Religious freedom in a secular society: the case of the Islamic headscarf in France

Edited book (chapter)


Jones, Nicky. 2012. "Religious freedom in a secular society: the case of the Islamic headscarf in France." Babie, Paul and Rochow, Neville (ed.) Freedom of religion under Bills of Rights. Adelaide, Australia. University of Adelaide Press. pp. 216-238
Chapter Title

Religious freedom in a secular society: the case of the Islamic headscarf in France

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID3603
Book TitleFreedom of religion under Bills of Rights
Authors
AuthorJones, Nicky
EditorsBabie, Paul and Rochow, Neville
Page Range216-238
Chapter Number11
Number of Pages23
Year2012
PublisherUniversity of Adelaide Press
Place of PublicationAdelaide, Australia
ISBN9780987171801
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9780987171818.012
Web Address (URL)http://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/freedom-religion/freedom-ebook.pdf
Abstract

One of the most interesting examples in recent years of a confrontation between secular and religious values occurred in France in the so-called 'affair of the headscarf'.
The affair can be traced back to events in 1989, which were followed by a further series of events during the 1990s. It started when a public school in Creil, a town in northern France, expelled three Muslim schoolgirls for refusing to remove the Islamic headscarves they wore to school.
This chapter will discuss some of the significant events in the affair of the headscarf, including the 1989 legal opinion delivered by France's highest administrative court,
the Conseil d'Etat, which stated the legal principles to be followed in resolving the disputes, as well as key ministerial circulars issued to explain how the legal opinion was to be applied and the case law from the appeals brought by many of the expelled schoolgirls. The chapter will also consider the development of secularism in France
and the notion of rights and duties, which was integral to the doctrine of secularism, as emphasised in the 1989 legal opinion and then applied in the 'headscarf' case law. Finally, this chapter will consider some lessons that can be learned from the affair of the headscarf in France: should a government legislate against clothing and what
issues arise in relation to such legislation? How might religious freedoms be best protected? Should religious protections (or indeed secularism itself ) be narrowly or
broadly defined? I also note some events that have occurred in Australia in recent years which raise similar questions to those considered in relation to the French affair of
the headscarf: what does secularism mean in a country such as Australia and what might be its implications for cultural and religious freedom and restrictions on such
freedom?

Keywordsburqa; headscarf; religious freedom; France; secularism; Muslim; conservative government
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020500405. Religion, society and culture
441013. Sociology of migration, ethnicity and multiculturalism
480499. Law in context not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

Copyright retained by the authors. Chapter is freely viewable at the publisher URL.
This book had its genesis in the 'Cultural and Religious Freedom under a Bill of Rights' Conference held 13-15
August 2009 at Old Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Law
University of Adelaide
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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