Containing Muslims

Europe’s lower-strata working-class Muslims and the weaponisation of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Cihan Özpinar

With the elevation of Islamophobia to an alarming degree in Europe and beyond, and the pressing problems of Muslim immigrants and second- and subsequent-generation descendants of immigrants coming to occupy a central subject of debate, critical scholars of racism have drawn politically-relevant parallelisms between the historical ‘Jewish question’ and today’s ‘Muslim question’. On the one hand, some Marxists rose to the challenge of rereading Marx’s 1843 polemic Zur Judenfrage in the contemporary context, while drawing strategic implications for the pressing issues of today’s political and social crisis around Muslims.[1] On the other hand, such parallelisms entailed emphases on the similarities, or enabled comparisons, between antisemitism, as the discursive background of the Jewish question, and Islamophobia, as that of the Muslim question.[2] Other parallels were drawn between the successive shifts of the racialised populations, from the Eastern European Jews to the Muslims, who immigrated to countries such as France, formed the lower strata of the working class, and became subject to derogatory labels such as the métèque.[3] Scholars working in both Marxist and progressive traditions formulated, in different ways, the idea that modern nation-state, with its rigorous secularist and universalist claims (particularly in the French case), is generating the mechanisms for the discrimination and misrecognition of its ethnic or religious minorities. These minorities are increasingly racialised and gendered, as in the case of Muslim women’s veiling practices, vis-à-vis a supposedly integrated, culturally harmonious, if not homogenous, majority.[4] Moreover, there are important and dangerous parallels between the Jewish question and the Muslim question in the form of a wide range of conspiracy theories that are embedded in the Islamophobic discourse – just as those that could be found in the antisemitic discourse.[5] Resonating some of the conspiratorial elements of the ‘redemptive antisemitism’ that laid the ideological basis of Nazism,[6] today’s Islamophobic discourse relies on such scaremongering theories as ‘Eurabia’ and ‘great replacement’, and it is obsessed with the ‘demographic change’ that is taking place in the heart of the Western civilisation.[7]            

However, in order to avoid the pitfalls of quick analogies between the Jewish question and the Muslim question, one needs to take seriously the cautious standpoint of Enzo Traverso on the historical particularities of these two questions.[8] Instead, what I would like to do in this article is to analyse antisemitism and Islamophobia – the ideological backgrounds and discursive tools beneath these two questions – on new grounds, by focusing on how they are weaponised, and what effects such weaponisation produces, with a special emphasis on France. The framework of this article is bound to the following argument I advance: (i) the weaponisation of each discourse, itself understood as a discursive strategy, directly concerns Muslim immigrants and descendants of immigrants in the European, and particularly in the French, context; and(ii) the consequences of such discursive strategies, within a given structural framework, are articulated in what would be called the containment of the lower-strata working-class Muslims in Europe.


This piece is being made available as a preprint edition of the double-volume Marxism and the Critique of Antisemitism special issue of Historical Materialism. Further additions will still be made before then. The final published version of this text will be made available on the Brill website in the coming months. We ask that citations refer to the Brill edition.All Illustrations are by Natalia Podpora.


The argument

The weaponisation of antisemitism (see Section 1) and the weaponisation of Islamophobia (a counter-discourse that responds to Islamophobia, a racist discourse that bears racialising effects on Muslims – see Section 3) are two discursive strategies that follow two different logics and, accordingly, adopt two different discursive tactics (see Figure 1). The logic of the former discursive strategy amounts to upholding that a new form of antisemitism is endemic among Muslim communities, especially the youth, in Europe and beyond; it propagates that the anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist sentiments among them allegedly bear antisemitic elements. In order to legitimise imperialist policies in the neoliberal age, this strategy goes on to delineate between good and bad Muslims, and therefore de-essentialises them, while marginalising and isolating the lower-strata working-class Muslims – along with the anti-imperialist Left – by primarily identifying them with antisemitic tendencies. The logic of the latter discursive strategy amounts to upholding that the racialisation of Muslims in Europe through the racist discourse of Islamophobia, which requires a stronger unity of Muslims in organisation and collective action. For that aim, this strategyre-essentialises Muslims in order to give way to a Muslim identity-formation that is abstracted from the material differentiations within Muslim communities. The consequence is the blockage of channels for the lower-strata working-class Muslims’ from-below, democratic organising and the elite capture of politics.

Figure 1. Operational framework for the weaponisation of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Discursive strategy

Discursive tactic

Mode of containment

Weaponisation of antisemitism


De-essentialisation: good vs. bad Muslims


Isolation of lower-strata working-class Muslims


Weaponisation of Islamophobia



class-indifferent Muslim identity

Elite capture of politics


However, the operational framework of the two discursive strategies is not self-sustaining. The many actors at work behind these strategies and the strategies themselves operate within a larger framework that involves political, economic and institutional structures stemming from social-property relations. As far as the agencies are concerned, each discourse is enabled, and their effects are realised within the restraints of these structures that pertain to the workings of a historically-specific phase of capitalism. In the weaponisation of antisemitism (see the sub-section of Section 1 below), the agency is carried by neoliberalism-embracing intellectuals who reflect the specifically neoliberal sketches of imperialism inscribed in the unilateralism of the US and its allies. These sketches are determined by the specific interests of certain fractions of the capitalist class in the US and elsewhere that are vested in militarism and global racism. Their implications correspond to the selectiveness of the European states vis-à-vis their Muslim communities under a neoliberal capitalism that is marked by political and economic structural changes. These changes include the retreat of the activist state and the long downturn in advanced capitalist economies.[9] In this schema, the discursive strategy carried by neoliberalism-embracing intellectuals – the weaponisation of antisemitism – bears legitimising effects on the existing neoliberal framework and enables such state policies as the equation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. This in turn leads to, or intensifies, the isolation of the sections of the Muslim population in Europe who are opposed to imperialism and neoliberalism, along with the Left.

In the weaponisation of Islamophobia (see Section 4), agency is carried by multiple actors – including organisations and associations. Their discursive inputs for consolidating and fostering Muslims’ self-identification in religious, ethnic, and national terms (and stripped away from working-class identity) interact with the organisational and collective-action forms that encompass European Muslims (see Section 3). In this schema, Muslim identity-formation based on non-class identities – that the Muslims make sense of their social beings and the reality surrounding them in non-class terms – is not the result of such ideological persuasions. It is in fact the outcome of how these ideological persuasions are embedded within the existing structures that dominate Muslims’ social, cultural and political lives.[10] Such class-indifferent identity-formation and collective action in turn enables the tendential dynamics of elite capture due to the elite-controlled designs of the Muslim organisations and collective action.  Moreover, this hinders the reach of the power of the more democratic, from-below, grassroots organisations due to their lack of interest in building a working-class identity peculiar to Europe’s lower-strata working-class Muslims (see Section 4). The aggregate outcome of these two discursive strategies – isolation and elite capture – can therefore be understood as the ‘containment’ of lower-strata working-class Muslims’ potential to engage in democratic mass politics organised based on a working-class identity that is not colour-blind (see Conclusion).

