Working paper

Radicalization of Islam or Peddling Radicalism? Lessons from the French Experience

Jean-Paul Azam, and Jérôme Ferret


A simple game-theoretic model is used to end the sterile intellectual trench war between those who analyze each instance of a community’s radicalization process as a self-contained phenomenon and those who prefer to embed such episodes within a more encompassing social framework. In the model, two groups labeled “Muslims” and “Nativists” are competing using radicalization as a tool to enlarge their share of the limelight in the media. Exogenous shocks are then shown to entail both idiosyncratic responses and interactions between the two groups. The French “radicalized decade” 2011-2020, which witnessed both the highly lethal November 13, 2015, Jihadist attacks at the Bataclan theater, several cafés outside terrasses, and at the Stade de France, and the populist gilets jaunes massive uprising from 2018 to the COVID-related lockdown in 2020, among other radicalization events, is used to put some of the model’s insight to work. A simple extension of the model sheds some light on the emerging Islamo-Leftist and Lefto-Populist tacit collusions, suggesting that the radical left’ splintering probably did boost the collective radicalization process.

See also

Published in

IAST Working Paper, n. 23-158, November 2023