Glossary of Terms

Alfred Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935) was a Jewish French military officer from the region of Alsace imprisoned in 1895 for sharing French military secrets with Germany, then a rival nation with whom France had suffered through the Franco-Prussian War. Though evidence emerged in coming years to show that someone else had committed the crime, the military suppressed this evidence and a scandal erupted that brought out the full ugliness of French anti-Semitism in the late 19th century.

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A banlieue is the term given for suburban areas surrounding French cities. While these suburbs represent populations of various socioeconomic strata, the term banlieue is often used to refer specifically to low income neighborhoods of immigrants and their descendants, which differs from an American conception of a suburb as a space of upward mobility.

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Buddhism in France

Though Buddhists make up less than 1% of the French population, the Buddhist community is represented by various ethnic groups with a French convert minority. The presence of Vietnamese and Cambodians Buddhists in France reflect the French colonization of those nations and the resultant cultural affinity, as well as refugee populations that arrived in France during the 1970s during the reign of the Khmer Rouge and during the Vietnam War. However, Chinese migrants represent the largest segment of French Buddhists.

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Catholicism in France

Catholicism is the majority religion in France, though small numbers—roughly 4.5% of Catholics—attend mass and overall, adherence to Catholicism is declining. Roman Catholicism was the state religion of France beginning with the conversion of King Clovis I (d. 511) until the French Revolution, when the Church’s relationship with the state was radically redefined.

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Islam in France

[[{"fid":"186181","view_mode":"default","type":"media","attributes":{"height":"221","width":"302","style":"float: left;","title":"Image Courtesy: Francisco Osorio","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Islam is the largest religious minority faith in France at approximately 9% of the population. Most Muslims in France today are immigrants or descend from immigrants from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, and smaller populations from Turkey and West Africa.

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Judaism in France

France has the largest Jewish population in Western Europe, at between 500,000 and 600,000 members. France also has a large population of Sephardic or Arab Jews, a result of a massive influx of Algerian Jews—who had been granted full French citizenship during the French colonization of Algeria—and substantial communities of other North Africans from Morocco and Egypt.

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Le Front National

Le Front National (FN, The National Front) is the third largest political power in France behind the Social Party and the Union for a Popular Movement, and represents far right nationalist sentiment, including economic protectionism and a strongly anti-immigrant stance (especially towards non-European immigrants).

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Protestant Christianity in France

Roughly 3% of the French are Protestant, and though a small minority, they are well represented in business and politics, particularly on the left. France’s history of Protestantism is best known for the emergence of the Huguenots in the 1520s, followers of the Protestant thinker John Calvin (d. 1564). Calvin was born in France but fled to Geneva in 1536, and continued to support the French Protestant community and send trained pastors to France.

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The Crémieux Decree

The Crémieux Decree was passed in Algeria in October 1870 granting French citizenship to Algerian Jews but not to Muslims, effectively dividing indigenous Algerians with a potent political wedge. The Decree transformed the structure of the Algerian Jewish community, which had prior been autonomous and self-governed by Jewish religious law. As French citizens, Algerian Jews were subject to secular French laws, which prompted some dissent among the Jewish community.

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