In response to rising immigration flows and the fear of Islamic radicalization, several Western countries have enacted policies to restrict religious expression and emphasize secularism and Western values. Despite intense public debate, there is little systematic evidence on how such policies influence the behavior of the religious minorities they target. In this paper, we use rich quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the effects of the 2004 French headscarf ban on the socioeconomic integration of French Muslim women. We find that the law reduces the secondary educational attainment of Muslim girls and affects their trajectory in the labor market and family composition in the long run. We provide evidence that the ban operates through increased perceptions of discrimination and that it strengthens both national and religious identities.
AbstractIn late 2010, Azerbaijan tried to introduce a ban on hijab in all secondary schools, referring to an article of the new Law of Education that mandated school uniforms. The supporters of the ban argued that the hijab was inimical to Azerbaijani culture and law because it violated the separation of religion and state, was a propaganda tool of Islamist fundamentalists funded from abroad, and was a foreign form of clothing that did not exist in Azerbaijani culture. This article examines why hijab is the focus of controversy in Azerbaijan. The supporters of the ban offered simple oppositions, such as secularism versus theocracy, modernity versus backwardness, and national versus foreign, to explain and justify the ban. However, these dichotomies do not capture the complexities of Islam in Azerbaijan. Rather, they are polemics that blur more than they reveal. In this article, I argue that the debates around the hijab controversy in Azerbaijan are a political discourse aimed at building a nation. The key contribution of this article is to examine the wider historical trajectory of the political discourse that constructed hijab as fundamentalist, backward, threatening, and alien, through discussing the topics of secularism, Islamist politics, modernity, and nationalism.
How does international context influence state policies toward religious minorities? Using parliamentary proceedings, court decisions, newspaper archives, and interviews, this book is the first systematic study that employs international context in the study of state policies toward religion, and that compares Turkey and France with regard to religious minorities. Comparing Christians in Turkey and Muslims in France, this book argues that policy change toward minorities becomes possible when strong domestic actors find a suitable international context that can help them execute their policy agendas. The Turkish Islamists used the European Union to transform the Turkish politics that brought a reformist moment for Christians in the 2000s. The Far Right in France utilized the rise of Islamophobia in Europe to adopt restrictive policies toward Muslims. Ramazan Kılınç argues that the presence of an international context that can favor particular groups over others, shifts the domestic balance of power, and makes some policies more likely to be implemented than others.
This book is among the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of the causes of religious discrimination to date, complete with detailed illustrations and anecdotes. Jonathan Fox examines the causes of government-based religious discrimination (GRD) against 771 minorities in 183 countries over the course of twenty-five years, while offering possible reasons for why some minorities are discriminated against more than others. Fox illustrates the complexities inherent in the causes of GRD, which can emerge from secular ideologies, religious monopolies, anti-cult policies, security concerns and more. Western democracies tend to discriminate more than Christian-majority countries in the developing world, whether they are democratic or not. While the causes of GRD are ubiquitous, they play out in vastly different ways across world regions and religious traditions. This book serves as a method for better understanding this particular form of discrimiation, so that we may have the tools to better combat it and foster compassion across people of different religions and cultures.