Conflict, Institutional Change, and Development in the Era of Globalization
Edited by Joachim Ahrens, Rolf Caspers and Janina Weingarth
Chapter 3: France and the Islamic World: Exterior and Interior Aspects of an Exceptional Relationship
Gisela Miiller-Brandeck-Bocquet 1. INTRODUCTION Without any doubt, France is the most pro-Arab country in Europe. France not only sustains close relations to a great number of Islamic states and enjoys huge respect from this part of the world, but also harbors the largest Muslim population of all European countries. With respect to the growing tensions between the Western and the Islamic states since a couple of years ago, it seems a sound idea to have a closer look at France and its exceptional relationship with the Islamic world if one is to investigate and develop new ways towards a peaceful and fruitful future between Islam and the West. Due to its close relationship with numerous Muslim countries, France has since the early 1980s become familiar with the terrible threat that Islamic fundamentalism represents. This threat is twofold: on the one hand, for now more than two decades Islamism has been trying to overthrow the regimes in power within the Muslim world in order to install theocratic political structures that narrowly follow the instructions of the Koran. With the exception of Iran this strategy has not succeeded anywhere, although Algeria for example was tormented by this Islamistic challenge for years, undergoing a veritable civil war resulting in tens of thousands of innocent victims. On the other hand, Islamism is threatening Western countries with terror attacks; France was one of its fIrst targets in 1986 and again in 1995. Moreover, since the early 1990s, Islamism has swept from Northern Africa to France,...
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