Combating hate speech, discrimination and religious intolerance through cooperation and civil society engagement

Apr 23, 2024

Citizens engagement

As partner of the Get The Trolls Out project, an initiative to combat discrimination and intolerance based on religious grounds in Europe, ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy – contributes in the perpetration of antisemitic and anti-religious speech, supporting diversity and inclusion.  

Together with the partners, we develop strategies and activities to counter intolerance and hate narratives, involving local entities and young people to disseminate positive messages and improve democratic construction.  

Would you like to learn more about the project and its path? Here, you can find an example of an article elaborated by the consortium of partners on the stigmatisation of Muslims in the French political discourse.

Islamo-leftism: How a catch-all word took over French political discourse

On 12 March, a group of pro-Gaza students blocked an amphitheatre in the prestigious Parisian university Science-Po. Towards the end of the demonstration, however, a student was reportedly prevented from entering the hall for being Jewish. Occupiers threw her out of the room shouting “Don’t let her in, she’s a Zionist.”

Besides the obviously antisemitic nature of this event, it was quickly taken over by populists to develop their rhetoric of hate.

Several right-wing figures, such as the far-right party Reconquête! leader Éric Zemmour or philosopher Michel Onfray called out the supposed collusion between Islamist ideas (linking, in a daring association, pro-Gaza demonstrations, islam, and terrorism) and left-leaning university students. 

Both Eric Zemmour and Michel Onfray denounced the “Islamo-leftism” at work in French universities. But what is Islamo-leftism? What does it mean, and can it be equated to an attack on muslim people? 

Let’s find out.

Islamo-leftism in the French political discourse

A neologism, islamo-leftism describes a perceived political alliance between the left political spectrum and Islamist movements. It is mostly — if not exclusively — used by right-leaning figures to discredit the left and its supposed collusion with radical islam ideas.

The term appeared in French political discourse after the first Islamic terrorist attacks in France in 2012, when far-right politician Marine Le Pen used it to describe a supposed alliance between “Islamic fanatics” and the French left.

Since then, it has been used by all sides of the political spectrum. Its usage has progressed in French political discourse in the last five years, notably from 2020, when former French education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer denounced it as an “ideology that then, far and away, leads to the worst.

A convenient catch-all word to discredit the left and stigmatise Muslims 

Most importantly, islamo-leftism is a manifestation of the usual anti-Islam trope of “islamisation” of Western societies. In this specific case, the perceived “invasion” of French society would be aided by the complacency of a certain part of the political class. 

But the most salient aspect of Islamo-leftism is its semantic void. As Professor Christian Delporte puts it: “Today, ‘islamo-leftist’ has become a buzzword. We don’t really know what it means anymore. All we know is that it’s insulting.” 

Therefore, the term is used — and abused — by the right’s political spectrum to discredit its opponents, accused of facilitating the decrepitude of French traditional values, another common theme of the populist right.

In conclusion, if using the term ‘islamo-leftism’ is not a frontal attack on islam, it still contains loaded assumptions about the religion and its believers — namely the islamisation of western societies and the cultural incompatibility of Islam with the western way of life.

As for the partners of the Get The Trolls Out project, we will closely monitor the phrase, and report it to the media and online platforms, in accordance with the law, should it be used for stigmatisation, call to violence or other religious-based hate speech.

1 Bouchet, A.. (12 March 2024). Une salle de Sciences Po Paris bloquée en soutien à Gaza, des étudiants juifs interdits d’entrer. Le Point



4 Ryan Y. (6 April 2012). French right focuses on ‘radical’ Muslims. Aljazeera

5 Le Nevé S. (23 October 2020), Polémique après les propos de Jean-Michel Blanquer sur « l’islamo-gauchisme » à l’université. Le Monde

6 A guide to islamophobic narratives. Get The Trolls Out

7 Houeix R. (25 January 2017). Qu’est-ce que cet “islamo-gauchisme” dont le camp Valls accuse Hamon ? France 24