The French Headscarf Affair

Topics: Islam, Charles de Gaulle, France Pages: 4 (1196 words) Published: March 23, 2012
The Headscarf affair which took place in France during the 1990s is a clear representation of the French refusal to revise their national identity. As the rate of post-colonial migration rose, so did the population of Muslims living in France. This rise of Muslim population spurred the start of the Headscarf affair which was used as a tool, against Muslims, to prevent the revision of the French national identity. The affair was justified by three main reasons, 1) to protect the idea of Secularism, 2) to achieve a “visible integration” and 3) to prevent the inevitable Islamic invasion of France. These three justifications, when considered in conjunction with each other, are able to show how the Headscarf affair in France is representative of a French refusal to revise their national identity and incorporate their new post-colonial migrants into their society. The French held high the ideology of Republic Universalism, a notion that aimed to decrease traces of difference between people, resulting in a national ‘sameness’. From this, the idea of Secularism was formed which aimed to provide a clear barrier between the State and religion. If the French could succeed in executing the idea of Secularism, they could separate the state from religious practices which would in turn remove any “religious divides that exist in society” which would lead to a religious sameness which in turn would add to the national identity of France and would prevent a revision of this identity. The Headscarf affair became the French government’s tool to the protection of Secularism in France. In 1989 the affair began when headmaster Ernest Cheniere refused to let three girls, each wearing an Islamic Headscarf into school ‘on the grounds that it would contravene with the principle of Secularism.” The affair continued to gain momentum until in 1994 Francois Bayrou, the Minister for Education, put a ban on the wearing of any “Overt” religious symbols to school, with the aim of removing any...
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