|In The Name of Gender Equality: Debating and Regulating the Muslim Veil across Postcolonial Europe|
|European countries have chosen different approaches to manage the wearing of the Muslim veil in the public sphere, particularly in schools, universities and courts. While France and half of Germany - but also Turkey - have adopted prohibitive regulations, the United-Kingdom « tolerates » the wearing of the veil in the public space.
The comparison of the public and political debates on “the headscarf” across France, Germany, Turkey and the United-Kingdom first sheds light on the main factors explaining the adopting (or not) of a prohibition or of a regulation in these four countries. Then, and more interesting, this comparison provides insights into the dominant arguments supporting or opposing the different approaches to “the headscarf”, the different regulations or practices, within and across European liberal democracies. It thus raises the question of the very terms on which “the headscarf” has been and is still debated and regulated (but also constituted as an object of research) in postcolonial Europe. More precisely, it raises the question of the instrumental use (and abuse) of the argument of gender equality in the European public debates on female Muslim attire and in the current policy-making process. To what extent is this argument instrumentalised to produce a “racialized Europeaness” (Balibar 2007) following the logic of the “clash of civilisations”?
Starting from the comparative analysis of the debates, regulations and politics related to the wearing of the Muslim veil in three European countries and Turkey, my communication will focus on the imbrication of gender, sexuality, racism and religion in the current process of (re)negotiation an (re)definition of both national identities and “Europeaness”.