Recently, New Directions in the Study of Prayer grantee Fareen Parvez wrote for the Council for European Studies’ CritCom on the experience of Salafi Muslim women in France, particularly in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. Lyon, where Parvez did her fieldwork, has been a center for political satire since the early 1800s and the rise of the famous puppet character Guignol. Parvez draws a distinction between Guignol and other satirical works that targeted privileged classes (including Catholics) and more recent satire that has targeted underprivileged minorities, like French Muslims. She offers the example of Salafi Muslim women in Lyon, who are prevented from taking part in public life, due in large part to the discrimination they face since laws banning headscarves and burqas were passed over the last decade. With this historical context in mind, Parvez problematizes the popular expression of solidarity, “Je suis Charlie”:
[T]he implications of the slogan “je suis Charlie” are not as straightforward as they are made to appear. To say “je suis Charlie” is not only to denounce the killings and express one’s sympathy with the victims and their societies. It is not only to show one’s support for protected speech and the use of satire. Rather, it simultaneously has the effect of dismissing and invalidating the persistent reality of aggression, harassment, and political and economic exclusions that have been plaguing French Muslims, especially women among the unemployed working-class. Furthermore, it ignores the history of satire and perverts its logic by prodding and provoking those without social power—those who are excluded from public space and denied various dignities of citizenship.
You can read the full article here.