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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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The Republic and the Veil

The Republic and the Veil

(p.272) 30 The Republic and the Veil
The French Republic

John R. Bowen

Cornell University Press

This chapter maps out the French theories and anxieties about Islamic headscarves from the late 1980s onward, when fears about international political Islam combined with the greater domestic visibility of Islam to produce new cries of alarm. Objections to public wearing of Islamic scarves were based on multiple claims: some expressed concern that boys would pressure girls to don scarves; others argued that the scarves had become signs of political Islam; still others claimed that the scarf stood for the oppression of women. The debate centered on the presence of such scarves in schools and produced a 2004 law banning conspicuous signs of religious affiliation from public schools. No longer were scarves (foulards) at issue, but rather the inexact term “the veil” (le voile).

Keywords:   political Islam, Islamic headscarves, affaires du foulard, burqa, hijâb, female oppression, religious affiliation, le voile

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