Far-Right Movements in France: The Principal Role of Front National and the Rise of Islamophobia

  • Annie Benveniste
  • Etienne Pingaud


This chapter presents the current landscape of the French far right through an ethnographic study of two significant protagonists, the Front National and the network of activists fighting the phenomenon they call ‘Islamisation’. The chapter is principally devoted to the Front National, which has been overwhelming in the lead on the radical right since its first success in 1982–1983. The Front National is described in terms of its ideological production and evolution, its conception of the ‘others’ and its links with other organisations or institutions whose intellectual work can build political and ideological cleavages. We also describe organisations that are fighting hate speeches and discrimination, providing examples of recent cases involving far-right organisations and leaders.

The empirical section focuses on the Front National and, inter alia, analyses a specific, explicitly anti-Islam “event” in Paris that attracted a large number of activists. The analysis is built with data gathered in interviews with members of organisations and participants involved in the events. We also use observations and important literature available in French, especially about Front National and the Le Pen family, to explore recent changes within the organisation. For the first time since the birth of the party in 1972, the new president has been elected by the membership. They chose Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter, Marine, regarded as a moderniser as a result of her strategy known as dédiabolisation. The analysis of the data collected from the interviewees, who were all strong Marine Le Pen supporters, illustrates the organisation’s new recruitment strategy and the new direction it seeks to adopt to become a ‘regular’ political party. The chapter also explores the latest trends in the French far right emerging in the 2000s that position Islam as the principal enemy. These individual activists, with their links to the international network (anti-Islam or counter-Jihad) that is being built in Europe, have developed a new way of observing French society through the lens of Islamic issues. We then look at the role played by anti-far right organisations in combating hate speech and crime against the ‘other’.


Assisted Reproductive Technology Hate Speech Lesbian Couple Youth Organisation Front National 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie Benveniste
    • 1
  • Etienne Pingaud
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational ScienceUniversity of Paris VIIISaint-DenisFrance

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