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Encyclopedia > Islamic veil controversy in France

Referred to in France as l'affaire du voile (the veil affair), l'affaire du voile islamique (the Islamic veil affair), and l'affaire du foulard (the scarf affair) among other bynames, the controversy over Islamic women's clothing has rocked France since the mid-1990s, especially pertaining to the wearing of the veil in French public schools. The debate raises questions as to: Illustration of an Islamic headscarf Hijab or ħijāb () is the Arabic term for cover (noun), based on the root حجب meaning to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter In some Arabic-speaking countries and Western countries, the word hijab primarily refers to womens head and body covering... Schoolsystem in France The French educational system is highly centralised, organised, and ramified. ...

This article is intended to give a synopsis of this controversy, starting from l'affaire du voile and the vote on laïcité (secularity) in France to the present, and the arguments of the different parties involved. There is also a collection of Hadith called Sahih Muslim A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم, Persian: Mosalman or Mosalmon Urdu: مسلمان, Turkish: Müslüman, Albanian: Mysliman, Bosnian: Musliman) is an adherent of the religion of Islam. ... Political Ideologies Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Communitarianism as a group of related but distinct philosophies began in the late 20th century, opposing radical individualism, and other similar philosophies while advocating phenomena such as civil society. ... Cultural assimilation (often called merely assimilation) is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are absorbed into an established, generally larger community. ... There is also a collection of Hadith called Sahih Muslim A Muslim (Arabic: مسلم, Persian: Mosalman or Mosalmon Urdu: مسلمان, Turkish: Müslüman, Albanian: Mysliman, Bosnian: Musliman) is an adherent of the religion of Islam. ... Languages Arabic other languages (Arab minorities) Religions Predominantly Islam Some adherents of Druze, Judaism, Samaritan, Christianity Related ethnic groups Jews, Canaanites, other Semitic-speaking groups An Arab (Arabic: ); is a member of a Semitic group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to the... The Algerian bay (view from the west). ... Islamism is a political ideology derived from the conservative religious views of Muslim fundamentalism. ... Manifestations Slavery · Racial profiling · Lynching Hate speech · Hate crime · Hate groups Genocide · Holocaust · Pogrom Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing · Race war Religious persecution · Gay bashing Movements Discriminatory Aryanism · Neo-Nazism · Supremacism Kahanism Anti-discriminatory Abolitionism · Civil rights · Gay rights Womens/Universal suffrage · Mens rights Childrens rights · Youth rights Disability... Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church, in Aups (Var département) which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. ... This article concerns secularity, that is, being secular, in various senses. ...


The veil affair

The controversy overthe Islamic veil sparked in October, 1989, when three female students were suspended for refusing to remove their veils in class at Gabriel Havez Middle School in Creil, France. In November, 1989, the Conseil d'État ruled that the veil qua religious expression was compatible with the laïcité (secularity) of public schools. That December, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin issued a statement declaring that educators had the responsibility of accepting or refusing the wearing of the veil in classes on a case-by-case basis. 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The CREIL (Coherent Raman Effect on Incoherent Light) is a radiation transfer of ordinary incoherent light. ... In France, the Conseil dÉtat (English: Council of State and sometimes Counsel of State) is an organ of the French national government. ... Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church, in Aups (Var département) which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. ... This article concerns secularity, that is, being secular, in various senses. ... A prime minister is the very most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... Lionel Robert Jospin (born July 12, 1937 in Meudon, a suburb of Paris) is a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France from 1997-2002. ...

In January, 1990, three girls were suspended from Pasteur Middle School in Noyon, a banlieue north of Paris. Parents of one of the girls previously suspended from Gabriel Havez filed a defamation suit against its principal. Following these events, teachers at a middle school in Nantua held a general strike in protest against the veil in school. A second government statement reiterated the need to respect the principle of secularity in public schools. MCMXC redirects here; for the Enigma album, see MCMXC a. ... Noyon is a small but historic French city in the Oise département, Picardie, on the Oise Canal, approximately 60 miles north of Paris. ... Banlieue is the French word for outskirts. ... Nantua is a commune of France, in the Ain département, of which it is a sous-préfecture. ...

