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. The “Dreyfus Affair” split French society between pro- and anti-“Dreyfusards,” and ultimately resulted in Read more about Alfred Dreyfus

Banlieue

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. These low-income neighborhoods are subject to high levels of unemployment, high crime, poor educational completion rates, high drug use, and reports of heightened security surveillance and control, where tensions have Read more about Banlieue

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. Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism are the most common traditions practiced in Read more about Buddhism in France

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.

The close connection between the French monarchy and the Catholic Church began during the reign of Charlemagne (d. 814), who was the first to receive a papal coronation in the year 800. Through the coming centuries, the Read more about Catholicism in France

Christianity in France

Christianity is the dominant religious faith in France making up between 65% and 88% of the population, represented primarily by Catholicism but with a long tradition of French Protestantism. However, a variety of other Christian traditions are present, albeit in small communities, including Anglicans, Orthodox Christians, Pentecostals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, adopted August 26, 1789) is an expression of universal human rights—those rights that are true at all times and in all places—that served as one of the foundational documents of the French Revolution. It lists seventeen points including those expressing equality between all men, equality of rights, the relationship of political identity to the state and the source of state power being located in the collective, the preservation of rights such as liberty and property, Read more about Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

Islam in France

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 Read more about Islam in France

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.

The Jewish community has been a small but important part of French society since prior to the French Revolution. Jews, seeking greater political Read more about Judaism in France

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). The FN was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Catholic social conservative and veteran of the Algerian War who sought to bring together multiple right wing movements under a single umbrella. The Read more about Le Front National

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.

Tensions between growing numbers of Protestants and Catholics in the Read more about Protestant Christianity in France

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. French colonists and colonial leaders in Algeria did not themselves accept the Jews as fellow citizens, and expressed a Read more about The Crémieux Decree

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