to be included in the national “public.” Using a spatial semiotic analysis, we investigate how the presence of expressive, conative, phatic, and poetic signs of recent Muslim inhabitants change the meaning of vernacular neighborhoods in global cities. Visual data from urban neighborhoods in the US and Europe will be presented as examples of different functions of semiotic markers, and exemplars of the data we collect using a neighborhood photographic survey technique. We discuss how these different functions interact with local policy to create interpretive landscapes, which can lead to dramatically different outcomes in terms of social conflict.


In the attached PDF is a small sample photographs that cover a tiny fraction of Islamic representations, these taken by Jerome Krase, that are part of our archive of galleries at:


download pdf

KraseShortell_SeeingIslamGlobalCities wfotos



Krase, Jerome & Tarry Hum. 2007. “Ethnic Crossroads: Toward a Theory of Immigrant Global Neighborhoods,” Pp 97-119 in Ethnic Landscapes in an Urban World, edited by Ray Hutchinson & Jerome Krase. Elsevier/JAI Press.


Krase, Jerome & Timothy Shortell. 2009. “Visualizing Glocalization: Semiotics of Ethnic and Class Differences in Global Cities.” Annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. Baltimore.


Krase, Jerome & Timothy Shortell. 2011. “On the Spatial Semiotics of Vernacular Landscapes in Global Cities.” Visual Communication 10(3): 371-404.


Shortell, Timothy &  Jerome Krase. 2011. “Immigrant Islam: Politics of Representation and the Challenge of Seeing Collective Identity in Global Cities.” 10th conference of the European Sociological Association. Geneva.


Shortell, Timothy & Jerome Krase. 2012. “On the Visual Semiotics of Collective Identity in Urban Vernacular Spaces.” Pp  in Sociology of the Visual Sphere, edited by Regev Nathansohn & Dennis Zuev. Routledge.


Report describes the participation of UK Muslims in governance

31 January 2013


One of the most comprehensive studies to date on UK Muslim-government relations, entitled “Muslim Participation in Contemporary Governance”, describes how British Muslims have been taking part in governance in the three policy fields of equality, diversity and cohesion; faith sector governance; and security. It describes how modes of Muslim representation have developed into a broader ‘democratic constellation’.


The report, published by Centre for the Study and Citizenship at University of Bristol, included an analysis of public policy since 1997, a total of 112 interviews with key policymakers and Muslim civil society actors, and in-depth local case studies of Birmingham, Leicester, and Tower Hamlets, London.


According to the report, Muslims have become increasingly visible in governance recently. This inevitably led to the debates regarding “Muslim identities, alliances, rights, claims-making and the place of Muslims and Islam within the West.” The report highlights that the current visibility of Muslims in British politics is also a result of the increasing activism of Muslims.

click here for full report

Xenophobic paintings in the mosque of La Aljorra

27 June 12
The Muslim community of La Aljorra woke up yesterday with xenophobic paintings in the walls around their old and new mosque, and in other streets with greater visibility around the municipality.
The Islamic community has showed a deep dissatisfaction with what has happened. Their concern is that these racist actions will affect the whole society or will influence the good living enjoyed by the citizens of La Aljorra.

Islam and the West: Plea for Competition between Values

5 November 2010

Our dechristianized West is disturbed – to a greater or lesser degree – by the visibility of practising Muslims. Yet, whoever expects the secular state to treat different worldviews equally should not fear competition between value systems, writes the Islam expert Ludwig Ammann in this essay.

Marine le Pen announces that “Islam must attempt not to shock”

Marine Le Pen, a member of the National Front political party (and daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen), claims that Islam in France is not being stigmatized, as the visibility of the tradition touches French values, way of life and secularism. Le Pen claims that Christian crosses and bells must not be hidden as Christianity is an integral part of French identity. Le Pen also discusses how she understands the linkage between immigration and unemployment, similarities between Geert Wilders and the National Front party, and issues of communautarianism.

Manual on the wearing of religious symbols in public areas

To address the issues surrounding the wearing of religious symbols in public areas, this manual explores how the European Convention on Human Rights relates to the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; identifies key concepts found in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights; and examines the role and responsibilities of both states and citizens.

The author then explores underlying motivations for wearing religious symbols, and the visibility of religions and beliefs in the public sphere. Essential questions policy makers should address with regards to this issue are then posed.

The manual seeks then to apply these principles and approaches to a number of key areas such as state employment, schools and universities, the private sector and the criminal justice system.

Changing Ramadan rituals: American Muslims Shifting Focus From Food to Community

The Washington Post highlights the change in Ramadan rituals and traditions over the course of moving from predominantly Muslim countries to the United States. Particularly since September 11th, 2001, Muslim Americans are using the holy month to engage in activism, organizing community iftars, holding Islam-related film viewings, lectures, and inter-faith events. These changes reflect the differences of being the minority in a majority Christian country, where Ramadan festivities are not made visible by default, but encourage Muslim Americans to actively organize such events. The article follows the cases of several Muslim Americans from various backgrounds, who discuss not the Americanization of Ramadan, but ways in which they have melded the two in their own lives.

Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)