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Secularism, State Policies, and Muslims in Europe

Analyzing French Exceptionalism

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France's policies toward its Muslim population are exceptionally restrictive compared to other western European states. The dominant combative secularist ideology, which aims to eliminate religion from the public sphere, is a major reason for French exceptionalism. Combative secularism is the result of historical ideological conflicts between anticlerical republicans and clerical monarchists and the victory of the former over the latter. Recently, combative secularists allied with opponents of immigrants and Islam to legislate the ban on wearing headscarves in public schools. Pluralistic secularists, who would allow the public visibility of religion, were unable to impede this policy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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