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«France & the Headscarf Exploring Discrimination through Laïcité and a Colonial Legacy Samantha Shea Tropper April 2013 Under the supervision of ...»

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DUKE UNIVERSITY

Durham, North Carolina

France & the Headscarf

Exploring Discrimination through Laïcité and a Colonial Legacy

Samantha Shea Tropper

April 2013

Under the supervision of Professor Ellen McLarney

Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements for Graduation with Distinction

Program in International Comparative Studies

Trinity College of Arts and Sciences Contents

Abstract

…………………………………………………………………………………. 3 Figures …………………………………………………………………………………... 4 Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………….. 5 A Note about Islamic Veils …………………………………………………………….. 6 Introduction …………………………………………………………………………...... 7 Chapter One: Laïcité: Evolution and Transformations ……………………………...... 14 The Formation of the French Laïcité …………………………………………... 15 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………... 23 Chapter Two: Colonization and the Algeria Legacy ………………………………….. 25 A “Civilizing Mission” in the World of an “Other” …………………………… 26 The Algerian War ……………………………………………………………… 36 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………... 45 Chapter Three: From Immigrant Problem to Muslim Problem: The New Challenges of Laïcité ………………………………………………………………………….. 46 Post-War Immigration …………………………………………………………. 46 Increased Presence of Islam …………………………………………………..... 49 Laïcité in the 21st Century …………………………………………………….... 63 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………... 67 Chapter Four: Voices …………………………………………………………………. 69 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………….. 97 Glossary ……………………………………………………………………………… 101 Appendix I: Interview Details ……………………………………………………….. 104 Appendix II: Interview Questions …………………………………………………… 109 Bibliography …………………………………………………………………………. 111 Videos ………………………………………………………………………………… 115 2

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law banned the Islamic headscarf in all public schools, claiming laïcité—secularism—as its reasoning. But this law was not solely the product of Islamophobia leftover from 9/11. It had been building for generations on a history of colonialism in North Africa as well as post-decolonization attitudes about immigration and Islam in the international sphere. This paper aims to disentangle this complicated concept of laïcité and how it has been manipulated in the past century to create a so-called “neutral” public sphere in which Muslims are placed in a subordinate position. Through an analysis of colonialism and its remnants as well as Islamophobia that has resulted from more current events portrayed in the media, this paper outlines the development of Arab and Muslim discrimination in France. In the final chapter, interviews from Muslim individuals in France are used to give them a proper voice in this debate, in which they are so often left unheard. Their stories act as the impetus to promote prolonged research and development of this topic in the future as events continue to unfold in France.

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1. Different types of Islamic veils ……………………………………………………… 5

2. Published document targeting Algerians departing for the metropole meant to dissuade them from leaving Algeria ……………………………………………….. 29

3. Published document targeting Algerians departing for the metropole …………….. 31

4. The conquest of Algeria in a textbook from 1954 ………………………………..... 34

5. Flyer for “Vies d’exil” exposition at the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris ……………………………………………………………………………... 40

6. Photograph of painting presented at the “Vies d’exil” exposition in Paris ………… 42

7. Main nationality groups as percentage of France’s foreign population, 1946-90….. 46

8. Special issue of Le Nouvel Observateur. Nov. 11, 1989 …………………………... 55

9. Issue of Le Nouvel Observateur from Nov. 1, 1989 ……………………………….. 56

10. Issue of Le Nouvel Observateur from Oct. 5, 1989 ………………………………... 57





11. Article in Libération from Oct. 21, 1989 …………………………………………... 59

12. Flyer for Samia’s one-woman comedy show in Paris.…………………………….. 68

13. Flyer for Samy’s one-man comedy show in Paris …………………………………. 85 4

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This thesis would not have been possible without the support of numerous individuals and I am incredibly thankful to have been granted their help in this process.

To Professor Cheri Ross, Professor Frances Hasso, and Tamara Extian-Babiuk, thank you for the seemingly endless reviews of my drafts and for guiding me through what was essentially unknown territory.

To Jeanette Jouili, thank you for helping me realize the significance of my primary research and the impact it can have, as well as the helpful comments on drafts.

To Professor Ellen McLarney, you have been a wonderful advisor. Thank you for always encouraging me and pushing me to do my best throughout my Duke career.

Thank you for being a large part of the inspiration for this project and for all the advice.

I would like to thank the following departments for their generous help in funding my research in Paris in December 2012 and January 2013: the Duke Islamic Studies Center, the Duke University Middle Eastern Studies Center, the International Comparative Studies department, the Women’s Studies department, and the Undergraduate Research Support Office. The grants I received were absolutely imperative for my travel and for the inclusion of the Muslim men’s and women’s stories and voices in the final chapter of this thesis.

Thank you to my family—my mother, my father, and my sister—for their constant love and support in everything I do.

Lastly, thank you so much to the wonderful men and women in and around Paris who allowed me to interview them about their personal thoughts and experiences regarding the headscarf and Islam in France.

