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The Laïcisation of the Religious Radical in French Public Schools: Does Educational Secularization Drive Youth Away From Violent Extremism

Most recently amidst the global crisis of terrorism, France has taken austere measures to face the threat of radicalization, pushing for greater reinforcement of laïcité, or French secularity, in the educational space. Despite the abundance of theoretical, scholarly critiques of France’s secularism policies—pointing out their potential discriminatory nature mainly against the country’s Muslim population—the French government still sees laïcité as a tool to give students access to a common and shared culture. Grounded in scholarship linking radicalization to socio-political disaffection, this thesis tries to understand the impact of French secularism—and its manifestation in the public educational space—on the socio-political disaffection of Muslim youth in France. In examining this interaction ethnographically, this thesis engages in a larger reflection upon the use of education as a preventative tool against radicalization and homegrown terrorism within the often-opposing binaries of secularity and religiosity in France.

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