Gilles Kepel  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Gilles Kepel, (born June 30, 1955) is a French political scientist and Arabist, specialized in the contemporary Middle East and Muslims in the West. He is Professor at the Paris Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po) and director of the Middle East and Mediterranean Chair at Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL) Research University, based at Ecole Normale Supérieure. He has been described as “the best possible guide through the frightening labyrinth of militant Islam.”

Ideas and analyses

Kepel has made significant contributions to the understanding of Islam as an ideological, political, and social force, both in the Muslim world and within immigrant communities in the West. He has focused in particular on the fundamentalist phenomenon, showing that since the 1970s fundamentalism has been a crucial force throughout the world and across religions—among Protestants, Catholics, and Jews as well as Muslims. Fundamentalism is to a large extent a negative reaction to modernity, which it views as an external corruption that must be eradicated in order to return to an earlier age of religious purity.


  • The Prophet and Pharaoh, Paris, Le Seuil, [1984] (US : Muslim Extremism in Egypt, 1986)
  • Les banlieues de l'Islam. Naissance d'une religion en France, Paris, Le Seuil, [1987], 2nd edition 1991.
  • The revenge of God: The resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the modern world, Cambridge, Polity, 1994.
  • A l'ouest d'Allah, Paris, Le Seuil, [1994], 1996.
  • Allah in the West: Islamic movements in America and Europe, Oxford, Polity, 1997.
  • Chronique d'une guerre d'Orient, automne 2001. Brève chronique d'Israël et de Palestine', avril-mai 2001, Paris, Gallimard, 2002.
  • La Revanche de Dieu: Chrétiens, juifs et musulmans à la reconquête du monde, Paris, Le Seuil, [1991], 2003.
  • Jihad : expansion et déclin de l'islamisme, Paris, Gallimard, [2000], revised edition 2003.
  • Bad moon rising: A chronicle of the Middle East today, London, Saqi, 2003.
  • The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West, Cambridge, Mass / London, Belknap Press, 2004. — translation of Fitna. guerre au coeur de l'islam : essai, Paris, Gallimard, 2004.
  • Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, London, I.B. Tauris, 2004.
  • The roots of radical Islam, London, Saqi Books, 2005.
  • Du jihad à la fitna, Paris, Bayard / BNF, 2005.
  • G. Kepel and J-P Milelli (ed.), Al Qaeda in its own words, HUP, 2008.
  • Beyond terror and martyrdom: The future of the Middle East, Cambridge, Harvard Belknap Press, 2008.
  • Passion arabe, Paris, Gallimard, 2013
  • Passion française, Paris, Gallimard, 2014
  • Terror in France / The Rise of Jihad in the West (2017 – original French 2015)
  • La Fracture, co-édition Gallimard / France Culture, Paris 2016

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