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Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West

by Gilles Kepel Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 240 pages
AU$67.99 NZ$69.56
Product Status: In Stock Now
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In November 2015, ISIS terrorists massacred scores of people in Paris with coordinated attacks on the Bataclan concert hall, cafés and restaurants, and the national sports stadium. On Bastille Day in 2016, an ISIS sympathizer drove a truck into crowds of holiday goers at the beaches of Nice, and two weeks later an elderly French priest was murdered during morning Mass by two ISIS militants. Here is Gilles Kepel's explosive account of the radicalization of a segment of Muslim youth that led to those attacks - and of the failure of governments in France and across Europe to address it. It is a book everyone in the West must read.


Terror in France shows how these atrocities represent a paroxysm of violence that has long been building. The turning point was in 2005, when the worst riots in modern French history erupted in the poor, largely Muslim suburbs of Paris after the accidental deaths of two boys who had been running from the police. The unrest - or "French intifada" - crystallized a new consciousness among young French Muslims. Some have fallen prey to the allure of "war of civilizations" rhetoric in ways never imagined by their parents and grandparents.


This is the highly anticipated English edition of Kepel's sensational French bestseller, first published shortly after the Paris attacks. Now fully updated to reflect the latest developments and featuring a new introduction by the author, Terror in France reveals the truth about a virulent new wave of jihadism that has Europe as its main target. Its aim is to divide European societies from within by instilling fear, provoking backlash, and achieving the ISIS dream - shared by Europe's Far Right - of separating Europe's growing Muslim minority community from the rest of its citizens.

Preface to the English Edition ix
Paris, Saint-Denis, Friday, November 13, 2015 xiii
Prologue: From the March of the Beurs to Charlie and the Bataclan 1
PART I The Incubation Period: From Clichy to Sarkozy 9
1 2005, the Pivotal Year 11
The Double Trigger for the Riots 12
From Profanation to Blasphemy 16
The Epochal Change of French Islam 18
The Dialectic of Jihadism 22
Jihad’s First Terrains 27
The Prison Incubator 29
2 From Muslims Voting to the Muslim Vote 34
The “Muslim Vote” 41
Economic Crash and Identitarian Reactions 43
Soral and Islam against “American-Zionism” 49
The Beginnings of the Muslim Vote 53
Toward an Islamic Electoral Lobby 54
François Hollande’s Deceptive Victory 58
3 The Merah Affair in Context 64
The Retrocolonial Backlash 64
Artigat: From Hashish to Sharia 71
The Extension of Cyber-Jihad 78
Omar Omsen’s Grand Narrative 83
PART II The Eruption: From Hollande to Charlie and the Bataclan and Their Aftermath, 2012–2016 93
4 French Jihad, Syrian Jihad 97
Mehdi Nemmouche, Detainee and Jailer 98
“Oh, my brothers in Allah from France!” 103
The Lunel Paradigm 109
The Eschatology of Jihad and Psychological War 124
5 The Reversals of the Muslim Vote 135
The Rise in Unemployment and Inequality 136
From Social Despair to Authoritarian Conservatism 138
The Emergence of Traditionalist Islamic Groups 139
Secularism as an Irritant 141
Manifs pour Gaza and Jihad against the Jews 145
6 #CharlieCoulibaly 151
“May Allah curse France!” 156
To Be or Not to Be Charlie 170
Epilogue Between Kalash and Martel: The Nationalist Hammer and the Jihadist Anvil 186
Acknowledgments 199
Chronology of Events 201
List of Key People and Organizations 204
Index 207

"[Terror in France is] the most essential book to read about France today. . . . Gilles Kepel's important book is the best account we have of all the factors and events that helped create the current situation."

Mark Lilla, New York Review of Books  


"Fascinating, detailed accounts of how small towns have become hotbeds of radical Islamism make [Terror in France] appealing to readers beyond France seeking to understand homegrown jihadism."

Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, Financial Times
Gilles Kepel is professor of political science at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. His books include Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West, and Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam.