The French politic of the veil in relation to International law : Analyzis of the politic of the veil in France

University essay from Teologiska högskolan Stockholm/Avdelningen för mänskliga rättigheter

Abstract: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international conventions have been ratified by many countries, yet the basic freedoms established therein continue to be taken for granted. In recent years, the Islamic veil has been widely debated as an oppressive garment against Muslim women and a threat to Western secular democracy. This debate has led countries, including France, to take legal action to ban clothing that completely covers the face. France has professed itself as a secular state for centuries following its historical revolution, with a narrative of guaranteeing equal rights and opportunity to all citizens. However, this secular orientation has, in practice, led to a law that has created and promoted juridical and institutionalized inequality. This thesis discusses the prohibition of the veil in relation to basic human rights and freedoms established by the UDHR, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other relevant documents that hold the central idea of protection of religious freedom and expression. These documents will be analyzed alongside John Stuart Mill’s foundational philosophy on freedom. The main findings of this study are that the issue of the veil is complex, and its story must be understood before it can be judged. Muslim women who choose to wear the veil have a right to freedom of religion given by the UDHR. France is a signatory and therefore infringing on those rights is a violation of international law. This conclusion is supported by the theoretical foundations of freedom presented by John Stuart Mill and previous research that dealt with the issue of the veil in Western societies.

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