Interfaith Dialogue and Faith-Based Social Activism in a State of Emergency: laïcité and the Crisis of Religion in France
International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society
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Everett, S. (2018). Interfaith Dialogue and Faith-Based Social Activism in a State of Emergency: laïcité and the Crisis of Religion in France. International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-018-9291-0
A significant body of literature demonstrates that the discourse of laïcité has become steadily more politicised in recent years (Gidley and Renton 2017; Hajjat and Mohammed, 2016). A series of value-laden discursive constructs have come to be coupled with the normative rulings of secularism (Kahn 2007). This has led to an omerta around Islamophobia in the French political sphere. Based on 20 months (October 2015–May 2017) of ethnographic research in the tense context of Parisian civil society due to austerity and insecurity, this paper shows how interfaith initiatives and faith-based social action figure into a new landscape of state-enforced values under a state of emergency, where one religion in particular is under scrutiny. The first argument is that while interfaith education and outreach are dialogical vectors for combating discrimination, they are constrained by the discourse of laïcité and the implicit targeting of Muslims in the state of emergency (état d’urgence). Seldom explicit, the approach to dialogue between religions of many of these interfaith associations--voluntary organisations--lack a critique of laïcité and its epistemological correlation to anti-clericalism. By contrast, faith-based social action, and its inevitable multi-faith encounter, generates more personal understandings about discrimination. Therefore the second argument, is that it is through social action that the recognition of religious identity as a factor acting in favour of a shared secular-religious common good can come about.
France, religion, laïcité, organisations, social cohesion, trust
With thanks to the Woolf Institute.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-018-9291-0
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/283650