In September, 1994, a new memorandum, the "François Bayrou memo" was issued, delineating the difference between "discreet" religious symbols able to be brought into classrooms, and "ostentatious" religious symbols (including the Islamic veil), which were to be forbidden in public establishments. In October of that year, students at St. Exupéry High School in Mantes-la-Jolie organized a demonstration of protest in favor of the right to wear the veil in classrooms. In November, 24 veiled students were suspended from the same high school as well as from Faidherbe High in Lille. 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... Mantes-la-Jolie or Mantes or Mantes-sur-Seine is a commune of northern France, the capital of an arrondissement (sous-préfecture) and the third largest town in the département of Yvelines on the left bank of the Seine, some 30 miles north west of Paris. ... New city flag Traditional coat of arms Motto: – Location Coordinates Time Zone CET (GMT +1) Administration Country France Region Nord-Pas de Calais Department Nord (59) Intercommunality Urban Community of Lille Métropole Mayor Martine Aubry  (PS) (since 2001) City Statistics Land area¹ 39. ...

From 1994 to 2003, around 100 female students have been suspended or expelled from middle and high schools for wearing the veil in class. In nearly half of these cases, their exclusions were annulled by the French courts. 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Political and cultural context

Political positions

The most debated point is over whether or not students have the right to wear the veil in classes in public establishments such as primary and secondary schools, as well as universities. Meanwhile, the controversy has contributed to discussions of the principle of secularism, which is the foundation of the 1905 law of separation of church and state in France. The two principal positions that have emerged are:

  • a complete preservation of the principle of laïcité, considered an element of freedom. This is the position taken most notably by Jacques Chirac as well as by certain leftists as Jean-Pierre Chevènement.
  • an abandonment of the principle of secularity for the benefit of total religious freedom, and for the recognition of religious communities. This Anglo-Saxon-based community model is defended most notably by Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as some leftists and certain Greens.

This debate has thus contributed in blurring the limits between the left and right on the traditional spectrum in France, and has revealed divergences on new political levels, especially between "republicans" (proponents of intervention by the secular Republic) and the "liberals" (in an older sense of the French term referring to those who support the liberties of the individual). Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church, in Aups (Var département) which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. ... Jacques René Chirac (born November 29, 1932) has served as the Gaullist President of France since he was first elected in 1995. ... Jean-Pierre Chevènement Jean-Pierre Chevènement (born March 9, 1939 in Belfort) is a French politician. ... Nicolas Sarkozy in April 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy   (born Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa on 28 January 1955 in Paris, France), is a French politician, and the head of the centre-right party UMP, the French conservative party. ... Les Verts (or The Greens) are an ecologist political party to the left of the political spectrum in France. ...

The tradition of the Islamic veil in the Muslim world

Many Muslims believe the Quran compels women to wear the veil outside the home and among those outside the family circle. The validity of such beliefs is discussed widely in the Muslim world [1]. The tradition of the veil itself has been in existence since before the advent of Islam. The obligation for Muslim women to cover their heads was made part of Islamic law during the life of Muhammad, and this legislation spread via Islam to different areas of the world. The Quran (Arabic al-qurʾān أَلْقُرآن; also transliterated as Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... Sharia (Arabic شريعة also Sharia, Shariah or Syariah) is traditional Islamic law. ...

In traditional Muslim societies, an un-veiled woman may be construed as trying to seduce others, and therefore unworthy of respect. The importance assigned to this head covering varies, from that of colorful head scarves that conceal almost no hair in sub-Saharan Africa, to the extent that it should cover all hair, and often parts of the face, in the form of a singular piece of cloth (Yemen). In some regions of the Persian Gulf, the entire body, including hands, must be covered by the veil (burqa), as is the case in some areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, despite the Qur'an explicitly stating that hands and face should remain uncovered, and be decorated. Map of the Persian Gulf. ... Woman in an Afghan burqa A burqa (also burkha, burka or burqua) is an all-enveloping outer garment worn by most women in Afghanistan, and many in India and Pakistan. ...

In modernized Muslim societies, this obligation may be partially or even totally lifted, particularly where such an obligation is not legally enforced. In Egypt and Turkey, for example, wearing the veil is actually forbidden in certain professional contexts. In reality, un-veiled Muslim women are quite a normal sight in cities such as Istanbul and Rabat. On the other hand, the obligation is legally enforced in certain countries such as Iran, and those who violate such laws are legally culpable for their dress. Many societies in the Muslim world take a more tolerant approach to the veil, such that it is worn more often by older generations, with the younger women free to dress in Western clothing should they so choose, reserving the traditional garb for ceremonial use. Istanbul (Turkish: , Greek: , historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see other names) is Turkeys most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. ... Mausoleum of Mohammed V through mosque ruins NASA image of Rabat Rabat (Arabic الرباط, transliterated ar-Rabāṭ or ar-Ribāṭ), population 1. ...

