Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Hans Buechler

Second Advisor

Audie Klotz


France, Mosque, Multiculturalism, Muslim youth, Place-making, Secularism

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation explores the ways in which secularism communicates with Islam both as a socio-political concept and as daily practice in the context of France. Most studies examine this process through the uses of the headscarf or within the framework of terrorism. This study suggests a fresh perspective by using an experimental spatial analysis with a focus on the major mosques and the practices of mosque congregants. It poses the question how French Muslims reconcile French secularism (laïcité) with Islam through the use of the mosque space. In this respect, mosques are transformed into alternative multicultural spaces where the secular and Islamic are given new meanings and negotiated by Muslims. I argue that the primary actors of this transformation are young Muslims with a dynamic and innovative approach to contextual interpretations of secular and Islamic practices. In this respect, they differ from their conservative counterparts who are bound to the Islamic teachings in Muslim countries regardless

of their relevancy. This study concludes that young French Muslims have been undergoing a change from within, and its effects in the wider society are yet to be observed amidst the escalating negative views against Muslims in the West.


Open Access