Journal Article

France Upside Down over a Head Scarf?*

Sophie Body-Gendrot

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 68, issue 3, pages 289-304
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2007 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
France Upside Down over a Head Scarf?*

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This article addresses the controversial banning of the headscarf (hijab) worn by Muslim girls in French schools. Before looking at the controversy itself, this study tackles theoretical questions regarding the assertion and recognition of specific identities in the public space, the neutral role that schools are supposed to assume, and the perceptions of Muslim women by themselves and by others. These issues are then situated within the specific socio-historical context of France to underscore the unique circumstances surrounding the banning of the headscarf. The article concludes by suggesting that, although the law banning the headscarf was passed for petty political reasons, an unintended benefit may result: French Muslims who do not want to impose the headscarf on their daughters may now be able to refer to the law to deflect criticisms of those in their communities and neighbourhoods who feel they are being unfaithful to religious practices.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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