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Islam, Islamism, communitarianism: what do the French people think?

2 April 2022 News   18815  

Issues related to Islam are at the heart of the presidential campaign. In addition to the growing fears caused by the terrorist threat, since the jihadist attacks of 2015, there has been a widespread awareness of the dangers that can arise from communal and separatist excesses.

1- The French people do not confuse Islam with Islamism

Contrary to the outrages of Éric Zemmour, who has constantly hammered home the point that Islam and Islamism cannot be distinguished, on the pretext that “Islam is Islamism at rest, Islamism is Islam in action”, our survey shows that the majority of French people do not make the amalgam: to the question “in general, what does the Muslim religion inspire in you?”, only 44% of French people evoke concern. On the other hand, when Islamism is described as “a dogmatic vision of Islam according to which religion should not be a personal practice limited to the spiritual aspect, but should regulate all aspects of community life”, 73% say they are worried about the Islamist phenomenon in France.
This absence of amalgam is all the more clear, as out of these 73% of French people worried about the rise of Islamism in their country, 28% declare themselves to be Muslim. Proof, if any were needed, that one can be a Muslim and be opposed to Islamism!
On the other hand, the answers concerning concern or not about the rise of Islamism vary considerably according to political position: only 55% of left-wing voters (whether extreme or moderate left-wing) say they are concerned, compared to 72% in the centre, 89% on the moderate right and 94% on the extreme right.


2- Islamism and communitarianism are now more frightening than the terrorist threat!

For a long time, the Islamist phenomenon was perceived exclusively through the binary prism of violence and non-violence. Those Islamists who claimed to be opposed to armed violence were considered moderates, or even allies in the fight against jihadist terrorism. However, since the attacks of 2015, and even more so since the horrifying beheading of Samuel Paty, an awareness has gradually emerged in French opinion of the dangers of communitarianism and separatism, which are the work of Islamists who claim to be non-violent, and which constitute a breeding ground for jihadist radicalisation.
When asked why Islamism should be fought in France, 76% answered that Islamism is “a source of violence and terrorism”. Another 76% said that Islamism is “a fanaticism that generates communitarianism and separatism”. Furthermore, 74% motivated their opposition to Islamism by the fact that it constitutes “a threat to freedoms and egalitarian principles” and 73% mentioned “an attack on secularism”. However, the attacks on freedoms, egalitarian principles and secularism are more linked to communitarianism and political Islam than to jihadist terrorism.

Another sign of this awareness of the ravages caused by Islamic communitarianism (see page 97) is that only 31% of French people see it as “a banal socio-cultural phenomenon”, while 75% see it as a “separatist way of life hostile to republican authority”; 75% see it as “a source of jihadist radicalism”; and 69% see it as “a breeding ground for trafficking and the parallel economy”.

3- The fight against Islamism as a decisive reason for voting?

The positions and proposals of the different candidates regarding the fight against Islamism will play a major role in the choice of 75% of the voters: 35% say that this issue will play a determining role in their choices during the presidential elections and 40% say that the fight against Islamism will play an “important but not determining” role in their electoral choices. Only 25% say that the issue will play a secondary role.
The proportion of French Muslims who say that the fight against Islamism plays an important role in determining their electoral choices is lower than the national average. However, it is sufficiently important to be noted and welcomed: 24% will determine the choice of the candidate for whom they will vote according to his or her commitment to the fight against Islamism. And 31% say that this question will have “an important but not determining role” in their choice.
Islamo-leftism, which contaminates a large part of the French left, causes a glaring paradox: the percentage of left-wing voters who will determine their electoral choices according to the positions taken by the candidates on the issue of the fight against Islamism is lower than among Muslims themselves! They are 23% among voters of the radical left and only 13% among those of the moderate left.
As for the proportion of right-wing voters who will determine their votes according to the fight against Islamism, they are 21% in the centre, 33% on the moderate right and 65% on the extreme right.

4- 85% of French people call on the future president to ban the Muslim Brotherhood
To fight against Islamism, 85% of French people support the proposal, put forward by several presidential candidates, aimed at “prohibiting Islamist organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and all the movement linked to it”.
This ban is also mentioned in the context of the fight against Islamist communitarianism and separatism: 68% of voters call on the future President to “ban organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafism and the Tabligh movement”. In addition, 61% call for “dissolving cultural, sports or religious associations refusing to comply with secular and egalitarian values”, while 89% submit the proposal made during the presidential campaign to “cut subsidies to associations present a community, racialist, sexist or regional separatist vision”. And 12% respondents to “penalize exclusively community businesses”, while 28% consider that the fight against communitarianism and separatism should rather go through a “city policy promoting social diversity”.

5- What are the most supported proposals to fight against Islamism?

A majority of French people consider that, in the current presidential campaign, political figures talk too often about issues related to Islam. But, who are the most credible candidates? And which proposals meet with the most support concerning Islam, fight against Islamism and – more generally – the relationship between the State and religions in France?