Beyond the Paris Attacks: Unveiling the War within French Counterterror Policy

62 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2016 Last revised: 15 Mar 2017

Date Written: February 7, 2016


The Paris Attacks of November 13, 2015 left an indelible mark on France’s culture war with Islam. And are poised to permanently reform the identity of French counterterrorism policy. Since the Jacques Chirac Administration, the state has maintained a hardline cultural assimilation campaign as the foundation of its counterterror program. This campaign culminated in 2004 with the “Headscarf Ban,” and six years later under President Nicolas Sarkozy, the enactment of the “Face Concealment Ban.”

The fluidly emerging threat of “homegrown radicalization” shifted the state’s focus to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Policing in 2012. This counterterror approach, employed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European states, is facilitated by building inroads within Muslim communities and developing the social capital within them to enhance on-site monitoring, electronic surveillance, and symbiotic collaboration as the primary fulcrum of policing and preventing radicalization. The hardline cultural assimilation approach, however, undermines advancement of these vital CVE Policing goals, and ultimately, curbs its effectiveness.

First, this Article analyzes the strategic tensions between the cultural assimilation counterterror philosophy championed by Chirac and Sarkozy, and the emergent CVE Policing paradigm. Second, it proposes that the state’s interest in advancing stated counterterror goals requires retrenchment of hardline cultural assimilation policies, including most notably, dissolution of the Headscarf and Face Concealment Bans as a vital step toward implementing a sustainable and effective CVE Policing program.

Suggested Citation

Beydoun, Khaled, Beyond the Paris Attacks: Unveiling the War within French Counterterror Policy (February 7, 2016). American University Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Khaled Beydoun (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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