In what follows, I will first provide the context for the theory of the ‘new’ antisemitism and its ramifications for European Muslims, particularly the youth. This is followed by a discussion on the theoretical, organisational, and strategic problems entailed by the weaponisation of ‘new’ antisemitism against Muslims. In Section 2, I will situate Islamophobia as a racist discourse and a form of social relation within the contemporary context. Emphasising the central role of the material structures in identity-formation processes, I will then go on to offer a tentative model of European Muslims’ organisational and collective-action forms with a particular focus on France in Section 3. In Section 4, I will discuss whether the counter-discourse of Islamophobia – its weaponisation – could be understood in terms of ‘elite capture’. Finally, I will conclude by describing the common effects of the both discourses in terms of a politics of containment that is effective on the lower-strata working-class Muslims.

The ‘new’ antisemitism and European Muslims

Muslims’ association with terror by right-wing media and neoliberalism-embracing intellectuals, and state measures taken against Muslim minorities in the West, have been accentuated with the declaration of the war on terror in early 2000s. This association went hand in hand with accusations towards Muslims, and especially Muslim youth, of an inherent antisemitism, allegedly displayed in their attitudes towards Jews in the West, and the Israeli state. France has been perhaps the most significant battleground for the neoliberalism-embracing public intellectuals’ attacks on younger generations with North African backgrounds, with charges of a ‘new’ antisemitism that is now reaching an alarming degree.[11] It is in this context that ‘the weaponisation of antisemitism’ has been effectively launched as a discursive strategy targeting both left-wing activism that protested Western aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Israeli aggression in Palestine, as well as Europe’s mostly younger-generation Muslims who identified themselves with the victims of these military operations in the greater Middle East. In the first half of the 2000s, different figures who adopted a neoliberal discourse fostered by the war on terror advanced the following arguments: a ‘new’ antisemitism was present especially in the French banlieues and among their young second-generation immigrants; with this new antisemitism, the security of French Jews was increasingly at risk; and this new antisemitism lay at the core of the anti-Israeli sentiments espoused by a new generation of Muslims in France and the Middle East.[12]

According to this logic, anti-Zionism, in the context of the Second Intifada and Israeli aggression, was nothing but a surrogate of this new antisemitism. Therefore, the criticism of Israel and the Zionist project had to be marginalised and criminalised. The discursive strategy developed out of this logic attempts to establish an equation between antisemitism and anti-Zionism through the critique of the Israeli state, which is defined as the outpost of Western civilisation and democracy in the middle of Middle Eastern autocracies. Combined with American unilateralism – particularly under the George W. Bush administration that adopted a similar civilisational discourse and launched a self-fashioned liberal-democracy crusade into the Middle East – the critique of Israel and US-led Western interventionism became synonymous with hostility to democracy in the wider neoliberalism-embracing intellectual milieus.[13] Moreover, Muslims in the West and elsewhere, as well as the now ‘outmoded’, ‘Third-Worldist’ left-wing critics of anti-imperialism, came to be designated what Liz Fekete has called ‘a suitable enemy’.[14]

Despite the common threads in the forms of Islamophobia and racialisation of Muslims, the discursive strategy behind Judeophilia and the designation of the concept of new antisemitism – the weaponisation of antisemitism – is, in relation to Europe’s Muslim population, qualitatively different from the far-right discourse that came to dominate and mobilise right-wing populisms in Europe in the second half of the 2010s. One important feature of the former should be acknowledged here. The weaponisation of antisemitism makes the strategic distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims, best formulated in the moderate vs. radical Islam classification, by producing discourses that follow along the lines: ‘not all Muslims are terrorists’, ‘not all Muslims are anti-democratic’ or ‘not all Muslims are anti-Western or anti-Israeli or anti-US’; and by appealing to the generic dictums such as Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, etc.[15] This discursive tool enabled the US and its allies during the invasion of Iraq to further strengthen their alliances with such states as Turkey – a model for the Middle East’s decaying autocracies.[16] Thus, at the global level, the then-US president George W. Bush stated that ‘[t]he face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.’[17] Moreover, it was also a useful tool that worked for the Muslim population in Europe and the West – useful like a carrot for those willing to comply with the order of things, and like a stick for those unwilling. Thus, at the French national level, Alain Finkielkraut, one of the most hawkish supporters of the war on terror, cautioned that ‘But pay attention: this “us” is not only “us, the French”, “us, the Europeans”, not even “us, the Westerners”. This has to encompass equally the traditionalist moderate Muslims, the secular Muslims, the emancipated Muslim women, or those who aspire to be, as well as the Christians living on the Muslim soil.’[18]

Theoretical, strategic, and organisational questions

Within the workings of the theory of new antisemitism, there appear three major issues concerning theory, left-wing strategy and organisation. First is the question of agency. There is an intricate relation between ideology – the adoption of discursive strategies such as the weaponisation of antisemitism – and European states’ policy choices – assuming roles in the military incursions and containing contestation against these roles by adopting legal measures and policing. But what causal mechanisms lie behind this relation? A certain Marxist analysis of this neoliberalism-embedded new antisemitism theory puts a strong, and crucially important, emphasis on the agency of states in terms of their role in promoting the Jewish diaspora’s identity-formation and Jewish self-identification with the Israeli state.[19] Given the recent legal actions that equated antisemitism and anti-Zionism in France and the stretching of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism towards anti-Zionism in coordination with states, there is indeed an important state agency reflected in the implementation of such formulations and the socio-political impacts on those opposing them. This emphasis, however, seems to be dislocating the strategic locus of the mechanisms beneath the state-sponsored assaults on the Left and minorities by conflating the implementation of the premises of the ideological discourse on new antisemitism with the structural effects that created the conditions for such formulations in the first place.

My contention is that, to solve this puzzle, the emphasis should be shifted to the agency of the non-state actors (most notably, the neoliberalism-embedded discursive strategies undertaken by neoliberal intellectuals), whose ideological interventions bear legitimising effects on the policies and actions of states. In other words, the ideology beneath the theory of new antisemitism plays a mediating role between the two following factors: (i) fractions of the propertied classes whose vested interests lie heavily in military campaigns and global racism which give rise to American unilateralism in the first place, but also lead to other states bandwagoning with the latter;[20] (ii) individual capitalist states’ adoption of the racialising legal and political actions regarding their minorities – such as Muslims but also other communities of colour – and the contending Left. This ideology is structured in the wider context of a hegemonic neoliberalism to which its ideologues – the neoliberalism-embracing intellectuals – tune in their discursive strategies. The effects of this ideology, in turn, are realised in a way that legitimises actions of the states that take such political and legal measures – often conforming, and consolidating, their already embedded structural selectiveness, which is shaped on the bases of class composition and class struggle   encompassing their minorities and the Left.