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are ranges of veil types, from the hijab to the burqa. The generic term “veiling” (“voiler” in French) is also employed to refer to the general practice of covering oneself with any type of Islamic veil. The hijab, or hiyab, refers to a scarf worn by a Muslim woman that covers her hair and her neck and ears, but leaves her entire face visible. It is also most commonly called a “headscarf” or a “veil” in English, or a “foulard” or a “voile” in French. The chador, most commonly worn historically by Iranian women, is a long cloak that covers the body and the head, but leaves the face visible. The niqab is a veil that covers the bottom half of the face, leaving the eyes visible and is worn along with a headscarf. The burqa is the full face-covering veil: it covers the entire body, the head, and the entire face, by leaving a mesh fabric covering over the eyes to see through.

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1 Image source: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7dr45fs6B1qdkjdpo1_500.jpg 6

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school in Creil, France, a suburb of Paris. When asked to remove them, they refused.2 Subsequently, the three girls were expelled. Thus began the infamous “affairs of the scarves” (“affaires des foulards”). The school’s principal, Ernest Chenière, claimed that he was acting in the name of laïcité—loosely translated “secularism”—when he expelled the students, which he considered an “inviolable and transparent principle, one of the pillars of French universalism.”3 Chenière’s claim sparked heated debates about the meaning of laïcité and its application in today’s world.

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incident. An article in The New York Times from November 12, 1989, states that the controversy was about “Iranian-style veils” that are “associated with the most conservative Muslim societies.” 4 The reference to Iran evoked the threat not just of political Islam to French secular society, but also of the Islamic revolution, inflaming French fears about the political mobilization of Muslim populations in France. In fact, the girls were wearing simple headscarves, or a hijab, which are not associated with Iran, 2 See Bronwyn Winter, Hijab & The Republic: Uncovering the French Headscarf Debate (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 129.

3 Joan Wallach Scott, The Politics of the Veil (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 22.

4 Youssef M. Ibrahim, “Arab Girls’ Veils at Issue in France: As Muslims Fight School Ban, Nation Debates Clash of Secularism and Rights,” New York Times, November 12, 1989.

http://proxy.lib.duke.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/advanc ed?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/docview/110157237?accountid=10 598 (accessed September 17, 2012).

7 in the way a chador would have been. The media repeatedly blamed immigration issues as the basis for this controversy: “France is experiencing growing conflict from the difficulties of integrating Muslim immigrants from North Africa into society,” stated a New York Times article dated December 3, 1989.5 Such accounts seemingly overlooked the fact that all three girls were French-born citizens.

This incident provided a site for investigating the changing meanings of laïcité in contemporary French society and especially the role of religious freedom and the freedom of religious expression in a secular society. The girls’ expulsion was appealed to the State Council,6 France’s highest judicial power, in November 1989. The Council’s avis (ruling) no. 346.893 from November 27, 1989, referred to other laws—both French and international—which cited the freedom of expression as a right. Concepts of religious freedom are laid out in French Constitutions, various European conventions, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.7 The court’s final conclusion was that students wearing signs of their religion are not automatically in conflict with laïcité, but these signs can still be banned if they become a form of pressure

or propaganda.8 The avis states:

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5 “Compromise Eases French Dispute on Muslim Veils in Schools,” New York Times, December 3, 1989, International section.

http://proxy.lib.duke.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/advanc ed?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/docview/110349848?accountid=10

598. Date accessed: September 17, 2012.

6 Le Conseil d’état 7 See Conseil d’Etat, Assemblée générale (Section de l’Intérieur), Avis no. 346.893, November 27, 1989, Section 1 Article 3.

8 See the “key paragraph” from the Council’s avis in Winter, Hijab & The Republic, 138.

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Prior to this statement, the avis clarifies that the student’s behavior must “severely disrupt the functioning of the public service,”10 meaning educational services.11 In the words of anthropologist John R. Bowen, the girls “had a right to wear the scarves as long as they did not disturb school life,” in accordance with the avis, but “none of this changed the reality for those three middle school girls, who remained sequestered in the school library.”12 This ruling essentially left the decisions about individual cases to school administrators themselves, and its ambiguity left much open for interpretation. As a result, issues like this one continued to occur in French schools. The vague nature of the avis, allowing individual school administrations to make decisions about religious signs, did not bode well for Muslim girls who wanted to express their faith, because of the rampant anti-Islamic sentiment in France at the time. Any expression of Islamic faith could be deemed “a threat to the order of the establishment” in an avowedly secular, but implicitly Christian, French society.

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especially in the post-9/11 era. France and its domestic politics took over international 9 “Un refus d’admission dans une école d’un élève nouvellement inscrit ou un refus d’inscription dans un collège ou un lycée ne serait justifié que par le risqué d’une menace pour l’ordre dans l’établissement ou pour le fonctionnement normal du service de l’enseignement.” Section 2 Article 3.

10 “perturberait gravement le fonctionnement du service public” 11 Avis no. 346.893, Section 2 Article 3.

12 John R. Bowen, Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 86.

9 news in 2011 when Nicolas Sarkozy passed the so-called “burqa ban.”13 Headlines blared news that “Muslim Women Protest on First Day of France’s Face Veil Ban,”14 “2 Arrested as France’s Ban on Burqas, Niqabs Takes Effect,”15 and “France’s Burqa Ban Adds To Anti-Muslim Climate”16 in well-known Western media outlets. French laïcité appeared to interpret Muslim women’s dress as a threat to the others of the republic.

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