Political Secularism and Muslim Integration in the West: Assessing the Effects of the French Headscarf Ban (with Vasiliki Fouka). American Political Science Review. 2020.

In response to rising immigration flows and the fear of Islamic radicalization, several Western countries have enacted policies to restrict religious expression and emphasize secularism and Western values. Despite intense public debate, there is little systematic evidence on how such policies influence the behavior of the religious minorities they target. In this paper, we use rich quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the effects of the 2004 French headscarf ban on the socioeconomic integration of French Muslim women. We find that the law reduces the secondary educational attainment of Muslim girls and affects their trajectory in the labor market and family composition in the long run. We provide evidence that the ban operates through increased perceptions of discrimination and that it strengthens both national and religious identities.

Working Papers

Perceived Discrimination and Adolescent Muslim Integration: Evidence from European Countries (with Vasiliki Fouka)

Prior research has identified discrimination as an impediment to Muslim integration in the West. Yet it is not clear whether integration is inhibited directly due to exclusionary actions of majority populations, or also due to increased disengagement on the part of Muslims. In this paper, we contribute to our understanding of this question by examining the impact of societal stigmatization on Muslim integration in the United Kingdom, with additional analysis of Germany and Sweden. We combine measures of anti-Muslim hate crimes and data from a longitudinal survey of children of immigrants to study the differential effect of group-level targeting on Muslim adolescents. We find that exposure to anti-Muslim hate crimes increases assimilation behavior and attitudes among Muslims in the UK. Analysis of Germany and Sweden provide consistent, though more muted, results. Our findings suggest that group-level discrimination informs Muslims of their group’s status and of their own likelihood of individual-level victimization. An assimilation response may then be a strategy for avoiding future discrimination by disassociating from the stigmatized group.

Arab Missionary Roots of Islamic Fundamentalism in Africa

Over the last fifty years, Islamic fundamentalism, marked by scripturalism and an emphasis on purification of Islamic customs, has emerged in sub-Saharan Africa. Motivated by this seismic transformation, this paper examines how and why Islamic fundamentalism emerged in African countries. This paper develops a unified conceptual framework that links Arab missionary activity to religious transformations in sub-Saharan Africa. I theorize about how foreign training, Arab recruitment of Africans for study in Islamic educational institutions in Arab countries, has served as a key channel for the diffusion of conservative ideas from the Arab world into African countries. Using original data, I employ cross-sectional and fixed effects regressions paired with a subnational study of Sudan’s early Islamic movement. I find evidence that greater foreign training is associated with higher likelihood that a fundamentalist group emerges and more conservative groups. These results provide new insight into the emergence of conservative Islam in Africa.

Works in Progress

Historical and Institutional Roots of Immigrant Integration (with Vasiliki Fouka)

European Consolidation and Divergent Assimilation of Muslims and non-Muslims

Fighting for a Nation: Long-run effects of French Colonial Military Recruitment in North Africa (with Alexandra Blackman)