Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Keisha McIntyre-McCullough

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Sarah Mathews

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Iqbal Akhtar

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


muslim, religion, france, charlie hebdo, identity, culture, education, laicite, postcolonial, critical race theory

Date of Defense



On January 7, 2015, the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in France, was attacked by two armed men, Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who shot and killed 12 staff members and injured another 11. The motive of the gunmen was the defense of their Muslim religion, in response to the newspaper’s history of publishing caricatures of the prophet Mohammed (AFP, 2015). This terrorist attack of January 7, 2015 continues to have a lasting impact on the lives of French people, most particularly French Muslims.

The purpose of this case study was to investigate the negotiation of Muslim youth identity in a post-Charlie Hebdo reality in the 19th arrondissement. This qualitative study also examined the effect of the attacks on educational policies. Research questions included 1) How do Muslim youth construct their cultural identity? 2) What is the impact of laïcité in the construction of Muslim youth identity? 3) How did the terrorist attacks impact Muslims’ lived experiences? And 4) How do the terrorist attacks impact educational policies? The present study was guided by a postcolonial and critical race theory lens. This qualitative study included eight participants purposely selected from the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Data were gathered from semi-structured interviews and document analysis.

Findings revealed the importance of both the French identity and the parents’ ethnic and religious background in the formation of the participants’ identity. Participants also expressed a sense of not totally belonging in either cultures as they experienced a process of otherization in France but also in their parents’ homeland. Findings also showed how laïcité instead of being a process of acculturation is a process of assimilation. Findings showed that documents and tools provided by the government are constructed around assimilationist ideologies and problematic views of Islam and Muslim youth, further marginalizing the Muslim community.





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