The second major issue concerns the question of whether the theory and discourse of new antisemitism holds for realities on the ground that can be observed amongst both Muslim communities – especially the youth – and the Left in Europe. Is there any truth to the claims of a new antisemitism within these groups, or are they altogether fabricated? This question goes beyond the well-attested fact that the discourse of new antisemitism is indeed being used as a weapon directed particularly at Muslim youth and the Left, conforming to much of European states’ selectiveness-bias; its significance, as dangerous as it is, is somewhat exaggerated to the extent of scaremongering. In response to the question, some of the polemical work addressing the theory of new antisemitism tends to neglect any sort of antisemitism to be found among both Muslim communities and the Left.[21]Anthropological scholarship in the field confirms European Muslims’ self-identification with Palestinians and against Israel, and situates their anti-Jewish sentiments within that particular framework. It nevertheless does not neglect the prevalence of antisemitic elements among them, though correctly gives to it a significance proportionate to the reality.[22]

On the flip side, there lies the weaponisation of (new) antisemitism against the Left, particularly in the UK, during the period of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in the Labour Party (and in France with the right-wing discourse, also adopted by the neoliberal Macronists, which has prevailed in terms such as islamogauchisme). These assaults clearly bear the strategic implications of destabilising a revitalised Left that has begun truly contending neoliberalism. The question nonetheless remained of crucial importance: Does antisemitism exist within the ranks of the Left and Muslim communities who oppose the war on terror, and, if so, how to address it without risking the important task of criticising and opposing Western imperialism, Zionist colonialism, and the ongoing settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinemanu militari?

Such questions, and the explanations to tackle the issues raised by them, have led to stimulating exchanges of ideas within the Left today. On the one hand, the emphasis is placed on the actual persons ranking in left-wing organisations whose worldviews can easily fall prey to the traps of old antisemitic narratives while staunchly embracing anti-imperialist positions; on the other hand, the agency of the state that marginalises and helps liquidate the radical, non–colour blind Left is underlined.[23] In these exchanges, however, the complicated nexus of class–ideology–state seems to remain unaddressed. Different than the first major issue outlined above, here the nexus appears to be operating in the following mode: the lower strata of European working classes embodying much of immigrants and descendants of immigrants of Muslim backgrounds live through severe conditions of socio-economic insecurity, political misrepresentation and cultural misrecognition, which are in turn conditioned by European states’ structural selectiveness in an age of the global retreat of the ‘activist state’ and a ‘long downturn’ in the advanced capitalist economies. Under such conditions, the precarious position of these lower strata, increasingly subject to racialisation, paves the way for them to make sense of their social being based on their ethnic or religious identities and community bonds regulated through the organisations and networks that encompass Muslims. This further facilitates their self-identification with the oppressed people across the world, in particular with those whose associated identities, often expressed in political forms, match with theirs – as in the case of Palestinians. As the self-identification with the oppressed is realised in terms of ethnic or religious terms, the ethnic or religious identity of the oppressor – Jewishness of the Israeli state – becomes a substitute for the self-identifiers’ oppressor.[24] Moreover, this process of making sense of the oppressed of their social being may, though not necessarily, incorporate, with a sense of helplessness, the old anti-Jewish narrative that the super-powerful Jews, backed by superpower states, are waging a Judeo-Christian war – culturally, militarily or otherwise – on the oppressed Muslims worldwide and trans-historically.

This brings me to the third major issue. All this is not to claim that antisemitism, old or new, is endemic among the lower-strata working class Muslims and the non–colour blind Left. If there is any truth that antisemitism (or some of its components that stem from a one-sided interpretation of complex power relations) exists among the contenders of neoliberalism and the imperium, both among the Left and the lower-strata working-class Muslims, there arises a strategically-relevant question with implications for political education that needs to be taken seriously. My contention is that anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist positions make sense when imperialism and such settler-colonial practices as those taking place in Palestine are not only firmly, and necessarily, rooted in the logic of capital and the class relations it entails,[25] but also when their critique is related to the prospect that intends to abolish this logic and move towards human emancipation.

Short-sighted and one-sided positions of anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-colonialism are not only theoretically misleading, but also bear in strategic terms undermining effects on the possibilities of developing more mature, more effective forms of political organising and political education. As far as lower-strata working-class Muslims are concerned, who have been the target of the theory of new antisemitism, their self-identification in ethnic or religious terms with the oppressed and how they make sense of their social beings render them susceptible to a partial and deficient understanding of capital, imperial domination, and settler expansion. To this their response develops accordingly. The claims under the theory of new antisemitism suggesting that there is an increasing antisemitism among the lower-strata working-class Muslims bear effects on these Muslims’ isolation and marginalisation from the rest of the society; they function as constant pressures that seek to prevent meaningful ways for these Muslims to confront imperialism. Moreover, the favourable conditions that can – and do – give rise to anti-Jewish sentiments are also obstructing the possible channels through which they could develop forms of organisation that would tackle not only Zionist aggression and Western imperialism but the very conditions they suffer in Europe and elsewhere, because opposition to Zionism and imperialism can, and sometimes does, translate into such anti-Jewish sentiments.

In this section, I discussed how the theory and discourse of new antisemitism, advanced by the intellectuals whose aggregate efforts serve to legitimise neoliberal policies on national-political and geopolitical levels, seeks to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the critiques of imperialism and colonialism, as seen in US unilateralism and Israeli occupation of Palestine, respectively. This theory and discourse operates in ways exaggerating to the level of scaremongering the antisemitism in Europe’s Muslim youth, as well as in anti-imperialist Left, in order to marginalise the critics of imperialism and therefore isolate them. It is true, of course, that those in Europe’s Muslim youth and anti-imperialist left are not immune to antisemitism. As such, this poses serious dangers for a better understanding of the workings of global capitalism, which would otherwise be conceived one-sidedly and lead to lack of understanding why and how imperialism and colonialism are beneficial to the propertied classes in the neoliberal era. Therefore, both as a weapon and the symptom of the fetishistic conception of capital and power, antisemitism functions in the containment of lower-strata working-class Muslims in Europe.

In the remaining part of this article, I will offer an analysis in which ways the weaponisation of Islamophobia operate within the structural framework of Muslim political lives. But before that, a materialist understanding of Islamophobia as a racist discourse and a form of ‘social relation’ requires elaboration. 

