King's Undergraduate Research Journal
French democratic society shows a startling ambivalence: contemporary French politics struggles to reconcile its commitment to the republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity with its entrenched islamophobia. Rhetoric about French Muslims has historically been and continues to be weaponized by French politicians seeking to capitalize on the Muslim electorate or the fears harboured by Franco-French racists. The prevailing media discourse about French Muslims creates a distorted view of them as burdensome, violent and anti-French. This distortion contributed to the rise of Marine Le Pen's far-right Front National, which thrived on a discourse of securitization in opposition to Muslim minorities leading up to the 2017 election. This piece synthesizes accounts of the historical development of islamophobia in France, state and media responses to contemporary terrorist attacks, and the populist islamophobic rhetoric employed by Le Pen while campaigning for the 2017 election in an attempt to connect the trends of right-wing populism and authoritarianism with a disproportionate conflation of violence with Islam by French media.