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Policy Brief

Jihadists’ Grievance Narratives against France

23 Feb 2018
Policy Brief by Laurence Bindner

France ranks first in the EU as a provider of foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq, and as the most-targeted European country in the context of the Syrian-Iraqi conflict. France has a longstanding history related to jihadism, correlated with multiple grievances from jihadist groups: it has been depicted as an enemy of Islam because of its foreign policy, its domestic policy towards religion, and, last but not least, its very essence. These grievances have been conveyed, like the baton of a relay race, from the first generations of North-African Islamist networks and the “elder brothers of jihad” to contemporary jihadists. The French jihadist media ecosystem has been instrumental in attracting a particularly large contemporary following. From the French perspective, a range of social, cultural, religious, economic, political, demographic drivers and identity factors converged to create a fertile ground for receptive radicals to emerge and break away from democratic values. Informed by these issues, this Policy Brief aims to identify avenues of further development for the French counter-terrorism strategic communication strategy. It concludes by stressing the need for this communication strategy to strive for positive, alternative messaging to re-create a continuum between individuals in the jihadist milieu and France as a nation state.