Marketing Communication assistant professor and cultural anthropologist Carol Ferrara writes for the academic news site The Conversation about the controversy regarding the construction and funding of what will be the largest European mosque in Strasbourg, France.
Citing her research in the field, Ferrara explains that a mix of factors – geopolitical concerns and fears of an Islamic threat, confusion over state funding for religion in France, and how Islam belongs in French secularism – are all contributors to it.
[Islamophobia] sentiment is riding particularly high in the long lead-up to the 2022 elections, in which President Macron may attempt to appeal to anti-immigrant voters to curb the power of the far right.
In such an environment, those looking for Islamist threats seem to find them everywhere. Such fearmongering has seen scholars studying Islam and Islamophobia accused of advancing an Islamo-leftist agenda, the dissolution of the nation’s largest anti-Islamophobia organization, and home-schooling parents blamed for radicalizing Muslim youth.
The controversy surrounding the Strasbourg mosque has obvious geopolitical groundings and clearly fits into dominant political narratives of protecting France’s secular principles. But it also fits into popular Islamophobic rhetoric of an omnipresent Islamist threat – rhetoric that hinders French Muslim citizens from finding community and belonging in France, whether in mosques or elsewhere.