Beyond the Veil?

Here at ArcU, I have been tracking the fate of Muslims in France amidst the resurgence of laïcité over the past few months in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings.  A recent article in the New York Times by Suzanne Daley and Alissa J. Rubin reports insightfully on the atmosphere created by France’s famous law banning veils passed over ten years ago.

More than 10 years after France passed its first anti-veil law restricting young girls from wearing veils in public schools, the head coverings of observant Muslim women, from colorful silk scarves to black chadors, have become one of the most potent flash points in the nation’s tense relations with its vibrant and growing Muslim population.

Mainstream politicians continue to push for new measures to deny veiled women access to jobs, educational institutions and community life. They often say they are doing so for the benefit of public order or in the name of laïcité, the French term for the separation of church and state . . ..

So far, France has passed two laws, one in 2004 banning veils in public elementary and secondary schools, and another, enacted in 2011, banning full face veils, which are worn by only a tiny portion of the population.

Lift the ban, not the veil.

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Daniel Philpott

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