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As French as Anyone Else: Islam and the North African Second Generation in France

Abstract

Amid growing Islamophobia throughout Europe, Muslims in France have been described as “ethnoracial outsiders” (Bleich 2006, 3–7) and framed as a cultural challenge to the identity of the French republic. Based on ethnographic research of 45 middle class adult children of North African, or Maghrébin, immigrants, I focus on the actual religious practices of this segment of the French Muslim population, the symbolic boundaries around those practices, and the relationship between how middle class, North African second-generation immigrants understand their marginalization within mainstream society and how they frame their religiosity to respond to this marginalization. How respondents frame their practices reveals their allegiance with the tenets of French Republicanism and laïcité as well as shows how Muslim religious practices are being accommodated to the French context. This religiosity is not a barrier to asserting a French identity. Individuals frame their religious practices in ways that suggest they see themselves as just as French as anyone else.

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