Islamophobia and ‘racism as social relation’

The last two and a half decades have seen a dramatic increase in Europe and the US of anti-Muslim sentiments due to an association of Muslims with different forms of violence – jihad, terror, the autocratic tendencies of the regimes in Muslim-majority countries threatening the non-Muslim minorities, as well as patriarchal/macho violence against women and LGBTQ+ people. This has been propagated by mass media and the politicians and pundits ranging from right-wing to centre-left, which has resulted in the racialisation of Muslims, and made them subjects of an increasing prejudice based on their religious, ‘ethnic’ and cultural identities. In the political and scholarly lexicon, such sentiments have come to be dominantly described under the term Islamophobia. Although initially resisted by some scholars on the basis that Islam, a religion, would have nothing to do with ‘race’, meaning that Islamophobia would not be an apt way of describing what Muslims experience,[26] those who insisted on the specific racialisation of Muslims in the western world due to their affiliation with Islam, along the lines of what Stuart Hall called ‘race as a sliding signifier’,[27] made the strong case of conceiving Islamophobia as a form of racism[28] – or, in Brian Klug’s words, the concept came of age.[29] The racialisation of Muslims, incorporated into the European states’ structural selectiveness, has increasingly translated into the creation of a specific form of racism as a social relation of domination and power. This form surpasses its ideological and discursive boundaries and conforms to the framework, suggested by David Camfield, that stems from the existing forms of social-property relations which not only favour conditions of profitability for capital and imperialist domination,[30] but also create differential patterns of generational social reproduction along the lines of race, ethnicity and religious affiliation.[31] In turn, anti-Muslim racism operates among the segments of the white working class in ways in which Muslims are perceived to benefit from welfare-state provisions in domains such as housing much more generously than they do, therefore bolstering the racial divides within lower classes and consolidating what is often called ‘racial capitalism’.[32] In other words, racist ideology and discourse becomes a surrogate for the continued interests vested in the existing forms of social and economic inequalities that benefit even socio-economically disadvantaged people.

Despite such evident connections, Camfield’s model is useful in distinguishing the structuralised race relations that subordinate Muslims to racism as a system of social relations from the Islamophobic discourse and ideology. Whereas the ‘racism-as-social-relation’ theory provides room for analysing the inner differentiation dynamics within racialised peoples and communities on a materialist basis and in a non-essentialising manner, the ‘racism-as-discourse’ theory tends to treat the racialising effects of a racist discourse and ideology like Islamophobia in a way that essentialises Muslims as a monolithic category with an indifference to the multiple divisions – most notably, class divisions – running through them. This latter, I argue, is the critical node in which the uses of Islamophobia can become a tool for subjectivising the Muslims based on their religious-cum-ethnic identities while concealing these divisions.

The causal mechanism in this process of subjectivation through Muslims’ identity-formation in relation to their religious and ethnic identities needs elaboration, however. My argument here is not that Islamophobia-as-racism as a counter-weapon is used and directed by multiple actors on the ground against the bearers of the Islamophobic discourse that subjectivises Muslims. Otherwise put, it is not a counter-discursive strategy that leads to the Muslim self-identification in religious and ethnic terms. What I argue instead is that the effects of this essentialising counter-discourse on identity come into play with the existing framework of social-property relations as well as the organisational and collective-action forms that encompass Muslims’ social, cultural, and political lives. It is essentially these material structures through which Muslims, like any other group of people, make sense of the meaning of their conditions in religious and ethnic terms, since these structures are formed along these very lines.

As a discursive counter-strategy, the use of Islamophobia in the critique of Islamophobic racism, by espousing the notion that the racialisation of Muslims takes place in such a totalising way that it leaves intra-community differences aside and renders them invisible, consolidates the existing structures of organisation and collective action and further contributes to Muslims’ identity-formation and subjectivation within the confines of these structures rather than launching subjectivation processes that could lead to new forms of identity-formation. Therefore, the ‘class-blind’ formulations of Islamophobia without addressing the structural framework which encompasses many of the Muslims of the lower-strata working class might in fact strengthen this framework. Moreover, insofar as these structures remain intact and even consolidated, such formulations might rather serve as a weapon that obstructs the channels for lower-strata working-class Muslims’ new forms of organisation and collective action that are more democratic, ‘from below’, and more efficient in contesting and transforming the material conditions of racism as a system of social relation.

The causal mechanism I suggested above operates within the framework of what I outlined in the three organisational and collective-action forms that encompass European Muslims’ political, religious, and cultural lives. This brings me to the following question that concerns the interlocking material structures (organisational and collective-action forms) stemming from social-property relations and ideology. These material structures are either elite-biased due to their designs or insufficient in so far as mobilising lower-strata working class Muslims in collective-action forms through which they would not surmount the class hierarchies within Muslim communities themselves. Therefore, in what terms would the effects of the ideological and discursive roles played by the weaponisation of Islamophobia – essentialising Muslims and remaining indifferent to class boundaries – be realised?

In order to answer this question, one needs to first analyse the structural framework of the Muslims’ political lives in Europe. The structures of organisational and collective-action forms in which Muslims’ majority engage today, I suggest, provide the key to understanding how the counter-discourse on Islamophobia developed within Muslims would lay the ground for its weaponisation.

European Muslims and organisational and collective-action form

If Muslim population’s, especially its youth’s, self-identification with the Palestinian cause particularly through an adoption of an identity-formation on the basis of ethnic, national and religious terms, it would be useful here to elaborate on the forms of organisation and collective action into which the European Muslims are incorporated in order to have a better grasp of how the counter-discourse on Islamophobia is related to the social and associational structures stemming from social-property relations. Taking France as the main country of focus, I will suggest three main forms that characterise Muslim organisation and collective action:[33] (i) elite-controlled vertical organisations; (ii) elite-controlled networks; (iii) grassroots organisations.[34]

Elite-controlled vertical organisations

In France, prior to the 1980s, a considerable part of Muslim organising concerned Muslim immigrant workers’ religious and cultural identities, alongside their working-class identities. Two main problems surfaced since the beginnings of the immigration from Muslim-majority countries to Europe:[35] (i) from the perspective of the receiving states, it was the problem of ‘governing Islam’ under circumstances where European states had little to no expertise and resources of their own to address the fundamental cultural and social needs of the Muslims in their countries – such as religious rituals, funeral services or meals in the workplace; (ii) from the perspective of the home states, it was both ‘governing Islam abroad’ and the concerns about their citizens’ activities abroad, especially political activities, in the countries to which they had emigrated.[36] 

