Veiled Objections: Facing Public Opposition to the Niqab
University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law
September 20, 2009
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION: MANAGING RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY, Lori Beaman ed., Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012
This article is an attempt to analyze the growing agitation that has been expressed about Muslim women who cover their faces. I trace North American and European contexts in which the issue of the veil is a site of social debate and contestation by canvassing the media and law reports from the last five years. The depth of discomfort evoked by these women and their outward markers of religiosity is extraordinary and as I will demonstrate results in a wide range of rationalizations as to why their public displays of religiosity must be banned. Part I of this paper describes various explanations as to why some Muslim women cover parts of their bodies. However, the main purpose of this article is to examine opposition to the niqab. Thus part II of this paper critically examines ten arguments for why women should not wear the niqab. The focus of this article, on opposition to niqab-wearing women in public spaces, is not to further marginalize an already beleaguered minority. Rather, it is to critically unpack arguments that insist on alienating a religious minority such that the refocusing of the gaze is on “us”, on the reasons we offer to exclude certain people from social and political life. That the plight of niqab-wearing women might help us better understand ourselves is the ultimate objective of this paper.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: niqab, opposition, objection, Muslim womenAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 21, 2009 ; Last revised: November 16, 2011
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