University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


In November of 2005, riots broke out throughout the housing projects located in the suburbs of the major cities of France. This focused worldwide attention on the largely Muslim immigrant communities in France, and on the failure of the French government to fully integrate individuals of foreign extraction, namely Beurs. The term "Beur" is the French word "Arabe" reversed by language called Verlan that plays on French in much the same way that Pig Latin plays on English. Today "Beur" refers to the children of North African immigrants living in France who are, for the most pan, isolated to the housing projects of the banlieue (suburbs). This article elaborates on what it is to be Beur through analysis of semi-autobiographical works by Beur authors, films focused on Beur characters, and newspaper and journal articles on the subject. In the media, Beurs have been portrayed as foreigners angry with France, and radical lslamists struggling against the West. However, these characterizations are not corroborated by primary sources. In reality, Beurs are trapped between two cultures, rejected by the French for their cultural background, and rejected by the first generation immigrants of their communities for abandoning traditions they have a hard time understanding, and acculturating to a more secular way of life within France.