Against the background of economic stagnation, subsequent increasingly high levels of unemployment and the weakening power of working-class organisations, the second-generation Muslims, mostly born and raised in France, have been very precariously integrated into economic life. Since the 1980s, this has resulted in the shifting ways in which Muslims, along generational lines, make sense of their social beings and reality, moving away from working-class identities and increasingly towards ethnic, cultural and religious identities.[37] By the 1980s, organisational efforts around Muslim identity began to intensify, especially under the strong influence of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and with the financial support of Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These efforts culminated in the creation of umbrella organisations such as Union des Organisations Islamiques en France, which then led to mirror developments, such as the co-optation of pre-existing organisations by home states, as in the case of the Fédération Nationale des Musulmans de France (FNMF) and Morocco, alongside the French state’s own efforts to bring together these Muslim associations within one ostensibly representative national body with strong connections to the French state. These efforts have represented France’s own vision to create an official ‘French Islam’ and reduce the transnational character of Muslim French identities, which in some cases have become even more transnational due to French Muslim associations’ dependency on the financial and ideological resources of Muslim countries around the Mediterranean and in the Gulf.[38]

The central role of the institutions established in order to address these problems and to govern Islam and Muslims made holding strong ties to both home states and France a prerequisite and necessary at the same time, which in turn required them to be structurally designed as what I call elite-controlled vertical organisations.

Elite-controlled networks

European Muslims’ increasing self-identification in ethnic, national and religious terms corresponded to a proliferation of associations and ‘networks’ organised around such identities in the 1980s. Against the background of the increasing influence of the so-called ‘Islamic revival’ in Muslim-majority countries in the 1970s onwards, religious movements such as Tablighi Jamaat began to find fertile ground for their proselytist activities in the Muslim-populated working-class neighbourhoods in French suburbs in the late 1970s and early 1980s.[39] In Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere, the Turkish political-Islamist Milli Görüş community or religious congregational groups such as the Süleymancılar similarly expanded their networks within local Muslim communities under the guidance of spiritual or politico-religious (or, in the case of Gülenists, both) leaders, and the auspices of local notables.[40]

Although the nature of such forms of congregational and politico-religious organising is loose due to their network character – in the sense that congregation attendees, mere members or ‘sympathisers’ are subject not to strictly-defined associational rules under accountable check-and-balance mechanisms, but rather to non-written mores and customs – these networks are firmly controlled by the network elites and reflect the rigid hierarchies that subordinate the rank and file to the leaders and notables. They are not only in charge of providing charity and provisions to the poor, whose loyalties in turn consolidate their social basis, but they also function as channels for essential aspects of everyday and socio-economic life such as job-finding or house-searching.[41] Therefore, the logic of this form of organising operates firmly within the workings of civil society, somewhat distanced from the state (whose selectiveness already ignores the rank and file), which in turn brings about, at the same time, both class hierarchies and their immediate concealment through the adherents’ narrower self-identification with the network and wider self-identification in ethnic, national and religious terms.

Grassroots organisations

Not all forms of Muslim organising retain religious identity stricto sensu, and since early 1960s, such organisations as the Association des Marocains en France (1961) or, later, the Mouvement des Travailleurs Arabes (1972) have organised Muslims based on working-class identity and around left-wing causes.[42] Given their members’ guest-worker status, the social power of these earlier organisations had been limited by two factors due to citizenship: the fragile position vis-à-vis the French state; and the threat perceived by the home states due to their ‘undesired’ political activities, which could pose several problems back in the home countries.

Demarcating these earlier, first-generation immigrants’ grassroots organisations from the second generation–led grassroots organisations is important in terms of their organisational capacities stemming from their social power. In the former, this capacity was delimited by the legal framework of the rank and file’s citizenship and guest-worker status and the double bind between home and receiving states. In the latter, their organisational capacity was delimited by the grassroots organisations’ growing disconnection from the forms of collective action based on class power. This latter was due to structural socio-economic changes related to post-crisis capitalist restructuration, deindustrialisation, the increasing levels of unemployment that have set additional barriers to second-generation Muslims’ incorporation into the economy, the changing labour regime and the problems tied to organised labour ­­– all in the context of the ‘long downturn’ in advanced capitalist economies.[43] Therefore, the focus of the second-generation Muslim grassroots organisations moved, or had to move, away from class identity to non-class identities largely because of these structural effects. Important as they are, the significant weakness of these struggles is that, within their scopes, collective action does not exact the social power which, counterfactually, could have been obtained by class power in different structural circumstances or by the creation of new forms of labour organising and mobilisation of workers under elevated precarious working conditions.

Two moments are of crucial importance for the grassroots organisations of the descendants of Muslim immigrants in the post-1980s. First, in the period that Gilles Kepel has called the ‘Islam of the youth’ during anti-globalisation protests and in the context of war on terror, Muslim descendants of immigrants, disillusioned by the previous generation’s Ikhwanism that had been hegemonic with the previous generation in the 1980s and 1990s, sought ways of subjectivation detached from the ‘elite-controlled vertical organisations’. One of the primary ways was by becoming involved in the alter-globalisation movement through Attac in France and through other organisations elsewhere, all the while retaining a certain degree of self-identification in Islamic terms but associating this religious identity with left-wing causes such as anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation and anti-imperialism, and seeking alliances in the non–colour blind Left.[44] In France, such attempts were met with typically non-constructive class-reductionist responses from a reluctant Left – with important exceptions such as certain segments within the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (later, Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste) – and did not succeed in forming solid alliances whereas, in Britain, a weaker Muslim rank-and-file mobilisation has succeeded in forming alliances with the Left within the Stop the War Coalition and Globalise Resistance,[45] as well as the solidarity in challenging the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, albeit with increasing fragilities.[46]

Despite the differences in the attitudes of the Left on both sides of the Channel,[47] the net effect of such attempts on forming alliances remained minimal in both cases. Moreover, the ideological motivations behind these attempts, along with the associational power of the organisations involved in such causes, in terms of the lack of mobilising a working class–led mass movement, remained problematic in view of these movements’ engagement with the very objects of their analyses. First of these problems is the treating of global capitalism one-sidedly through opposition to global trade and financial power, which is understood in terms of a hegemonic US or Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism and the perspective that this model could be confronted with a counter-hegemonic one.[48] The second is the ‘avoid[ing]’, in the words of Marcos Ancelovici, of ‘old themes of the Left, such as the class struggle’, and the ‘stress [on] the inclusive identity of the citizen’, as in the case of ATTAC France.[49] Finally, the confrontation to contemporary imperialism was often reduced to anti-Americanism and opposition to other US allies such as Israel, but not as part of the global economic architecture of capitalism.[50] The dislocation of the working class from the centre of political organising and mass mobilisation in these movements in turn delimited Muslim grassroots organisations’ potential attempts to bridge the gaps between class and non-class identities, and instead left the necessary correlation between class inequalities and non-class inequalities largely unestablished while focusing overly on the latter.

