Religious Diversity Issue Runs Deeper Than Banning Symbols

December 15, 2003

Source: Mother Jones

On December 15, 2003 Mother Jones ran an article on the proposed ban of religious symbols in French public schools: "Although the new recommendation includes Jewish kippot (skullcaps) and large Christian crosses, the real debate centers around the hijab, or headscarf, worn by some Muslim women. Arguments differ on why the headscarves should be banned, feminists argue that it is a symbol of women's oppression, and politicians see it as debasement of the separation of church and state and a provocative symbol of Muslim fundamentalism. While critics have valid concerns, it's not clear how forcing Muslim women to expose their hair will solve these larger problems...As the Economist points out, the real issues as stake in France are not being discussed. Instead of cutting to the heart of the issues -- the dearth of Muslim leaders in French politics and business, a lily-white national image, a growing fundamentalist movement -- France has decided to reduce complexities to the issue of whether Muslim women can wear hijab."