Motivations of French Muslims who wear the veil

Muslim women in France are the party most directly concerned with the laws concerning the veil.

The wearing of the veil or hijab in France, and in the main countries of origin of French Muslims (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey), is a relatively recent phenomenon that is at its core a general movement toward the traditional values of communities in and from these countries. Movements of this kind are not limited to the Muslim world, and can be observed in many different cultures, including those of the West.

This phenomenon has been coined "the new veiling" by A.E. Mac Leod. This model does not always materialize perfectly or uniformly according to orthodox tradition; the veils of Muslim Frenchwomen tend to be less austere in their use of color and material.

Other perhaps more specifically France-centered arguments were voiced at the time of this controversy in order to justify students' wearing of the veil in public schools:

  • "Respectability" and "discretion." News, movies, and music aimed at young men often contain stereotypical "easy girl" characters who are sexually taken at will and who are always un-veiled [2]. This leads many to entertain the idea that women who show their hair are not respectable and are offered (or are offering themselves) sexually to everyone. More generally, advertising and the media present a standard model of how Western women may be assumed to be. This vision of Western women offered by media may lead French Muslim women to wear the veil to affirm their respectability and, paradoxically, their independence in respect to their families [3]. Some veiled women, while very independent, are using the traditional argument for discretion in order to insist on their right to wear the veil at school. [4]
  • Muslim identity in the face of what is considered French racism against Muslims.[5] Wearing the veil is also a way for French Muslim women to guard their identity against racism they perceive in French society. People may see the existence of the controversy itself as a manifestation of such racism.

There also exists a notable minority of French non-Muslims who have expressed support for the right to wear the veil in public schools.[6]

Motivations of French Muslims who refuse to wear the veil

Muslim women who refuse to wear the veil remark that they resent the fact that they are often being pressured to wear veil. They also remarked that in gatherings such as French language courses and cultural and social events, the arrival of a veiled woman brings about the immediate cessation of spontaneous chatting and laughter, replacing them with tension and a wall of silence. Some argue that it reflects the strength of the repressive connotations associated with the veil, while others counter that it reflects some people's refusal to acknowledge diversity of religious belief, including Islam.

Motivations of French people opposed to allowing the veil to be worn in schools

  • Feminist arguments

According to numerous feminist groups, and also according to some more general human rights advocacy groups, wearing the veil symbolizes a woman's submission to men, even though it states in the Qur'an a prescribed area that men also must veil (from above the navel to below the knee).[7] It is believed that permitting the veil in schools risks opening the door to other practices that exist in the Muslim world, and which pose even more of a handicap for women[8]

It is often rejected that forbidding the veil would limit freedom. Rather, it is argued that the veil is not a free choice, but a result of social pressures (ie, if a law does not forbid the practice of wearing the veil, social pressure may render it obligatory). Ironically, a counter-argument to this is that Western clothing is a symbol of submission to men, as the social pressures for young women to dress seductively is equally strong.[9]

Certain individuals and associations consider the veil to be a symbol of belonging to the Muslim community. According to this line of reasoning, women who wear the veil display their religious and community affiliation, which harms the unity and laïcité of the French Republic.[10] The position of the French government is that laïcité in schools is incompatible with wearing ostentatious religious articles, whatever they be. However, in December, 2003, President Jacques Chirac extended this policy for all public secondary education establishments, risking fanning the tensions between communities within the multicultural French society. France is home to both the largest Jewish and Muslim minorities in Western Europe. Motto of the French republic on the tympanum of a church, in Aups (Var département) which was installed after the 1905 law on the Separation of the State and the Church. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Jacques René Chirac (born November 29, 1932) has served as the Gaullist President of France since he was first elected in 1995. ...

  • Strong opposition to the veil among educators

A strong majority[11] of French educators opposes the veil in general, and particularly in classes. The arguments put forward are connected to both laïcité and feminist arguments, a majority of French educators being women.

  • A majority of French people, according to a survey conducted in the last four months of 2003,[12] responded that they would be in favor of a law forbidding the veil in schools.

Motivations of French people who do not oppose the veil

According to the same surveys,[12] between 30% and 40% of the French do not want a law forbidding the veil in schools. Many individuals and organizations have been opposed to the idea of a law forbidding the veil since it was first proposed. Their arguments are detailed in the section #Arguments by those opposed to the law of laïcité.

