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Reverse Orientalism? French Salafis’ Fascination with Saudi Arabia

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submitted on 2023-05-11, 11:21 and posted on 2023-05-11, 11:41 authored by Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

Recently, French Muslims have been seen by several media outlets and politicians to be increasingly influenced by some of the understandings of Islam that were born in Saudi Arabia. While some connections do undoubtedly exist, I show that what we are experiencing today has much more to do with a broad globalization of beliefs, symbols, and identities than with an explicit desire to make French Muslims embrace Salafism. More importantly, I show in this piece that the influence of some forms of Islam originating in the Gulf within French society can be first and foremost interpreted as the result of a desire to identify with a non-French way of being a Muslim. Analyzing the kind of relations between certain French Muslims and a country such as Saudi Arabia highlights the fascination for Salafism and the rejection of their home country’s values. Interestingly, as shown in this piece through specific examples, French Salafis are perpetuating an Orientalist view of the Islamic world, starting with Saudi Arabia, seen as a “the land of religious authenticity.” By essentializing identity, geography, and culture, this French Salafi Orientalist type represents an original way of looking and understanding “the Islamic East” today.

Other Information

Published in: Social Change and Transformation in the Gulf Region
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  • English


Springer Singapore

Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar National Library

Geographic coverage

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States

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