Republic of Islamophobia

The Rise of Respectable Racism in France

Jim Wolfreys

Islamophobia is not specific to France but nowhere does it dominate public debate in the same way.  This book offers a sharp, accessible examination of the reasons why.

Bibliographic Details
Republic of Islamophobia Paperback
February 2018£15.99

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Islamophobia in France is on the increase. Muslims are being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny of what they wear, eat and say. Racist acts and rhetoric are increasingly common. Leading public figures, meanwhile, continue to contest the use of the term ‘Islamophobia’.

Republic of Islamophobia argues that such intolerance has fed off the adoption of an authoritarian neoliberal outlook by mainstream French political parties, a process that has accelerated since the terrorist attacks in Paris in January and November 2015. Jim Wolfreys describes the development of a ‘new secularism’ that targets Muslims and gives a respectable veneer to racism. He examines how this secularism has been championed by the Front National’s Marine Le Pen, and how it has divided the anti-racist movement and undermined the left’s capacity to contest bigotry. Techniques from France’s colonial era, he argues, are being adapted to stigmatise Muslims.

Drawing on interviews conducted in Paris in 2015-16, Wolfreys highlights the work of independent grassroots campaigns and activists organising to confront racism. Informed by their experience, he aims to provide tools for those confronting the wider backlash against Muslims that is embedding itself in Europe and the US.


Jim Wolfreys lectures in French and European politics at King’s College London. He is co-author (with Peter Fysh) of The Politics of Racism in France.

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‘A powerful tale of France’s Islamophobic spiral. Rich in detail and with a keen ear for the ironies of moral panics around veiling, violence, and values, Wolfreys shows France’s importance in this globally emerging phenomenon. A compelling argument for the links between political Islamophobia, neoliberalism, and the failures of the left.’ — Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming! 

‘A sharp-eyed, merciless and up-to-the-minute analysis of France’s current travails, which are also Britain’s’. — Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford, and author of Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance