French Muslim women’s clothes

The secular state’s religious war against racialised women

Authored by: Shabana Mir

The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815367772
eBook ISBN: 9781351256568
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter unpacks the discursive construction of Muslim women’s clothing in the context of French campaigns and laws banning or restricting hijab, niqab, burqa, and burqini. While anti-veil stigma and laws are neither new nor specific to France, French Muslim women who wear modest clothing are characterized as a unique danger to society, to the republic, to secularism, to the nation’s cultural integrity, to women, to girls, and even to children. By associating bans that target French Muslim women with the language of emancipation, protection, danger, and secular neutrality, hijab bans attempt to deflect perception of what they are: a racist, anti-Muslim attack on minority women.

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