At the forefront of non-Muslim French who support the right to wear the veil in schools is the feminist collective "Les Blédardes" who see the controversy over the veil as a manifestation of colonialist sentiments [6]"

A third interpretation of the principle of secularity based on its original formulation recalls that, according to the law, "all are equal to show and express their religious opinions in public as well as in private," and that the French state has the responsibility to guarantee access to free, public education to all Frenchmen.

The role of mentality

Above the previous arguments made by various parties over the law of laïcism, the controversy over the veil in France may also be explained by lack of cultural understanding.

Endogamy, exogamy

Demographer Emmanuel Todd has advanced a sociological explanation for the controversy over the veil by examining traditional familial structures in France and in the countries of origin of French Muslims. Emmanuel Todd is a historian and political scientist at the National Institute for Demographics, in Paris. ...

According to him, if Muslims impose the veil on their children, it serves to prevent them from meeting and eventually marrying non-Muslims. This preemption of mixed marriage would correspond to endogamous practices very present in many traditional Muslim societies, where it is acceptable to marry cousins in order to maintain the unity of the clan. Todd speaks of a "endogamous, community-based family." Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a social group. ... A clan is a group of people united by kinship and descent, which is defined by perceived descent from a common ancestor. ...

The traditional French family would be, on the other hand, exogamous. Traditionally, young French men sought wives outside their villages. This tradition recalls images of Greco-Roman mythology and folk-tales in which a man travels far and wide to find a wife. Sometimes this is in order to save her (as in the cases of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty), and other times it is simply a jaunt for the purposes of kidnapping a woman and stealing her away (Zeuse and Europa), but they always live "happily ever after (and have many children)." This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... Snow White in her coffin, Theodor Hosemann, 1867. ... Sir Edward Burne-Jones painted The Sleeping Beauty. ...

The veil is seen on a subconscious level as a refusal to marry, as a code which says, "I will never be a part of your family." Its prohibition would mean the suppression of this opposition to mixed marriage, a kind of marriage which is more widespread in France than in most other Western countries. One possible conclusion of this line of thinking would be to prohibit wearing any distinctive signs of religious or ethnic origin of people, particularly for women, living in French territory. In multicultural countries where the veil is more widely accepted (UK, USA), the rate of mixed marriages is far lower.

Allusions to past conflicts between France & the Catholic Church

There is yet another possible interpretation. Veiled Muslim women would remind militant anticlericals of religious Christians. In their view, the veils of nuns, who were chased out of public French schools following the guerres scolaires that had a profound effect on French history in the 19th century, would return to schools in another form, on the heads of students. The veil, for these people, would carry negative connotations associated with the Catholic Church in France, its alliance with the royal system against the peasantry, and its will to influence the politics and morals of France. This would explain the virulence of the opponents to the veil and the fact that this controversy is specifically French; the veil has encountered more opposition in France than in other parts of Europe. On the other hand, proponents of the law believe that French Muslims, born in France and enrolled in its schools after this period, would not be apt to see veil in this context, least of all in a manner that would be intentionally provocative toward their teachers and community.

The law and its application

The vote

In December 2003, President Jacques Chirac decided that a law should explicitly forbid any visible sign of religious affiliation, in the spirit of laïcité. The secularity law, sometimes referred to as "the veil law", was voted in by the French parliament in March 2004. It forbids the wearing of any "ostensible" religious articles, including the Islamic veil, the Jewish kippa, and large Christian crosses. The law permits discreet signs of faith, such as small crosses, Stars of David, and hands of Fatima. This parallels laws in Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Turkey, which also ban the Islamic veil in their public schools. Jacques René Chirac (born November 29, 1932) has served as the Gaullist President of France since he was first elected in 1995. ... The French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools bans wearing conspicuous religious symbols in French public (i. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A yarmulke (Yiddish יאַרמלקע yarmlke) or Kippah (Hebrew כִּפָּה kippāh, plural kippot) is a thin, usually slightly rounded cloth cap worn by Jews. ... The Star of David The Star of David in the oldest surviving complete copy of the Masoretic text, the Leningrad Codex, dated 1008. ... Khamsa used as a pendant The Khamsa (Arabic: ‎, literally five, Hebrew: ). An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima or Eye of Fatima, in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Muhammed. ...


