French Identity, Muslim Identity- Universalism, Laïcité, and the Islamic Challenge

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    French Identity, Muslim Identity: Universalism,  Laïcité , and the Islamic Challenge Jennifer Webster A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Political Science. Chapel Hill 2007 Approved by: Donald Searing John Stephens Milada Vachudova  UMI Number: 144735614473562008UMI MicroformCopyright All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb RoadP.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company.   ii Abstract Jennifer Webster French Identity, Muslim Identity: Universalism,  Laïcité , and the Islamic Challenge (Under the direction of Donald Searing, John Stephens, and Milada Vachudova) Europe is currently embroiled in a debate over the challenges Muslim immigration poses to national identity and cultural cohesion. As nations seek the best way to accommodate the values of the mainstream while respecting the rights and beliefs of Muslim minorities, they must make decisions about what tolerance really means, and the extent to which it requires secularism. The uniquely French value of laïcité , created from universalist ideals as a French solution to what was srcinally a French problem, is not incompatible with strong religious identity, but it is incompatible with the public expression of faith—an expression that many Muslims believe Islam requires. This essay will explore the reasons why the concept of French identity as universal and secular challenges France’s Muslim minority (and vice versa) and why the application of laïcité  within a universalist framework is still the best way to foster the creation of a truly French Islam.   iii Table of Contents The Continental Context: In Search of a European Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1Multiculturalism or Assimilation: Different Approaches to Integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4The French Ideal: Universalism and  Laïcité  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6The French Reality:  Nous et les Autres  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11The Battle for the  Banlieues : Economics and  Intégrisme  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16  L’Affaire du Foulard  : Women and the Burden of Multiculturalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..22  Islam en France, Islam de France : French Muslims and the Evolution of Identity . . . . . . . . . . .27References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
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