Despite a recent recog­ni­tion of Islam­o­pho­bia as a social issue and a cer­tain inter­est for Mus­lim voic­es in
some media spheres, main­stream media cov­er­age of Islam­o­pho­bia and Mus­lims is still stig­ma­tis­ing. Mus­lim women are often depict­ed as stereo­typ­i­cal fig­ures such as the sub­mis­sive woman or the Islamist

France has the largest Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty in Europe. While there were 44 mil­lion Euro­pean Mus­lims in 2010 rep­re­sent­ing 6% of Euro­pean’s total pop­u­la­tion, the French Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty account­ed for 8% of the total pop­u­la­tion in france, or about 2.1 mil­lion peo­ple aged 18 to 50.

Esti­ma­tions place the fig­ure between 3.9 and 4.1 mil­lion Mus­lims in France with chil­dren and elder­ly includ­ed.  Mus­lims form the sec­ond largest reli­gious group in France after Chris­tians.

In the polit­i­cal realm, the exis­tence of Islam­o­pho­bia is denied by a large num­ber of polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives
who con­tribute to the triv­i­al­i­sa­tion and nor­mal­i­sa­tion of Islam­o­pho­bic dis­course.

French pub­lic opin­ion on Mus­lims and espe­cial­ly on Mus­lim women is wor­ri­some. Accord­ing to some
opin­ion polls, the French Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty is the least tol­er­at­ed pop­u­la­tion, with 53% of pos­i­tive
respons­es (com­pared to 79.5% for the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty)  and only 26% of the French pop­u­la­tion hav­ing a pos­i­tive image of Islam.

From a gen­der per­spec­tive, Mus­lim women are very neg­a­tive­ly per­ceived: 79%
and 93% of the French pop­u­la­tion con­sid­er that wear­ing Islam­ic reli­gious sym­bols, such as the head­scarf
and full-face veil, con­sti­tutes a bar­ri­er to “co-exis­tence” (“vivre-ensem­ble”)

In 2014, the CCIF record­ed 764 Islam­o­pho­bic acts, which is 10.6% more com­pared to 2013.8 On the
con­trary, the Nation­al Obser­va­to­ry against Islam­o­pho­bia (Obser­va­toire nation­al con­tre l’islamophobie)
reg­is­tered a 41.1% decrease in of anti-Mus­lim acts between 2013 and 2014.

This dif­fer­ence can be explained by the method­ol­o­gy used by the two organ­i­sa­tions. The Observatory’s data are based on those of the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or and only take into account the num­ber of com­plaints con­cern­ing anti-Mus­lim actions and threats.

CCIF’s data also include the num­ber of com­plaints and add cas­es of Islam­o­pho­bia
report­ed to the organ­i­sa­tion or released in the media. In its annu­al report for 2014, the Obser­va­to­ry admits
that the 2014 data “did not reflect real­i­ty as most Mus­lim vic­tims do not report their cas­es to the police
nor do they file a complaint”.10 Since the Paris attacks in Jan­u­ary 2015, the Obser­va­to­ry changed its
method­ol­o­gy and now includes data sent by the mosques’ net­work of the French Coun­cil of Mus­lim
Wor­ship (Con­seil Français du Culte Musul­man, or CFCM,).

How­ev­er, Islam­o­pho­bic acts of have explod­ed over the last five years. 2015 fore­shad­ows an unprece­dent­ed
increase. In the after­math of the Jan­u­ary 2015 ter­ror­ist attacks, more Islam­o­pho­bic acts were reg­is­tered in
one month than in a whole year (128 acts between 7 and 20 Jan­u­ary 2015).11
Data on Islam­o­pho­bia in France high­light a two-fold issue:

  • Islam­o­pho­bia is a pre­dom­i­nant­ly insti­tu­tion­alised form of dis­crim­i­na­tion. In 2014, 71.6% of
    Islam­o­pho­bic acts were per­pe­trat­ed by French insti­tu­tions as opposed to pri­vate insti­tu­tions or
    indi­vid­u­als. One quar­ter of the total Islam­o­pho­bic acts occurred in the field of edu­ca­tion (pri­ma­ry
    and sec­ondary pub­lic schools).12
  • Islam­o­pho­bia tends to be a form of sex­ism that com­bines gen­der and reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion. In
    2014, 81.5% of Islam­o­pho­bic acts and speech tar­get­ed women. Mus­lim women, and espe­cial­ly
    Mus­lim veiled women (what­ev­er the type of veil) because of their great vis­i­bil­i­ty, account for
    almost 100% of vic­tims of phys­i­cal aggres­sions.


What does it take to survive as a Muslim in France?

