Reforming Laïcité or Reforming Islam?

Secularism, Islam, and the Regulation of Religion in France

In: Journal of Law, Religion and State
Berna Zengin Arslan Ozyegin University, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey,

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Bige Açimuz Ozyegin University, Faculty of Law, Istanbul, Turkey,

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This paper focuses on management of Islam by the French State since the state of emergency declared in 2015. We analyze the legal actions of the State using a law-in-context approach and theorize secularism as the State’s management of religion. We focus on the Senate Report (2016) concerning Muslim worship, the legal changes wrought by the state of emergency, and the institutions formed to govern Islam and secularism. We examine whether there has been a change in the French State’s approach to Muslim worship. Rather than remaining neutral, the French State has become even more actively involved in the field of religion by adopting a reformist attitude intended to transform not the principles of laïcité but the Muslims in France. In this period, the State has taken concrete steps and built institutions both to support the formation of a secularized French Islam and to govern the boundaries of laïcité.

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