France with its tradition of ensuring the separation of state and religion, has long acknowledged concerns with outward displays of religious symbols, in particular certain items of clothing worn by Muslim women. Given the proximity of French regional elections (21 March 2010) it appears likely that this issue will come to the forefront once again, with some political parties seeking an outright ban on the niqab and burqa in public places. Interestingly, other nations have already taken this step, including Muslim countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia.
With this in mind, BBC Wales’ reporter Selma Chalabi has investigated some of the issues faced by Muslim women living in Wales. Although, it has been suggested that out of a population of 5 million Muslims, only 2,000 women wear the attire which is causing so much controversy, for many this issue is viewed as an increasingly worrying trend. Indeed, Chalabi points out that some Muslim women feel that by choosing to dress in a niqab or burqa they will automatically disadvantage themselves, not least in terms of career opportunities. Given the findings of the 2001 census which showed that ‘66% of Muslim women were economically inactive,’ it is perhaps understandable that for many Muslim women, faith is not the only criteria when choosing what to wear.
Controlling the Body: Muslim Feminists Debating Women’s Rights in Indonesia
By Pieternella van Doorn-Harder,
(Vol. 3, October 2008)
Islam and Democracy: Is Modernization a Barrier?
By John O. Voll,
(Vol. 1, November 2006)