Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1125316
 


 



Undressing Difference: The Hijab in the West


Anita L. Allen


University of Pennsylvania Law School


Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Vol. 23, Pg. 208, 2008
U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-18
Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 08-27

Abstract:     
On March 15, 2006, French President Jacques Chirac signed into law an amendment to his country's education statute, banning the wearing of conspicuous signs of religious affiliation in public schools. Prohibited items included a large cross, a veil, or skullcap. The ban was expressly introduced by lawmakers as an application of the principle of government neutrality, du principe de laïcité. Opponents of the law viewed it primarily as an intolerant assault against the hijab, a head and neck wrap worn by many Muslim women around the world. In Politics of the Veil, Professor Joan Wallach Scott offers an illuminating account of the significance of the hijab in France. Scott's lucid, compact examination of the hijab complements previous feminist scholarship on veiling with a close look at its role in a particular time and place - contemporary France - where it has been the subject matter of a unique political discourse. How different is America's political discourse surrounding religious symbols in the schools as compared to the French? I offer a U.S. constitutional perspective on the rights of religious minorities and women in the public schools, and suggest that a ban on the hijab must be considered unconstitutional. A proposal for a national rule against the hijab in public schools or universities would fall flat in the United States. When compared to U.S. approaches to the hijab, the French experience examined by Joan Wallach Scott underscores an important point: there is more than one way to be a modern, multicultural western liberal democracy with a Muslim population, and some ways are better than others.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: hijab, muslim women, veiling, laicrite, yarmulke, religious freedom, tolerance, religion, religious practices, clothing

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: April 29, 2008 ; Last revised: June 17, 2009

Suggested Citation

Allen, Anita L., Undressing Difference: The Hijab in the West. Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, Vol. 23, Pg. 208, 2008; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-18; Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 08-27. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1125316

Contact Information

Anita L. Allen (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 4,323
Downloads: 701
Download Rank: 19,112

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.375 seconds