eurel     Sociological and legal data on religions in Europe and beyond
You are here : Home » France » Religions and society » Religious minorities

Religious minorities

General overview

This heading provides information on the social perception of religious groups in France. For further information concerning religious minorities in France, see the Social and religious data (...)

This heading provides information on the social perception of religious groups in France. For further information concerning religious minorities in France, see the Social and religious data heading.

  • Further information: see the Mineurel website of information on religious minorities, concerning France.

D 26 September 2012    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

Protestants

Based on data taken from a combination of studies carried out in June 2003 and November 2004, IFOP provides a certain amount of information regarding the sociology of Protestants in France. The (...)

Based on data taken from a combination of studies carried out in June 2003 and November 2004, IFOP provides a certain amount of information regarding the sociology of Protestants in France.
The Protestant minority no longer differs as much as it did in the past from the profile of Catholics or of the entire French population in terms of age, sex, type of conurbation or socio-professional category.
The percentage of Protestants in the executive, intermediate and intellectual professions is higher than among the entire French population or among Catholics. There is also a slight under-representation among the working classes. Aside from this, the difference is no longer very significant.
IFOP has attributed this evolution to the influence of evangelical movements that may have succeeded in widening the traditional basis of Protestantism by reaching a younger population.

For further information, see the geographical distribution of the Protestant minority.

Evangelicals

If everyone acknowledges the significant growth of Evangelical Protestant movements, opinions differ on their member numbers in France. Sébastien Fath estimates there to be 350,000 - even 395,000 if we include all foreign Evangelical churches. Nicolas Ciarapica takes up and details all aspects of this issue on a web page entitled “How many Evangelicals are there really in France?”

For further information, see: Sébastien FATH, Du ghetto au réseau : le protestantisme évangélique en France 1800-2005, Labor et Fides, 2005.

The Evangelical Gypsy Mission

In France today, there are 350,000 gypsies, all ethnic groups combined (Spanish, Romanian...). The majority are Catholic, but many of them converted to Protestantism after the 1950s.

The Evangelical Gypsy Mission, a movement bringing together Protestant gypsies, began in 1950 and in 1975 was renamed ’Light and life’. Today, it claims to have 110,000 members, 1,300 pastors and 200 fixed places of worship. In August 2005, the movement organized a convention that brought together about 20,000 gypsies near Pamiers (in Ariège). Further meetings were held every year, bringing together growing numbers of Protestant gypsies, up to 30,000 in 2012 at Couvron. The organizers find it however increasingly difficult to find a location ready to allow the meeting to take place.

D 26 September 2012    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

Jews

The Jewish community is the religious minority with the oldest presence in France. French Judaism has a pyramidal, centralised organisation; at its head is the Consistory (Consistoire), created (...)

The Jewish community is the religious minority with the oldest presence in France. French Judaism has a pyramidal, centralised organisation; at its head is the Consistory (Consistoire), created in 1808 by Napoleon in order to align the organisation of the Jewish faith along the Christian model. Fifteen regional presbyteries are each headed by a chief rabbi and have their own areas of competence. They elect members of the Central Consistory (Consistoire central), composed mostly of lay people, which manages various bodies such as the Jewish seminary or the rabbinical court. Today, however, it is far from representing all Jews: liberals, Conservative Judaism (Masorti), ultra-orthodox, ultra-liberal or non-Lubavitch Hasidic communities do not feel represented.
The results of a poll by the Unified Jewish Social Fund provide some information about the Jewish community, the religious minority with the oldest presence in France.
Just over a quarter of French Jews live in Paris, 30% in the Paris region. Almost all Jewish heads of household now have French nationality (96.34%). Among those born outside of France, many come from Algeria. 30% of Jewish households attend community events very regularly (once a month or more) - which shows an increase compared to only 22% in 1988. The percentage who never attend community events is in decline (18%). In most cases, attending community events means visiting the synagogue.
"Exogamy continues to grow among Jews in France", observe the authors of the survey. 69% of heads of household have a Jewish spouse, 1% spouses who have converted to Judaism and 30% a non-Jewish spouse. It should be noted that the percentage of mixed marriages rises to 40% among the under 30’s.
The Observatory of the Jewish World (observatoire du monde juif)aims to study and analyse the condition of Jewish communities and the problems they face in France and worldwide, both in terms of their specific existence and of their political, social and cultural environment". Several interesting cases can be found on their website. One of these deals with changes to the functions of rabbis (2003), another to the Jewish community and communitarianism (2004), finally another provides information about young French Jews (2005).
A survey Enquête auprès des juifs de France (Ifop, September 2015) reveals that Jews are many to claim having experienced hostility or agression: 63% hav already been insulted, 51% threatened, 43% assaulted. 93% of them think that Antisemitism exists in France. 51% of Jews seriously think about moving ot another country, and 19% of those very seriously consider it (against 10% of the French altogether). Among those who consider moving, 43% would be leaving for Israel.
Jews who have children of school age are 65% to have chosen a state educational institution, 25% a Catholic private educational institution, and 13% a Jewish one. Opting for a Jewish private educational institution is related to the level of religious practice: 25% of Jews claiming to be practicing chose a Jewish institution of their children, and 82% of non practicing Jews select a state educational institution.

