Republic of Islamophobia

The Rise of Respectable Racism in France

February 2018 9781849046886 208pp
EU Customers


Why does Islamophobia dominate public debate in France?

Islamophobia in France is rising, with Muslims subjected to unprecedented scrutiny of what they wear, eat and say. Championed by Marine Le Pen and drawing on the French colonial legacy, France’s ‘new secularism’ gives racism a respectable veneer. Jim Wolfreys exposes the dynamic driving this intolerance: a society polarised by inequality, and the authoritarian neoliberalism of the French political mainstream.

This officially sanctioned Islamophobia risks going unchallenged. It has divided the traditional anti-racist movement and undermined the left’s opposition to bigotry. Wolfreys deftly unravels the problems facing those trying to confront today’s rise in racism.

Republic of Islamophobia illuminates both the uniqueness of France’s anti-Muslim backlash and its broader implications for the West.


‘Wolfreys brilliantly unpacks the political, cultural and economic mechanisms that have rendered French Muslims the ideal scapegoats of an entire nation . . . candid and incisive . . .the present book is by far the most comprehensive work on Islamophobia in contemporary France.’ — LSE Review of Books

‘Effectively analyses the nature and rise of the vindictive Islamophobia that has come to grip French politics and society . . . persuasive.’ — Counterfire

‘Wolfreys’ writing is that of a political insider, underpinned by academic rigour. This book is a wake-up call, warning of the creep of Islamophobia into mainstream French political discourse and its dire consequences if left unchecked. It is vital reading for policy makers and commentators alike.’ — Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, author of The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain

‘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! 

‘An authoritative and lucid account of France’s descent into societal disaster. This excruciating and at times shocking catalogue of political mis-steps strongly suggests a far more dangerous ‘enemy within’ than the Muslim one we constantly hear about. Could the French experience be repeated here in the UK? Wolfreys’ book is a warning to us all.’ — James Fergusson, author of Al-Britannia, My Country: A Journey Through Muslim Britain

‘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


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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