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Posts Tagged ‘hijab’

France, French Identity and the Burqa: Gerin Report Due in January

November 9, 2009 2 comments

Etre français aujourd'hui...c'est se cacher derrière son petit doigt (ou sa burqa tricolore) en refusant obstinément, sous divers prétextes, de se poser la question." - Robert Sole, Le Monde 27/10/2009

As news comes that France will  follow Britain’s lead in launching a ‘national identity’ project, I am reminded to check in on the country’s latest foray into the regulation of Muslim women’s dress: the National Assembly’s Mission d’information sur la pratique du port du voile integral sur le territoire nationale. The mission was created on June 23rd at the instance of André Gerin – with the support of a number of right wing deputies –  and met in July, September and October of this year.  The hearings will finish in December and the final conclusions should be available in January. Transcripts of the sessions of the mission so far are available here and videos of the sessions are here.  The transcripts of the mission’s hearings – which include testimony from hospital professionals, mosque representatives, feminist groups, mayors, philosophers, anthropologists, historians and others – certainly make for interesting reading.  The main points are summarised after the jump.

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A Primer on ‘Hijab Debate 2009’.

September 9, 2009 6 comments


The garments.

The beginning of the new school year is as good a time as any to take stock of Europe’s seemingly boundless obsession with Muslim women’s dress. I blogged on the hijab in Ireland’s schools for the CCJHR blog in June of last year. Since then, RTE has produced a radio documentary about Shekinah Egan, whose case sparked Irish engagement with this issue.

When I talk about Muslim women’s dress, I have in mind a number of  types of garment which cover the face and body to varying degrees. They are displayed and labelled in the picture on the right, adapted from the BBC website.  The European debates have revolved around the permissibilty of restrictions on this broad class of dress. Even as it becomes a visible part of European popular culture and lived multiculturalism;  in rap music, art and sport, ‘the veil’ excites ever more exclusionary policy-making. This post is intended as an entry level guide to current debates and is confined to a selection of the most important ‘hijab’ stories which have been reported since January. Rather than getting into my own analysis  (or indeed, into the law or the voluminous academic commentary) in any detail in this post, I wanted to write a ‘basics’ post now which will introduce readers to the topic and ground my later contributions.

The European engagement with Islamic dress can be understood in terms of four broad themes: the what, who, where and why of restrictions on Muslim women’s dress.

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