Second, in the wake of failed alliances between Muslim grassroots organisations and the Left and the banlieue riots of Fall 2005, the foundation of the Indigènes de la République (PIR – first movement, then party) in 2005 following and transcending the earlier efforts of neighbourhood and community organising by establishing a political organisation of the cadres has been one of the most significant developments that involved Muslim organising, along with other people of colour.[51] The Indigènes rejected the elite-controlled vertical organisations’ hegemony and their co-optation by both the French state and the states of the ostensible ‘countries of origin’; they defended and proclaimed the prospect of a youth who rejected the Ikhwanist UOIF’s infamous fatwa that forbade the 2005 riots; and they developed an organisational model that aspired to go beyond the religious confines of the elite-controlled networks and empower the rank and file. Ideologically committed to anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism, and theoretically drawing on postcolonial studies and critical race theory with strong influences from figures of anti-colonial struggle and the black liberation movements such as Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis and Malcolm X, they defended a political line that underlined the urgent necessity of decolonising the Republic’s indigènes at the heart of the metropole.[52] Their political commitment pointed out the intrinsic relation of class exploitation and non-class, particularly racial, forms of domination – though often overemphasising the latter and underemphasising the former.[53]

From the outset, their analysis of the French state and society – a white colonial society that is sustained by a whites-only political sphere and a colour-blind republican model, which, under its Fifth Republican period, was formed upon a ‘colonial counter-revolution’[54] – informed the following political strategy they adopted: if racism and white supremacy is institutionalised in the current French model, then, for a decolonial project, it becomes necessary to reform or transform these institutions in the first place insofar as a new model would establish the conditions for an autonomous indigène political, cultural, and of course religious life to flourish.[55] The Indigènes’ clear prioritisation of the liberation of ‘social races’ in their political agenda before other forms of oppression and exploitation apparently delimited alliances with an already reluctant, crude class-reductionist Left; but more importantly, their negligence of forming a working-class identity peculiar to the indigènes, and their lack of interest in mobilising theindigène sections of the working class as such, hindered the reach of the influence and effects of their collective action and confined it to the limits of non-class identities, especially ‘social race’.

Above, I analysed the structural framework of the Muslim political life with a particular focus on France. I argued the collective-action and organisational forms that encompass Muslims create certain deficits that hinder the prospects of more democratic, class-based organisations in which lower-strata working-class Muslims could have been more empowered. In the next section, I will describe and discuss the effects of the weaponisation of Islamophobia which plays a mediating role within this structural framework.

Elite capture?

The notion of ‘elite capture’ is a useful term to analyse and describe such effects. Stemming from developmental economics and sociology in the context of foreign aid to Global South communities, the term describes how individuals with disproportionately more access to power benefit from such allocations for their own interests instead of the common interests of the community and the interests of those with little to no access to power. In recent years, the term has become more frequent in political analyses. Most notably, its use by those involved in critical social theory has reformulated the term as a concept to grasp the ‘unintended’ consequences of emancipatory movements organised around race, gender or sexuality that come about when those with more access to power structures among oppressed communities end up benefiting disproportionately more from these emancipatory movements, consolidating, and often strengthening, their positions by the virtue of collective struggles and organisations.[56]

That elite capture is a general feature of politics is particularly related to the designs of the organisations and associations that mobilise their adherents or members. Where there is a lack of democratic design and participation, these organisations and associations tend to consolidate the existing patterns of inequalities, especially across class lines, eventually obstructing and weakening democracy that is detrimental for maintaining both racial and other non-class forms of justice as well as socio-economic equality.[57] In this scheme, discursive inputs mobilised through the notions that pertain to the oppression of unprivileged and disadvantageous groups, organised around race, gender, class or some ‘intersection’ thereof, become effective within the structural framework of organisational and collective-action forms, thus enabling the elite capture of politics. The same scheme also applies for Muslim organisations and politics when the counter-discourse of Islamophobia is mobilised in the essentialising, non–class specific ways that result in different ways of elite capture. This can be observed most obviously in the elite-controlled models of organisation and collective action: both elite-controlled vertical organisations and elite-controlled networks are structurally lacking democratic participation and decision-making as they are designed in a ‘top-down’ fashion in the first place and, particularly in the case of networks, they operate specifically in the mere sphere of civil society that is dominated by the intertwined economic and religious lives of the Muslims. The role of Islamophobia as a weaponised, counter-discursive strategy in relation to Muslims’ identity-formation processes based on religion is, therefore, structurally biased towards reinforcing the elite-controlled designs and securing elite capture.

A more complex situation occurs in the case of grassroots organisations. In these grassroots organisations, channels for the democratic participation of the rank and file and their involvement in decision-making processes are not absent since their designs involve ‘from-below’ participatory mechanisms. Therefore, they are less prone to elite capture of politics than the elite-controlled models of organisation and collective action. However, as discussed above, the limited reach and impact of the grassroots organisations’ collective action due to lack of interest in forming a working-class identity peculiar to lower-strata working-class Muslims renders them susceptible to remaining within the confines of a politics revolving around non-class forms of identity. This prioritises the struggles against non-class forms of oppression which, in effect, bear the marks of class-determining socio-economic inequalities that run through the very identity group at stake. Prioritisation of racial or racialised religious identities over class, therefore, enables concealing the class differentiations that cut across non-class identities, consequently laying the groundwork for elite capture against the grain of the democratic designs of their organisational and collective-action forms.

An illustrative example can be found in the work of Sadri Khiari, who played a substantial role in the foundation and development of the PIR. In his most important book, for example, he holds that ‘a Muslim indigène voting in the local elections for a Sarkozyst candidate who promises to construct a mosque is much more of a problem for the Republic compared to a secularindigène voting in the legislative elections for socialists with the hope that they raise wages. … [The two parties] take parts in the White Power; with sometimes differing strategies, they aspire to break our resistance and instrumentalise us in the competition in which they oppose each other.What I want to untangle is how a politics of the indigènes takes form through contradictory, and sometimes aberrant, mediations.’[58] What is problematic in these arguments put forth by Khiari is not this or that right-wing party or candidate could be tactically seen an alternative to Socialist Party. The logic behind Khiari’s argument relies on a certain reading of world capitalism and modern racism, and this is the source what makes his account problematic.

