The Constraints of Choice: Secular Sensibilities, Pious Critique, and an Islamic Ethic of Sisterhood in France

In: Sociology of Islam

Muslim women in France engage with moral language of choice, freedom, and rights in a way that offers a framework for the intensification rather than the dilution of pious aspirations. At the same time, the centrality of choice in French state discourses pertaining to Muslim women over-determines the language of choice, freedom, and rights through association with political secularism. Against the background of the valorization of gender mixing (mixité) in state discourses, all-female Islamic social settings reconfigure gender separation (non-mixité) through a pious ethos of rights, freedoms, and personal development that makes up part of the “assemblage” of secularity in the French context, even as these settings are opposed to political secularism.

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