The Islamic Veil Affairs (2003-4 and 2009-2011), which led to the banning of Muslim girls wearing Islamic headscarves in French public schools and women wearing full-face veils in public, have raised serious concerns about the relationship between secularism and the freedom of religious expression.
Unveiling the French Republic: National Identity, Secularism, and Islam in Contemporary France, Per-Erik Nilsson engages in a careful critical analysis of the Veil Affairs. His critique, for the most part, is not on the decision of Muslim women to wear the veil but rather on the misuse of secular ideology to justify religious intolerance and mask ethnic prejudice.
Per-Erik Nilsson, Ph.D (2012) is director and researcher at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism, Uppsala University. He has written and published extensively on the intersections of secularism, religion, and violence, including “Where’s Charlie?”, in the
Cambridge Companion to Religion and Terrorism (ed. James Lewis, Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Series Editor’s Preface
Introduction: Everybody Welcome to France
Part I. Approaching French Secularism
1 (French) Secularism
Secularization, the Secular, and Secularism
A Western Gaze?
Previous Research on the Islamic Veil Affairs and Secularism
A Critical Approach to Secularism
Secularism as Governmentality
Secularism as Discourse
2 A Shield Against Alterity
The Islamic Veil Affairs
State Feminism and the Other-Woman
Alterity and Communitarianism
Part II. The First Islamic Veil Affair
3 Ideological Battle Flags
A New and Unwanted Situation
Post-Christian Islamic Challenges
A Question of Integration?
A Glocalized World
Particular Versus National Law
Discrimination and Violence
Behind the Veil
What Does It Represent?
Why Do They Wear It?
4 Inventing Secularism
An Unruly March Towards Unity
From Clash to Atonement
The Cornerstone of the Republic
Equality and Neutrality
Brotherhood, Integration and French Communitarianism
An Anti-Islamic Law?
Part III. The Second Islamic Veil Affair
5 The Tip of the Iceberg
New Times, Old Threats
The Return of Religion
A Religious and/or Political Symbol
An Attack on the Republic’s Principles and the Dignity of Women
6 (Re)Inventing Secularism
The History of a Christian Civilization
A Christian Nation
The Motor of Limited Tolerance
Respecting a Value, Respecting a Principle
Diversity, Positive Secularism and Tolerance
Faith, Hope, and Unity
Securing Public Order
Part IV. Consequences
7 Social Contracts, National Borders and Illiberal Governmentality
National Frontiers and Social Contracts
Discursive Displacement and Liberal Faith
Romantic Ideals and Secularist Retaliation
All interested in French contemporary politics, especially scholars, students, journalists, and policy makers.