The kind of decolonial project the Indigènes pursue assumes that, if capitalism existed before colonialism, it could not have developed fully fledgedwithout the colonial expansion and the entailing modern racism, which first came ‘in 1492, and again in 1830’.[59] We therefore have ‘modernity’ as an encompassing system, with its institutions and ideologies such as nation-states, universalism and Enlightenment – all structuring the societies from early modernity onwards due to that civilisational logic and the structural racism that is operating at levels ranging from local to global wherever colonialism reaches. This leaves the agential role of social classes to an inconsequential, exiguous level, divorced from the structuration effects of the development of capitalism on a global scale. In this interpretation, Khiari, drawing on an anti-statist methodology that is informed by postmodernist critiques of the state, formulates an opposition between the politics of the Indigènes and the ‘universalist’, ‘centralist’, ‘secular’ nation-state in a postcolonial setting. It is by this opposition that any development capable of undermining the logic of the modern nation-state – therefore its inherent colonialist, racist and (equivocally) capitalist character – becomes favourable to endorse the ‘lesser-evil’ political choices.

He notes, for example, how Muslim organisations formed along the lines of what I called ‘elite-controlled vertical organisations’, despite their collaborationism with the French state, as well as the ‘home states’, and their functioning in the immediate setbacks of the decolonial agenda, play a positive role in furthering the ‘expansion’ of Islam in the midst of the postcolonial metropole, in an implicitly dialectical way.[60] Therefore, according to Khiari’s logic, ‘through contradictory, and sometimes aberrant, mediations’, elite forms of politics could be more beneficial to such radical agendas as decolonisation. In Khiari and other Indigène theorists and activists there is perhaps no lack of structural interpretation of existing inequalities along racial and class lines; but the lack of accounting for economic structures, socio-economic transformations and entailing class composition that results in the depiction of figures such as François Bayrou or a Sarkozyst candidate as lesser evils,[61] or furthermore, attributing positive roles to elite-controlled vertical organisations or networks, could be considered a way of justification of a particular form of elite capture of politics.

Such examples could be multiplied; what, however, can be deduced from such instances is that elite capture of politics, in the case of French Muslims and possibly others, is not necessarily an absolute victory of the elites but rather a tendential dynamic that benefit the elites as a result of the existing organisational and collective-action forms. Therefore, despite such perils, there is also a large room for political education and strategic thinking towards a more sustained integration of racially-marginalised people into class-centred left-wing organisations. Yet the negligence of complex causal mechanisms that relate class exploitation to racial oppression, whose intricacies become more discernable in the historiographical identification of modernity and capitalism, would lead to erroneous political positions informed by inadequate theory.

Conclusion: Containing Muslims

If elite capture is a tendential dynamic from which the elites can benefit, it could be maintained as a result of blocking the channels that favours grassroots, democratic participation of the Muslim rank and file within political processes in general, and subordinating them to organisational structures in which either they have little to no power (as in the cases of elite-controlled vertical organisations and networks), or in which the differential class locations are relegated to an inconsequential level (grassroots organisations). Borrowing from the political-history lexicon, and from the work of Arno J. Mayer,[62] this sort of blockage could be understood in terms of ‘containment’. In Mayer’s work, containment appears in the framework of categories such as ‘conservative’, ‘reactionary’ and ‘counterrevolutionary’ in the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European political history, and it relates to the containment of democratic mass politics – in contradistinction to mass politics in the wider sense – so as to include not only revolutionary but also reformist elements.[63] Adopting this framework, it becomes possible to conclude that the obstruction and blockage of the means for European Muslims’ democratic mass politics, through the interplay of delimitations brought about by elite-controlled structures and the indifference or neglect of underlying intra-community inequalities such as class, which in turn leads to the tendential dynamics of elite capture, produces the containment of lower-strata working-class Muslims.

The two discursive strategies I have focused on – the weaponisation of antisemitism and the weaponisation of Islamophobia (or, what I alternatively termed the counter-discourse of Islamophobia) – become effective in this politics of containment in two different ways that are often competing but somewhat complementary. This paper discussed the following: the weaponisation of antisemitism, as borne by neoliberalism-embracing intellectuals, suggests that antisemitism is a feature of some parts of Muslim communities that are deeply immersed in Islamic fundamentalism by delineating goodvs. bad Muslims, and thus following the tactic ofde-essentialising Muslims. Its ultimate goal is the isolation of Muslims and the anti-imperialist Left wary of and opposed to the ongoing politics of military aggression in the Middle East perpetrated by the US and the Israeli state. Such a strategy and tactics conform to the neoliberal logic of the ‘war on terror’ as represented by the imperialist policies of US-led interventionism and unilateralism (garnering support even from such states as France, with more autonomously-pursued foreign policies traditionally but over time during the two decades from 2000s onwards aligning with pro-US and pro-NATO positions, albeit with usual tensions). This goal of isolation is reflected in the structural selectiveness of the European states that are visibly less affirmative towards their minorities after long periods of neoliberal transformation. Moreover, despite several common threads such as the racialising Islamophobic discourse, just like the differences between conservatives and reactionaries, they should be considered differently from those adopted by the new right-wing populisms – mobilising anti-democratic mass politics as a revolt to the centrist establishments – which essentialise Muslims in reference to a supposedly monolithic ‘Islamic’ culture and religion. This is best exemplified by the parties such as, Partij voor de Vrijheid,Alternative für Deutschland or Le Front/Rassemblement National. The weaponisation of Islamophobia, on the other hand, seeks tore-essentialise Muslims through discursive means by concealing the class differences and inequalities within Muslim communities and building an identity-formation detached from working-class identity. This counter-discursive strategy does not build such an identity-formation through its own capacity, but it becomes enabled by the structural framework of organisational and collective-action forms that encompass European Muslims, and through which they make sense of their social beings and reality surrounding them. Whereas elite-controlled structures, in particular networks, provide especially the Muslim lower-strata working class with several means of subsistence, safety nets, and even job access in a top-down fashion, thus consolidating and strengthening their structural designs under the control of the elites through Muslims’ identity-formation along non-class (ethnic, national and/or religious) lines, democratically-designed grassroots organisations’ negligence of, or indifference to, forming working-class identities hinders the reach of power stemming from their organisations while enacting the tendential dynamics of elite capture. In short, this paper has argued that the comparison of antisemitism and Islamophobia could be best captured in their weaponisation which, starting from very different premises, ends up with the same consequence: the containment of the lower-strata working class Muslims.


The author gratefully acknowledges the comments, criticisms, and suggestions from Benjamin Bruce and Cemil Yıldızcan. Also, many thanks to Jack Boas, Ali Yalçın Göymen, Maral Jefroudi, Omar Refaat, Omar Sadik, Sinem Uz, and Halil İbrahim Yenigün for their helpful comments on the various drafts of this paper. I greatly benefited from the detailed comments and suggestions from the three referees, as well as those from the Special Issue editors, Sai Englert and Alex de Jong. I also wish to acknowledge the support of Priya Kapoor and Leopoldo Rodriguez in International & Global Studies Department at Portland State University which helped me keep on researching and writing. The usual disclaimers apply.


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[1] Kouvélakis 2005; Farris 2014.