In many cases, the exact extent of possible application of the law is hard to ascertain, and has led to further complications:

Is the law applicable to something other than the Islamic veil which covers the hair, such as a bandana, which does not outwardly indicate religious affiliation? In principle, the law does not forbid bandanas, although many schools have banned any head covering, including bandanas.

And would veiled parents be able to enter their children's schools? Former education minister François Fillon has stated that the law does not apply whatsoever to the parents of students. The Mediator of the Republic has agreed with this stance. However, in many cities, especially where integration of large numbers of Muslims is an acute problem such as Montreuil in Seine-Saint-Denis, veiled parents are frequently denied entry. In May 2005 the mother of a student was denied permission to run a stand at her son's school festival. After much publicity, the interdiction was lifted. François Fillon (born March 4, 1954) is a French politician. ... Montreuil is the name of several communes of France: Montreuil, in the Eure-et-Loir département Montreuil, or Montreuil-sur-Mer, in the Pas-de-Calais département Montreuil, or Montreuil-sous-Bois, in the Seine-Saint-Denis département Montreuil, in the Vendée département It is... Seine-Saint-Denis is a French département located in the ÃŽle-de-France région. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Is the law forbidding the veil in junior high schools and high schools applicable in universities as well? There is no clear answer so far. In some universities such as Villetaneuse in Seine-Saint-Denis, students have never been allowed to attend classes while veiled, while others, such as Créteil, have accepted the veil in classes. Villetaneuse is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. ... Seine-Saint-Denis is a French département located in the ÃŽle-de-France région. ... Créteil is a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, France. ...

Other situations

In public hospitals, employees are expected to respect the principle of laïcité. In nursing schools, interviews are an officious requirement for entry, and are relevant to the Muslim veil. Applicants may be asked if they are willing to remove their veil either altogether or for the purpose of wearing a disposable nurse's cap, such as those worn in operating rooms. Nursing is a profession focused on assisting individuals, families, and communities in attaining, re-attaining, and maintaining optimal health and functioning. ...

As far as patients are concerned, the rule is to respect religious preferences. In particular, Muslim women may choose to be seen by a female physician, rather than a male (althought the Qur'an does not forbid it), except in the case of an emergency. In this case, care is administered by the doctor on duty, male or female (testimonials in le Figaro.

Controversies over a law

The decision to legislate over wearing the veil in schools, the setting up of the Stasi Commission to investigate the need for such a law, the voting in of the law of laïcité, and its subsequent application have been welcomed in extremely varied ways. The French commission Stasi is a commission set up to reflect upon the application of the laïcité principle. ...

Arguments of those opposed to the law of laïcité

  • Freedom of religion: forbidding Muslims to wear the Muslim veil to schools is interpreted as an attempt on the part of the authorities to impose their anti-religious views. This argument has been put forward by different Islamic authorities and organizations,[13] and fuses in part the argument that this law is a form of segregation or discrimination. It has been pointed out that in France, Christianity benefits from multiple advantages (vacations and public holidays for Christian holidays, fish in school lunches on Friday, payment by the government of salaries of teachers working in Catholic schools...)
  • The "Anglo-Saxon model": outside the sphere of racism, forbidding the veil may also be considered a form of discrimination against Muslim women, the ends of which would be to deny them their specificity. Forbidding the veil is thus seen as a will to constrain Muslim Frenchwomen by the comparison of French legislation and mentality with what happens in Anglo-Saxon countries, where communities are accepted with their cultural specificity, which in turn enriches the nation.[14]

(Nevertheless, politicians in the United Kingdom have attempted to put into action a radical model for integration since the London bombings in 2005. Many anti-Islamic attacks have also taken place among the general populace. However, Tony Blair, after calling for the Muslim community to take more responsibility for extremist currents among its flock, has focused exclusively on legislative measures reinforcing the war on terror, avoiding stigmatizing the Muslim community. He also asked Tariq Ramadan and a dozen others to advise the British government in its fight against terrorism.) The 7 July 2005 London bombings were a series of coordinated terrorist bomb blasts that hit Londons public transport system during the morning rush hour. ... For other people of the same name, see Tony Blair (disambiguation) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953)[1] is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Leader of the Labour Party, and Member of Parliament for the constituency... The war on terrorism or war on terror (abbreviated in U.S. policy circles as GWOT for Global War on Terror) is an effort by the governments of the United States and its principal allies to destroy groups deemed to be terrorist (primarily radical Islamist organizations such as al-Qaeda... Tariq Said Ramadan (born 26 August 1962 in Geneva, Switzerland) is a Swiss Muslim academic and theologian. ...

