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France's Ahmeds and Muslim others: The entanglement of racism and Islamophobia

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In this article, I use the example of Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim and Algerian-origin police officer who was one of the victims of the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre, as a way to understand how Islamophobia is a form of racism. Based on ethnographic research in Paris and its banlieues with the middle-class segment of the North African second generation, I discuss how they experience ‘collective punishment’ due to their status as both racial and religious minorities. I further trace the use of a ‘Muslim other’ category as a catch-all term for non-White individuals in a society that disavows race and ethnicity. I ultimately demonstrate how Islamophobia is a form of racism – one that sees certain individuals as too culturally different to ever be fully accepted as part of the French mainstream.

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