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 8: Symbolic statements, clashing values and European anti-veiling laws

Neville Cox


In this concluding chapter, I draw together various themes that have arisen in the previous chapters and that point, I believe, to the conclusion that European anti-veiling laws are symbolic strikes against a symbol, and are not enacted in order to have any kind of meaningful substantive effect. I further consider whether lessons can be learned from these themes as to the real reasons why states pass laws against Islamic veiling, and suggest, albeit speculatively, that there may be two such reasons. I argue that neither of these reasons would constitute justifiable bases for interfering with human rights, and thus that the veiling issue presents significant challenges as far as bodies like the European Court are concerned.

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