Thursday, September 18 2014

French veil ban increasing hostility towards veiled Muslim women


New research carried out by Irene Zempi at the University of Leicester, suggests that the banning of the face veil in France has led to increased hostility towards veiled Muslim women.

The findings supplement previous research by Zempi into the victimisation of veiled Muslim women and hate crimes committed against them.

From the University of Leicester's Press Office:

“Evidence shows that there is a link between the banning of the veil in France and increased levels of anti-Muslim hostility towards veiled Muslim women in the UK, according to researchers at the University of Leicester.

“Research from the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester suggests that the veil ban stigmatises veiled Muslim women as ‘criminals’ and fosters Muslim ‘otherness’."

Irene  Zempi, from whose research the conclusions are drawn said:  "In light of my interviews with veiled Muslim women, I am confident that the French veil ban is a ‘trigger’ event which has led to increased levels of anti-Muslim hostility towards women who wear the face veil – the most visual symbol of Islam in the West.

“"The veil ban policy is a clear manifestation of Islamophobia. The veil ban is not a ‘religious-blind’ piece of legislation; rather it attacks ‘Islam’ through the religious code of dress for Muslim women."


Zempi's research draws on qualitative analysis from “individual and focus group interviews with veiled Muslim women. This research also includes interviews with French Muslim women who moved to Leicester from France after the French ban was imposed.”

Zempi “argues that the veil ban policy – including support for state veil bans – is fertile ground for anti-Muslim hate crime/incidents in the public sphere.

“She continues: "The veil ban not only overshadows the fundamental issue of religious freedom as a human right, it also undercuts individual agency, privacy, and self-expression. This law oppresses women who want to wear the veil by depriving them from having control over their bodies and the way they dress."


The senior lecturer in criminology at the University, Jon Garland stated that Zempi is “uncovering alarming amounts of prejudice suffered by veiled Muslim women, but her work will hopefully help to increase understanding of this problem and thereby challenge these prejudices."

Recently published research by academics at Queen Mary, university of London, looking into the ‘anti-burqa movement in western Europe’ argued that legislation prohibiting the garment seems to have spread like “political swine flu”. Shah and Grillo argue in the report that “Legislators have sought to impose a particular narrative of the face-veil, and it is unfortunate that they have taken it upon themselves to declare a position strongly against face veiling based on a number of narrow grounds, thus stifling or impeding what might otherwise be a ‘natural’ conversational and dialogical development among Muslims, and with non-Muslims, about the significance of the face-veil.”

In France itself, testimony illustrates that the ban on face veils has had a significant impact on the freedom of movement and quality of life of women who choose to veil. Moreover, a report published by Amnesty International last month argued that prohibitions on the face veil have often been introduced “without consulting women affected by such prohibition”, concluding that “Such legislation and policies are detrimental to women’s equality and autonomy”.

For more information on the research findings from the University of Leicester, follow the link here.









Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 15:14

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