Why There’s Tension Between France and Its Muslim Population

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TIME

With news that the chief suspects in the massacre on Wednesday at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo are French citizens, a new mystery emerges: how could the land of liberty, equality and fraternity have produced men hell-bent on destroying all three? While the attack may evoke comparisons to earlier tragedies in New York, London, or Madrid, France’s relationship with its Muslim citizens is particular — and particularly fraught. What sets France on a particular collision course with Islamic practices is the country’s radical brand of secularism — and this ideology’s impact on French Muslim life.

With more than 5 million Muslims, France may have Western Europe’s largest Muslim community, but its relationship with Islam has been tenser than, say, Britain’s or Germany’s. An older generation of French Muslims has been alienated by memories of the Algerian War in the 1950s, when local groups battled for independence…

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