Among the French who do not share the position of exclusion for students who choose to keep their veils, there is at the forefront the Ligue française pour la défense des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen. The Ligue des droits de lhomme (Human Rights League) is a French NGO founded on June 4, 1898, by the republican Ludovic Trarieux to defend captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew wrongly accused of treason - this would be known as the Dreyfus Affair. ...

Outside the Muslim community, mobilization against the law has been weak, as the supporters of the law have been supported by the president, Jacques Chirac, his government, and major French medical associations. Among leftist organizations, the question of the veil is divisive, and has led to vehement debates often rendering mobilization against the veil in schools very minor and varied according to regions, appearing in the form of "collectives". Many political organizations such as the Revolutionary Communist League and the Greens, three teachers' unions (Ferc-CGT, FSU, and Sgen-CFDT), the French PTA, the UNL high school students' union, the French Association of Education and the Future, the fr:Ligue de l'enseignement, the Movement Against Racism and for the Fellowship Among Peoples (MRAP), and various collectives such as the Feminist Collective for Freedom have denounced the law but have not mobilized against it. Almost alone is the small collective "A School for All" which has organized some tens of meetings and assemblies on the issue. Jacques René Chirac (born November 29, 1932) has served as the Gaullist President of France since he was first elected in 1995. ... In politics, left-wing, political left, leftism, or simply the left, are terms which refer (with no particular precision) to the segment of the political spectrum typically associated with any of several strains of socialism, social democracy, or liberalism (especially in the American sense of the word), or with opposition... LCR protesters marching in a workforce demonstration in favour of public services and against privatisation The Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue communiste révolutionnaire) (LCR) is a French Trotskyist political party. ... Les Verts (or The Greens) are an ecologist political party to the left of the political spectrum in France. ...

Generally, their principal motivations are on the order of pedagogy, culture, and their idea of respecting freedom. They claim firstly that the number of incidents is very small and does not justify the intolerance and publicity given to isolated incidents, these being to the detriment of the psychology of adolescents caught up in intercultural conflicts. The necessity to open up to culture, to reflection, and to critique within schools would allow these young women to relativize a choice that would be imposed on them, instead of being torn apart by a culture shock between two obligations that are absolute, antagonistic, and irreconcilable toward each other. Pedagogy, the art or science of being a teacher, generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction[1]. The word comes from the Ancient Greek παιδαγωγέω (paidagōgeō; from παῖς (child) and ἄγω (lead)): literally, to lead the child”. In Ancient Greece, παιδαγωγός was (usually) a slave who supervised the education... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Others criticize the law as being inspired by racism, in light of the fact that Islam is associated, for a number of French people, with that which is "Arab", and that all too many French will always be ready to take up arms against what is "Arab" without discerning what is actually "Arab" or Islamic. Languages Arabic other languages (Arab minorities) Religions Predominantly Islam Some adherents of Druze, Judaism, Samaritan, Christianity Related ethnic groups Jews, Canaanites, other Semitic-speaking groups An Arab (Arabic: ); is a member of a Semitic group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to the...

On the other hand, a number of young women who choose to wear the veil do it as a personal choice independently of any family pressure, sometimes against the trend of other women in their families, and in some cases, after other women in their families have abandoned the practice. It would only appear again when the French obligation presented an impossibility for these young educated Muslims to exercise their own free will. For a long time, many Muslims in France had gone without the veil, in absence of any law which imposed it, as have homosexuals over the ages been obliged to kept secret their real sexuality out of fear for their lives.

Practical consequences

The veil controversy and its legislative consequences have revealed problems associated with the practice of the Islamic faith in so far as religion in French society and institutions (as opposed to the problems of integration of individuals). Partially fueled by the fear of a "communitarization" or "Islamization" of French society, the controversy has also fed off fears in certain sections of the Muslim community in France of "forced assimilation" and a slippery slope that would seek to ban more and more expressions of the Muslim faith. The controversy has also, however, brought the issue of the place of Islam in French society to the forefront of debate.