Forgotten Women

Being a Mus­lim woman in France means being con­front­ed with Islam­o­pho­bic vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion
at every stage of life: at school, dur­ing edu­ca­tion­al and pro­fes­sion­al train­ing, for admin­is­tra­tive
pro­ce­dures, at doc­tors’ offices, on the streets, in restau­rants, at banks, at pub­lic swim­ming pools, etc.
In the employ­ment field, dis­crim­i­na­tion occurs in voca­tion­al train­ing, in access to employ­ment, and in the
work­place as well

Employment field

In the French labour mar­ket, two com­mon trends can be observed: women are in a more vul­ner­a­ble
posi­tion than men, and, the major­i­ty pop­u­la­tion is more priv­i­leged than minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions (be it
for­eign­ers, immi­grants and sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion immi­grants

As far as Mus­lim women’s sit­u­a­tion in the French labour mar­ket is con­cerned, sim­i­lar trends can be
noticed, reveal­ing two types of gaps, on the grounds of gen­der and eth­nic­i­ty:

  • The gen­der gap: native women are less employed and equal­ly affect­ed by unem­ploy­ment than
    male for­eign­ers (from all ori­gins). This dif­fer­ence is con­firmed and even more pro­nounced among
    for­eign women (from all ori­gins): women from all ori­gins are dis­ad­van­taged com­pared to men
    (native or not) but also to non-immi­grant women.14
  • The eth­nic gap: employ­ment rates of immi­grant women from Turkey, Alge­ria, Moroc­co, Tunisia
    and Sub-Saha­ran Africa (who are most­ly Mus­lims) are infe­ri­or to employ­ment rates of immi­grant
    women from South­ern Europe or the rest of the EU.

Accord­ing to CCIF data, in 2014, 99 cas­es of reli­gious dis­crim­i­na­tion were record­ed in the fields of high­er
edu­ca­tion and voca­tion­al train­ing (13% of the total acts of discrimination).16 In 2013, 18.6% of
Islam­o­pho­bic acts occurred in the employ­ment field. 7.35% of the dis­crim­i­na­tion cas­es took place in the
work­place and 11.25% of them were per­pe­trat­ed by pri­vate com­pa­nies, main­ly in access to employ­ment.

Among CCIF’s report­ed cas­es, a large major­i­ty of vic­tims of dis­crim­i­na­tion in employ­ment are Mus­lim
women, espe­cial­ly veiled women. Their head­scarves often prove to be a bar­ri­er in access­ing employ­ment.
CV test­ings reveal three dif­fer­ent trends as far as dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lim women is at stake:

  • The “inter­sec­tion­al effect”: The inter­sec­tion­al effect results in the cre­ation of mul­ti­ple
    dis­crim­i­na­tion; gen­der and ori­gin do not sim­ply add upg. The crossed effects of gen­der and ori­gin
    cre­ate a dou­ble glass-ceil­ing effect for women of African descent. Dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of
    gen­der and ori­gin combines.18
  • The “Mus­lim effect”: With­in the same gen­der and eth­nic inter­sec­tion­al cat­e­gories, it is pos­si­ble to
    detect a “Mus­lim effect”. The can­di­date per­ceived as Chris­t­ian received 2.5 times more pos­i­tive
    respons­es to her appli­ca­tion than the can­di­date per­ceived as Mus­lim.
  • The “head­scarf effect”: With­in the same gen­der, eth­nic and reli­gious inter­sec­tion­al cat­e­gories,
    wear­ing an Islam­ic reli­gious sym­bol such as a head­scarf reduces the chances of get­ting an inter­view
    close to zero


Islamophobic Violence and Speech

As far as Islam­o­pho­bic vio­lence and speech are con­cerned, the CCIF record­ed 103 cas­es of Islam­o­pho­bic
dis­course, 28 cas­es of ver­bal aggres­sions and 22 cas­es of phys­i­cal aggres­sions in 2014. The Paris attacks of
Jan­u­ary 2015 had a dra­mat­ic impact on Mus­lim women.

Report­ed cas­es of Islam­o­pho­bic vio­lence and­speech increased expo­nen­tial­ly dur­ing the first quar­ter of 2015. CCIF mon­i­tor­ing reg­is­tered more vio­lence and insults with­in six months than in a whole year.

Between Jan­u­ary and June 2015, phys­i­cal and ver­bal aggres­sions respec­tive­ly showed a 500% and 100% increase com­pared to the same peri­od in 2014. Cas­es of Islam­o­pho­bic dis­course, 30 ver­bal aggres­sions and 32 phys­i­cal aggres­sions were report­ed to the CCIF. Most vic­tims are Mus­lim women, veiled women par­tic­u­lar­ly.

Mus­lim women are there­fore vic­tims of mul­ti­ple dis­crim­i­na­tion on the grounds of gen­der, reli­gion and

Wear­ing a head­scarf clear­ly con­sti­tutes an addi­tion­al bar­ri­er when it comes to enter­ing the
French labour mar­ket or fac­ing ver­bal and phys­i­cal vio­lence.

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