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The French 'headscarves Ban': Intolerance or Necessity ?
The John Marshall Law Review (2007)
  • Reuven Ziegler
The notion analyzed in the article is that a right can often be interpreted in contrasting terms in different countries, even if these countries are all signatories to the same human rights conventions and are considered to be western liberal democracies. Hence, the protection granted to a particular right is greatly affected by the fundamental tenets of the social framework in a given society. I substantiate my claim empirically by offering a critique of the recent 'headscarves ban' in French public schools. While the ban enjoys overwhelming public support in France, insisting that it protects the fabric of French society, it is harshly criticized by scholars and politicians in other western democracies, where it is regarded as an infringement of Muslim women's right to freedom of religion and conscience. Contrasting interpretations of the scope of protection granted to that right appear in France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany even though they are signatories to the same human rights conventions. By analyzing the fundamental principles of French society, namely secularity and 'the melting pot', the article aims to place the 'headscarves ban' within a wider framework. Such analysis helps explain why the ban is considered a necessity in French society, despite its negative effects on religious practices.
  • Freedom of religion,
  • Freedom of speech,
  • Constitution
Publication Date
January, 2007
Citation Information
Reuven Ziegler. "The French 'headscarves Ban': Intolerance or Necessity ?" The John Marshall Law Review Vol. 40 Iss. 2 (2007)
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