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Muslims, Alt-Right, Populism, Secular State, Islam, Politics, Citizen Recognition, France
Any attempt to explore the relationship between representations of Muslims and public advocacy in modern Western societies must situate both processes in relation to the broader crises of liberal citizenship currently afflicting Western democracies. Calls heard in the 1990s for multicultural citizenship and pluralist “recognition” have given way to demands for the exclusion of new immigrants and the coercive assimilation of those—especially Muslims—long since arrived. This essay examines French Catholic and Muslim perspectives on secularism and citizenship in contemporary France. It highlights disagreements among progressive secularists as well as mainline Catholics and Muslims over how to engage the secular state as well as one’s fellow citizens. The examples show that contemporary public spheres look less like deliberative public spaces than complex landscapes shaped by mass movements, social media, and political entrepreneurs. These realities present serious challenges to those who hope to use education and dialogue in public advocacy with and for Muslim citizens.