The Muslim Ban in France

Sebastian Cordero Velastegui

Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité” or “Laïcité, Egalité et Fraternité?” That is the question.

To think of French migration as a monolithic phenomenon is simplistic; due the country’s history and its peculiar notion of nationality, the integration of its immigrants is more complex than in other nations. In the words of Simon Patrick, one can only be French and French only, rejecting other values and traditions that do not fit into the traditional French narrative. At first sight, this approach to what belonging is seems to be exclusionary and discriminatory. Nevertheless, upon deeper insight, the foundations of such values are based on the secular, universal idea of what the French nation should look like.

Throughout this course, we have analyzed the theme of integration of immigrants and how French values can either hinder or promote it. One of the themes that are of special interest to me—and simultaneously an ongoing debate in French politics—is that of the Muslim veil ban. As such, this website will bring evidence from course materials as well as independent research to explore what exactly defines someone as “French” when they wear a Muslim scarf.

Through a recount of French history on nationality law, the effects of post-colonialism, and the definition of what it means “to be French”, I argue that the ban on wearing religious symbols in public is a trade-off between freedom (liberté) and secularity (laïcité), both foundational values of the French nation that cannot coexist under the Veil Ban. 

The Muslim Ban in France by Sebastian Cordero Velastegui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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