The veil controversy has been used opportunely to promote the expression of a French form Islam, distinct from Islam in French Muslims countries of origin. The presence of Muslim Frenchwomen wearing tricolour veils and shouting, "I am French!" in protests in Paris against the law forbidding the veil is one very timely but symptomatic example of social realities that are becoming more and more visible. A survey conducted by the French polling organization CSA in January of 2004 revealed that more than 90% of French Muslims claim to subscribe to culturally French principles such as the importance of the Republic and equal rights among men and women. The figure falls to 68% for respondents who believe in the separation of church and state. In contrast, a majority (50-60%) of those surveyed responded unfavorably to the law of laïcité, and would prefer to see their wife or daughter free to wear the veil. French tricolour flag A tricolour is a flag or banner having three colours, usually in approximately equal size (horizontally or vertically) and lacking additional symbols. ... City flag City coat of arms Motto: Fluctuat nec mergitur (Latin: Tossed by the waves, she does not sink) Paris Eiffel tower as seen from the esplanade du Trocadéro. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

In 2004, a year after the law was voted in, one organization opposed to it called the "Committee of the 15th of March and Liberty", published a report on the law's effects. The report cites the files of 806 students affected by the law. Of the 806 students, 533 have accepted the law and no longer wear their veils in class.[15] The report also gives an assessment on those other students have left the French school system because of this issue. Among them, 67 have pursued their studies abroad. Another 73 of those 806 suspended or expelled from schools over the veil have chosen to take government-run CNED correspondence courses in order to finish their studies. The number of those who have chosen to study via other, non-government forms of correspondence schools is unknown. // Distance Education is a field of expertise exploring situations in which the learner and the teacher are separated in time, space or both. ...

The opening of the 2005 school year passed largely without incident, and opposition to the law seems to have given way to broader public opinion. However, the actual number of those who no longer attend French junior high and high schools over their veils is unknown.

In some cities, conflict continues concerning adults' wearing of the Muslim veil. In some cases, the school administration has forbidden mothers and other family members not to weir their veil while accompanying students on school excursions to such places as libraries and parks. These interdictions have sometimes been rejected by school boards, and are unevenly enforced.

See also

The French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools bans wearing conspicuous religious symbols in French public (i. ... Manifestations Slavery · Racial profiling · Lynching Hate speech · Hate crime · Hate groups Genocide · Holocaust · Pogrom Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing · Race war Religious persecution · Gay bashing Movements Discriminatory Aryanism · Neo-Nazism · Supremacism Kahanism Anti-discriminatory Abolitionism · Civil rights · Gay rights Womens/Universal suffrage · Mens rights Childrens rights · Youth rights Disability...


