France and the Headscarves Debate

In this section we will move from stories about individuals to a discussion about the goals of integration and what successful integration looks like. We will focus on France, where Islam—the religion of many North African immigrants and their French sons and daughters—has become the subject of many public discussions. In particular, we will examine the recent debate over headscarves in French state-run schools. This discussion, while involving particular dynamics and histories, echoes larger global conversations about religion, identity and integration and reveals varying understandings of what different social groups and societies need to do to integrate people of diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.

Use the readings in this case study to gain a fuller understanding of the history of the veil and the role of religion in public schools.

Reading
Global Immigration

A Brief History of the Veil in Islam

Investigate the history of Muslim women wearing head coverings, and consider how the veil became a political symbol.

Reading
Global Immigration

The Veil and a New Muslim Identity

Read personal points of view on why some young women in France choose to wear headscarves.

Reading
Global Immigration

France Bans the Veil in Public Schools

Investigate the law banning headscarves in French schools and explore how people reacted to the legislation.

Reading
Global Immigration

Debating the Ban of the Veil in Public Schools

Explore the debate over banning headscarves in French schools and consider the tension between personal and group identities.

Reading
Global Immigration

Overcoming Religious Illiteracy

Scholar Diane Moore writes about the troubling issues that arise from a widespread ignorance of religion and how they can be overcome.

Reading
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Timline of French Secularity

Learn about key events in the history of French secularity.

Reading
Global Immigration

Changing Communities

Explore the issues that increasing diversity raises within communities in Great Britain.

Reading
Global Immigration

Public Schools: Where New Citizens Are Made

Learn about the challenges of addressing religious difference in French public schools.

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