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.