  1. ^ Examples of Islamic authorities who believe that respecting Islamic tenets does not require the wearing of the veil by Muslim: Soheib Bencheikh, grand mufti of Marseille, in the magazine "Elle", March 2, 1998: “It's not about Islam, but a Mediterranean mechanism coupled with an archaic vision of Muslim law. It is abnormal that this interpretation of sacred texts, made for a society that no longer exists, should remain as such. It's as if, today, France were to continue [the laws of] the inquisition or the precepts of the age of the Crusades with vigor. The Islamists support a theology that no longer has a place. They apply the laws of an archaic canon to the letter.”
  2. ^ Description of musical clips containing such stereotypes. Numerous analysts (example, another example, another example by the same author) and coupled with 41% of French in an (ipsos survey) consider the image of women in advertising to be degrading.
  3. ^ This argument ("the veil gets them out of the house") is taken in "Le Foulard et la République", by Françoise Gaspard and Farhad Khosrokhavar, ed. La Découverte, 1995.
  4. ^ Example of such a course: sisters Alma and Lila Lévy seen in the newspaper "L'Humanité". Sociologist Françoise Gaspard speaks of a "demanded veil".
  5. ^ There are no objective givens on the level of racism felt by Muslims in France. As far as French people in general, a survey carried out in September, 2003, by the BSA Institute gives an idea of the level of racism in France, real or felt. According to this survey, 87% of French people consider racism to be widespread in their country. (see p.569 of the French version of the report). Otherwise, 14% of French people express racist ideas (p.576).
  6. ^ a b There is no internet site representing this group. On the following sites, there can be found passages by and interviews with members of this group, entirely or partially on the veil: [1](tout particulièrement les quatre derniers paragraphes) [2]
  7. ^ The theme of the veil as a symbol of submission of the woman to the man is found in many a discourse. Among them are:
    "Les Chiennes de Garde": "It's the symbol of the oppression of women, of a demonization of the body and women's sexuality" (communiqué, March 7, 2005),
    "Les Penelopes": "Veiled, they are property of masters who designate them, to others and to the girls themselves, as that which is forbidden." (article published on the website of this association
    la Ligue des Droits de l'Homme: "The LDH recalls its hostility to the veil, a symbol of oppression for many women" (communiqué, January 6, 1997).
    This is also expressed by individuals:
    Mohamed Kacimi, novelist of Algerian origin: "The veil is an antiquated alienation",
    Sylviane Agacinsky, philosopher: "The veil symbolizes submission to male authority"
  8. ^ Among them are:
    the burka used in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    arranged marriages that exist, to varying degrees, in many countries of the Muslim world.
    female circumcision, practiced by Muslims in 28 countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Egypt, Oman, Yemen, and the UAE.
  9. ^ This argument is put forward by many, including:
    Jean-Louis Debré: "Rare indeed must be the [phenomenon of] young women who spontaneously wear [the veil] spontaneously, outside any pressure from their family or from where they live." (site of the National Assembly)
    Alain Madelin: "Certainly, one can hope that the prohibition of the Islamic veil in school will be dissuasive and that many young women will find in the application of this law a way to escape the social pressure more or less against their will." ("Le Monde", February 7, 2004)
    Fadéla Amara, president of the Neither Whores Nor Submissive association: "I would also like to talk about the girls who don't wear the veil and who are threatened by this pressure that is brought on only by these [other] girls who wear the veil. You really have to understand that in a city today, a girl who wears the veil is respectable, and if she doesn't, she isn't."
  10. ^ Examples of texts which use this argument:
    an article from "l'Humanité"
    an interview with Bernard Stasi in the paper "La Croix".
  11. ^ According to a survey of teachers carried out from the 22nd to the 24th of January, 2004 by the CSA Institute; 79% of teachers consider the veil incompatible with public service and education
  12. ^ a b On the same site are listed the results of four surveys carried out in October and December, 2003. In each of them, an absolute majority of persons questioned answer in favor of a law forbidding the veil in public schools.
  13. ^ Exmaple of texts putting forward such an argument.
  14. ^ Some texts on Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism: impact of multiculturalism on feelings of national belonging in Canada
    effect of multiculturalism on the studies of American culture
    discounting the multicultural model in the UK
  15. ^ On the beginning of the 2004 scholastic year, a very small minority of Muslim students chose to shave their heads in order not to show their hair while at the same time obeying the letter of the law.

Female genital cutting (FGC) refers to a number of procedures performed for cultural, rather than medical, reasons on the female genitalia. ... UAE redirects here; for other uses of that term, see UAE (disambiguation) The United Arab Emirates is an oil-rich country situated in the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia, comprising seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. ... Jean-Louis Debré, President of Constitutional Council of France Jean-Louis Debré (born September 30, 1944 in Toulouse) is a conservative French politician. ... Alain Madelin in 2005 Alain Madelin (born March 26, 1946) is a French politician and a former minister of that country. ... Bernard Stasi when ombudsman Bernard Stasi (born July 4, 1930 in Reims) is a French politician. ...

External links


  • Le Foulard islamique en questions (Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2004), published under the direction of Charlotte Nordmann, with major contributions by Etienne Balibar, Saïd Bouamama, Dounia Bouzar, Christine Delphy, Françoise Gaspard, Nilufer Göle, Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, Farhad Khosrokhavar, Emmanuel Terray, and Pierre Tournemire.

Reflections on laïcité

  • Islam and laïcité
  • Reflections of a French citizen on the application of the law of laïcité
  • Press review on the veil in schools, on an atheist website

Associations opposed to the veil

  • Neither whores nor submissive
  • Sisyphus

Associations opposed to religious signs in French public schools

  • A School for All, Unitarian Collective
  • League for Human Rights and the Rights of the Citizenry
  • Petition on FCPE, with a list of certain notable signatories
  • Feminists for Equality Collective

Political people and organizations

  • Réactions to Jacques Chirac's memo on the application of the law of religious signs, on the site "Laïc info"


  • Point of view taken by François Bayrou before the National Assembly
  • Point of view taken by Alain Juppé before the commission on laïcité


  • Presentations of Laurent Fabius and Jean Glavany in the National Assembly
  • Presentation of Marie Georges Buffet in the National Assembly

Extreme left

  • Dossier on the veil in the 9th review of Socialisme International

"Integration" of Muslims in other countries

  • Islam in the UK
  • Advice from the Human Rights Commission in Québec on the Muslim veil in public schools



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