15 September 2016
Islam and Muslims in France have become the point of convergence of intense political, legal and intercommunity tensions. These growing divisions threaten a capital of social resilience that is being severely put to the test by a succession of terrorist attacks.
The recent decision of more than 30 French coastal towns to ban women from wearing the Islamic swimsuit known as burkini appears to be the latest iteration of a decades-old debate. A similar bone of contention emerged in 1989 when three teenage girls wearing Islamic headscarves were expelled from their middle school as their dress code was seen to be in contradiction with French secularist rules.
In 2004 a law banning the wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols in French public schools such as Islamic veils, the kippa and “an excessively large cross” was adopted. Six years later the French authorities reignited the controversy by banning the wearing of face-covering clothes and headgears in the public space. The context of the burkini ban is nonetheless different as the rise of the self-styled Islamic State (IS) has placed Islam and Muslims in France in the spotlight.
… Romain Quivooij is an Associate Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
CENS / Online
Last updated on 16/09/2016