When Laïcité Goes Wrong, or When Burqa Checks Start Getting Real

Since the anti-burqa law (or whatever you want to call it, I can’t anymore) was passed in France, women with “full cover” can be cited for non-compliance, and can be stopped for identity checks.  We all remember the story of the polygamous butcher and his many niqab-clad wives gleefully committing welfare fraud.  One of his wives was stopped while driving, and it was argued that she was pulled over, not for a traditional traffic offense, but because she was driving with a niqab on (which is why s … [Read more...]

Behind the Burqa Ban: The Problem with France’s Muslim Feminists

This article was written by Peter Gray.France’s decision to outlaw face veils sparked a robust debate about religion and women’s rights. In response to concerns that the law will negatively impact Muslim women, its advocates frequently mention that it enjoys the approval of several prominent French Muslim feminists. What is not mentioned, however, is that behind their feminist façade, these women have a troubling record of harassing the women they claim to speak for.Discussions of Muslim fe … [Read more...]

The Republic Lives its Islamophobia Openly: France’s Newest Anti-Niqab Campaign

In France, they really don’t like any type of head coverings.  After decades of one headscarf affair after another, where generations of young women who wear hijab are forced to stop their education (way to go in liberating women, France), things got serious when France woke up in recent years to the threat of illegal polygamous niqabis and their "creeping Shariah."To counter the 367 burqa-clad women (this is a real number, I kid you not) in France in 2009 (which must mean millions in 2015, of … [Read more...]

The Doha Debates on The Burqa Ban: Filling in the Gaps

This is a guest post, written by Layla in response to our Doha Debates Roundtable.I’m a Muslim woman by birth and cultural affiliation that has lived in the U.S., the Middle East, and most recently, France.  For a year and a half now, since President Sarkozy first began advocating the ban on the face veil, I’ve had mixed feelings about this issue.  So I was very excited to watch the Doha Debates on this subject, thinking that I’d finally hear an echo of how the two sides of this debate have be … [Read more...]

Revealing Democracy: A Conference on Bill 94 (Part II)

(See Part 1 here.)I didn’t make it to the Friday panels because of schoolwork, but I was able to catch the talks on Saturday (November 20).  The first panel was called “The Theoretical and Analytical Challenges of Identity Politics,” with speakers Monique Deveaux, Cécile Laborde, and Beverley Baines; the second panel was entitled “’Managing’ Religious and Ethnocultural Diversity: Looking Beyond Existing Models,” and included Sirma Bilge, Sedef Arat-Koç, and François Rocher.  Because many of t … [Read more...]

Revealing Democracy: A Conference on Bill 94 (Part I)

Quebec’s Bill 94, which would deny access to public services to women who wear niqab, is back in parliamentary hearings and, by all accounts, likely to pass.  This past weekend, an international conference entitled "Revealing Democracy: Bill 94 and the challenges of religious pluralism and ethnocultural diversity in Quebec" was held at Concordia University in Montreal.  Its focus was on looking critically at the social and political contexts in which the bill has come to be.  Among other topics, … [Read more...]

The Doha Debates on The Burqa Ban

Last month, the Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates took on the French niqab ban, discussing the motion: “This House believes France is right to ban the face veil.” Since the niqab ban (or the “burqa ban,” and we’ve dubbed it) has been a big media issue on MMW,  a few of MMW's ladies decided to get together to talk about this edition of the Debates.You can read the transcript or watch video at the website.Yusra: Was it just me or were the most recent Doha Debates the best installment so far? S … [Read more...]


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