Behind the Veil
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Behind the Veil

A Critical Analysis of European Veiling Laws

Neville Cox

Since the early 2010s, an increasing number of European countries have passed laws that prohibit the wearing of various kinds of Islamic veil in particular circumstances. This insightful book considers the arguments used to justify such laws and analyses the legitimacy of these arguments both generally and in regards to whether such laws can be seen as justified interferences with the rights of women who wish to wear such garments.
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Chapter 6: Veiling and societal values

Neville Cox


An increasingly common feature of much recent rhetoric surrounding the Islamic veil (and especially the full-face veil) is that it is repugnant to the foundational values of the particular society. Indeed it is no coincidence that the enactment of many such laws has occurred during a time period that has seen significant increases in support for right wing populist views in many European countries. In this chapter, I consider whether anti-veiling laws can be justified on the basis that they buttress such allegedly foundational, societal values. Two such values are especially important. First there is a concern with a ‘secular’ society – a concern that underpinned laws restricting veiling in both Turkey and France. Secondly there is a concern with an open society – the basis on which the European Court of Human Rights has, recently, upheld the legitimacy of laws prohibiting face veils in public.

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