Article

Polite responses to stigmatization: ethics of exemplarity among French Muslim elites

Margot Dazey

Abstract

Anti-Muslim hostility in Europe operates in a variety of forms and settings. While a rich body of work has highlighted the multifaceted stigmatization of Islam in European societies, little is known on how Muslims respond to it. Based on an ethnographic case study of a group of French Muslim activists, this article describes how they explain, rebut and cope with anti-Muslim hostility. Drawing on sociological research on antiracist practices, the article expands understandings of non-confrontational strategies designed to dispel prejudices gradually and educate racist people tactfully. More precisely, the French Muslim activists I interviewed urge their coreligionists to display good manners and exemplary behaviour in response to stigmatization, mobilizing a middle-class set of values encompassing politeness, discretion, socio-economic uplift and self-discipline. In doing so, these activists offer oppositional space to anti-Muslim hostility but also reinforce some of the hegemonic values of colour-blind French republicanism.

Published in

Ethnic and Racial Studies, November 2021, forthcoming