D 7 January 2016    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

Muslims

It is difficult to define the number of Muslims in France. The commonly accepted number is 4 to 5 million people, that is, approximately 7% of the population. The Muslim population is (...)

It is difficult to define the number of Muslims in France. The commonly accepted number is 4 to 5 million people, that is, approximately 7% of the population. The Muslim population is predominantly made up of people from North Africa (2, 900, 000), 1, 550, 000 from Algeria, 1, 000, 000 from Morocco and 350, 000 from Tunisia, not counting the Harkis (Algerian soldiers who fought on the French side in the war of independence) whose descendents are French citizens (450, 000). Furthermore, there are also Muslims from Turkey (350, 000), Sub-Saharan Africa (250, 000), natives of Mayotte who are French citizens (124, 450) and people from the Middle East (100, 000).

The first arrival of Muslims officially dates back to 1870. It was due to military reasons (conflict between France and Germany then, more massively still, First World War in 1914-1918). It was a specific presence of colonial troops whose numbers remained inferior to 100, 000 people.
The beginning of the 1920s saw the start of economic immigration mainly linked to the rapid development of the building trade (reconstruction) and industry. Until the Second World War, most of immigrant labour was made up of Europeans.
During the "thirty glorious years" (1945-1974, a thirty-year period of economic boom after World War II) immigration from the Muslim world was massive, especially from North Africa, particularly Algeria (the number was multiplied by ten in thirty years). The Moroccans and the Turks immigrated massively in the 70s.
After 1974 the French government officially set about declaring the end of immigration. It launched a policy on financially-aided repatriation and more importantly a policy on family reunification which changed labour immigration into a type of immigration to repopulate France.

Since then the number of foreigners has remained stable. The number of Algerians progressed until 1982, and then decreased during the 90s while Moroccans and Turks continued to emigrate regularly throughout the same period.

Since November 1999, extensive consultation has been undertaken between the Ministry of the interior, national Islamic federations, regional mosques and several qualified Muslim figures. Its aim is to:
- draw up a list of problems that Muslims encounter in the everyday exercise of their religion and any potential solutions to these problems
- establish a federative organisation that represents Islam on a national level.
After a framework agreement was adopted in May 2001 by all of those who participated in this consultative process, it has been decided that, at the level of each region of France, elections would be held to chose regional delegates. These elections would take place in the worship centres; the number of people voting depending on the size of the mosque. These delegates would then elect the members of a Conseil Français du Culte Musulman, consultative organ representing the muslim denomination at a national level.
The election of the French Council on the Muslim Religion took place in April 2003.

According to the 1994 C.S.A. survey for L’Actualité religieuse dans le Monde, it seems that the overall image of Muslims in French society is improving (31% of French people are for the construction of mosques and 64% would not be against having a Muslim mayor elected in their town). At the same time, the perception of Islam remains blurry.

For more information, see:
- ZWILLING Anne-Laure, "France", in O. Scharbrodt et al. ed.), Yearbook of Muslims in Europe volume 8, Leiden, Brill, 2016, p. 254-284.
- GODARD Bernard, La question musulmane en France. Paris: Fayard, 2015.
- GOULET, Nathalie et André REICHARDT, De l’Islam en France à un Islam de France, établir la transparence et lever les ambiguïtés, mission d’information du Sénat "sur l’organisation, la place et le financement de l’Islam en France et de ses lieux de culte", Sénat, 5 juillet 2016.

D 4 September 2017    AFranck Frégosi

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

Follow us:
© 2002-2019 eurel - Contact