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Slimani argues that French media’s continuous conflation of ‘islamist’ and ‘terrorist’ is dangerous and islamophobic.

Renowned French-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani is not happy with France’s gradual descent into islamophobia and context-free generalizations when discussing Islam and Muslims.

Appearing on Clique, a popular French television show, to discuss the recent Le Pen vs. Darmanin debate on counterterrorism in France, the writer said she was disappointed that the two politicians appeared to equate Islamism with terrorism. 

The two  politicians inconsiderately and interchangeably used the words “Islamist” and “terrorist” without taking a pause to explain the difference between the two terms, Slimani charged. 

She argued that the continuous confusion between ‘islamist’ and ‘terrorist’ is dangerous and islamophobic. “This obsession with religion makes me very angry and very uncomfortable,” she expressed. 


Conflating Islam with terrorsim is commonplace in France’s mainstream media narrative. In an attempt to explain  the misconception, Slimani brought up the Moroccan government by calling it islamist. “The Moroccan Prime Minister is an Islamist,” she exclaimed, “but that does not make him a terrorist.” 

She also mentioned that a number of Arab countries have islamist governments. She clarified that although she disagrees with their agendas, she would not refer to them as terrorists. “What exactly is wrong with Islamist parties ruling? Isn’t it a political option like any other?” she asked. 

Slimani criticized the confusion between conservatism and fundamentalism as well. She distinguished between her dislike of fundamentalists of any kind and her disagreement with conservatives from any religion. 

France’s far-right supporters were not pleased with her intervention and the talk show host’s silence. Many tweets are calling her statement “dangerous” and the host “naive” for tolerating such speech. 

The French government is currently debating how to effectively counter terrorism. Some of the government’s measures to curb the spread of “extremist ideologies”  include the restriction of homeschooling and the intensive surveillance of Islamic associations. Critics have pointed out that most of the decisions have islamophobic undertones and specifically target and oppress Muslim minorities. 

This is not the first time Leila Slimani has spoken out against Islamophobia. In 2020, she denounced the harassment Muslims in France are subject to. She especially criticized the spread of online hate speech


Source: Morocco World News