After a moving and emotional response to the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November, time has come for reflection. The recent political violence in France and elsewhere raises big questions and asks for no other than big answers. To address these fundamental challenges, we met with Jean-François Bayart, a renowned Africanist who wrote extensively on the linkages between religion and politics. Connecting a wealth of topics such as French and European foreign policy, the debate on “moderate Islam”, the neoliberalisation of our societies, but also the issue of migration and security policy, Professor Bayart proposes an in-depth reading of the situation. Understanding any of these challenges, he argues, necessarily starts with historically rooting them in the long term.