ECPR General Conference
Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo
6 - 9 September 2017




Blood, Religion or Culture? Framing Islam in the Online Network of the French Far Right

Comparative Politics
 
Extremism
 
Identity
 
Immigration
 
Internet
 
Islam
 
National Identity
 
Populism
 
Presenter
Caterina Froio
University of Oxford
Authors
Caterina Froio
University of Oxford

Abstract
Following the 9/11 attacks, Islam has become a top priority in public debates in Europe and the US. While scholars agree that Islam is crucial in the electoral propaganda of the far right and that it is also acquiring importance in far right street politics, to date virtually no contribution provided an account of anti-Islam mobilization among far right parties and movements. To address this gap, this paper aims at understanding when do anti-Islam narratives become an avenue for joint mobilization between actors engaged in the protest and electoral arenas. It addresses three major questions. How contemporary far right organizations embed anti-Islam arguments within their nativist narratives? Do parties and movements share common anti-Islam frames? Does anti-Islam nativism impact the definition of the identity of the far right itself? The study combines a Social Network Analysis of the links between 77 far right websites, with a qualitative frame analysis of the material retrieved online. The focus is on France, a country where Islam lies at the core of public debates, especially after the recent terrorist episodes. The results indicate that: 1) Openly racist prejudices are very limited, whereas frames opposing Islam on the basis of religious and cultural values are predominant. Most notably, far right religious and cultural frames tend to mirror opposite positions on key principles of France’s social contract: laicitè and Republicanism. 2) Communication networks between parties and movements are based upon a number of consensual frames emphasizing issues perceived as ‘respectable’ for a majority of the public opinion 3) A common pattern of identification with “Western civilization” seems to be emerging within the otherwise very heterogeneous milieu of the French far right. This post-national ethos overcomes nation-states’ roots and traditions in the name of a broader struggle against the ‘Islamization of Europe’.
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