The burqa, and items associated with some Muslim women’s dress (the niqab and jilbab) is once more at the centre of political controversy in Europe.
In fact, the immediate event that has propelled it to the centre of attention – a near-unanimous vote by France’s lower house of parliament on 13 July 2010 in favour of a bill to Prohibit concealment of the face in public places – is but one episode in a more or less continuous saga that tends to produce more speculation than informed understanding.
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My research team and I have recently completed fieldwork with Muslim women in Spain and Italy, and we clearly detected fear and paranoia among our respondents. Everyone Has Complete Freedom Of Thought Religion Essay [Internet]. [Accessed 6 September 2019]; Available from: https://
I have long stated in relation to the situation of Islam in Italy that although some issues were problematic (inconsistent immigration laws, restrictive access to citizenship), the veil was definitely not a concern.
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Thus, the French vote is only part of a wider and messier situation. Belgian MPs for their part have since the mid-2000s agreed that the “integral veil” should be banned.
This was the eventual result of a gradual process whereby the hijab became condemned as a form of oppression of women.