[2] Meer and Modood 2009; Meer and Modood 2012; Klug 2014; Zia-Ebrahimi 2018; Bracke and Hernández Aguilar 2020. Also see: Said 2003, for the parallelism between antisemitism and Orientalism, as a precursor to Islamophobia.

[3] Badiou and Hazan 2013.

[4] On the notion of continuity from the Jewish to the Muslim question in European context, formulated as the ‘European question’, see: Anidjar 2012, De Genova 2018; on the gendered racialisation of Muslim women in Europe, see: Scott 2007, Delphy 2015; Farris 2017; on the race–class–gender nexus in the Muslim question, see: Farris 2015.

[5] Zia-Ebrahimi 2018; Bracke and Hernández Aguilar 2020.

[6] Friedländer 1997; Mayer 1988.

[7]For the great replacement theory, see: Camus 2011. For a ‘mainstream’ version of this account, see: Caldwell 2010.

[8] Traverso 2019, pp. 74–5.

[9] I will refer here only to a select number of authors who have addressed these notions. For capitalist state selectiveness, see: Offe 1974; for the retreat of the activist state, see: Fung and Wright 2001; for the theory of long downturn, see: Brenner 2006.

[10] For this materialist framework of identity-formation, I draw on Chibber 2017, 2022. My understanding of the workings of ideology and discourse is partly informed by Therborn 1980.

[11] Pascal Boniface (2014) calls the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the major geopolitical issue that makes the French society ‘sick’. Also see: Boniface 2017.

[12] Brenner 2002; Taguieff 2002, 2004; Finkielkraut 2003; Lévy 2004; Weill 2004.

[13] For a critique of the extended version of hostility to democracy equated to opposing American unilateralism, see Segré 2013, chap. 1.

[14] Fekete 2009.

[15] Mamdani 2004.

[16] Tuğal 2007; Tuğal 2012.

[17] Bush 2001.

[18] Finkielkraut 2006. (Emphasis and translation mine.)

[19] Englert 2018.

[20]The particular interests of these other countries’ propertied classes, often invested in reviving old colonial ventures, pressure to shift their states’ policy choices towards alignment in the midst of sometimes fierce inter-elite political rivalries. This could be observed in France between the pro-NATO positions and the Gaullist legacy. Ostermann 2019; Rieker 2017; Banégas 2014.

[21] Badiou and Hazan 2013; Segré 2013.

[22] Silverstein 2008; Peace 2009.

[23] The debate in the pages of Salvage magazine between Barnaby Raine and Sai Englert is an illustrative example. See: Raine 2019 and Raine 2021 for the first position; Englert 2019 for the second.

[24] This should not be understood as that religion is the most important factor in the self-identification of the Muslims. Maxwell and Bleich (2014), drawing on the 2008­–9 Trajectoires et Origines survey (Beauchemin, Hamel and Simon 2015), make a compelling case that, regarding the entirety of the Muslim population in France, religious self-identification does not present an accurate picture.

[25] Englert 2020. Halliday 1999; Miles and Brown 2003.

[26] Halliday 1999; Miles and Brown 2003.

[27] Hall 2017.

[28] Meer and Modood 2012; Opratko 2017.

[29] Klug 2012.

[30] Camfield 2016.

[31] In a working-paper presented earlier I try to offer an analysis of the outcomes of a such structural-selectiveness on the differential patterns of generational reproduction among immigrant communities in France, by drawing on the 2008–9 TeO survey. See: Özpınar 2021.

[32] Ali and Whitham 2021.

[33] Here and in the following sections, I use Muslim organisation/organising as a practical term to describe the organisational and collective-action forms that encompass Muslims, who are designated as such due not to a religious identity on the basis of one of many interpretations of Islam, but to the racialisation of a sociological group that involves even those who do not associate themselves with any interpretation of Islam.

[34] This tentative taxonomy is informed partly by Frégosi 2013; however, Frégosi’s model essentially draws on Muslim organisations’ relation to religion and excludes the class aspect from the picture. Parvez 2013, 2017, on the other hand, provides crucial insights for a class-based model, though she does not go on to offer one. I am loosely drawing on these works for my own purposes in this section.

[35] For the history of immigration to France from its former colonies and elsewhere, see: Sayad 1977; Noiriel 1988.

[36]Despite this very important transnational dynamic at play in the Muslim organisations in Western Europe, out of which it could be deduced that elite-controlled vertical organisations are a function of home and receiving states’ policy concerns of governing Islam, the purposes of this article have to leave its concrete analysis out of the scope. For a fuller analysis, see: Bruce 2019.

[37] Kepel 2012, pp. 150–2.

[38] Bruce 2019.

[39] Kepel 2012.

[40] Kortmann 2012.

[41] Perhaps the most extreme case – in the sense of its operational mode in the strict confines of civil society and its deliberate distance to politics – of this form is the non-political, ‘quietist’ Salafism in France, where more powerful community members assume such roles. See: Adraoui 2013; Amghar 2008.

[42] Bruce 2019; Dumont 2007; Aissaoui 2006, 2009.

[43] Notwithstanding my argument based on the changes in material structures, the relatively-autonomous role of ideology and discourse also plays an important role – see: Yilmaz 2016.

[44] Kepel 2012, pp. 244–91.

[45] Peace 2015.

[46] Harris 2021.

[47] Callinicos 2008.

[48]Bieler and Morton 2004.

[49] Ancelovici 2002, p. 435.

[50] Rupert 2003.

[51] Bouteldja and Khiari 2012.

[52] Kipfer 2011.

[53] The Indigènes have always had a certain sensitivity to class exploitation, as Bouteldja and Boussoumah (2021) insist; the foundational texts of the movement, such as Khiari 2009 and Bouteldja 2017, however, treat class exploitation with a secondary importance to racial oppression. More on this will follow in the next section.

[54] Khiari 2009; also see: Khiari 2006.

[55] Khiari 2010.

[56] Táíwò 2022. Similarly, though from a more sociological perspective, Cedric Johnson (2022) employs terms such as ‘elite-brokerage dynamics’ or ‘elite-driven politics’ in his work on the class contradictions of black political life in the US.

[57] Cohen and Rogers 1992; Fung and Wright 2001; Wright 2010.

[58] Khiari 2009, pp. 126–7. (My translation.)

[59] Bouteldja 2017, p. 30. On the same page, she notes: ‘I only have one conscience, which awakens my memories of 1492’; and later on, she concludes: ‘… in 1492, what was imposed in the Americas was less an economic system than a civilization: Modernity’ (p. 118).

[60] Khiari 2009, pp. 133–5.

[61] For that Bayrou could be seen as ‘lesser evil’, see Khiari 2010.

[62] Among his many works, I specifically refer to Mayer 1971; also see: Grandin 2010.

[63] Grandin 2010, p. 417.