France’s Muslim population : out of the shadows into the light ?
Regardless of source, a curiously small number of Muslims living in France were included in survey samples in the late 1990s, and this fact does not fit well with the assessments about the national population then put forward. However, since the turn of the twenty-first century, the weight of this population has been increasing at a regular, rapid pace. This can be understood as the superimposition of two effects : the rapid rise of Islam in France, primarily among immigrants’ descendants, and increased self-identification as Muslim (respondents are now more likely to so identify themselves). This observation raises the question of what the reference to Islam means ; it is important to ask whether it is more cultural than religious. But that interpretation is not borne out by Observatoire Interrégional du Politique surveys measuring mosque attendance and explicit statements of religious belief. At a more general level, these data, together with previous ones, contradict some secularization theories, making it clear that they should be revised.