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The Islamic Headscarf: An Example of Surmountable Conflict between Sharî'a and the Fundamental Principles of Europe

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The demand by certain Muslims living in Europe to wear the Islamic headscarf has led to important cases, before the courts of the Member States of the Union as much as before the European Court of Human Rights, above all with regard to public education. The Court of Human Rights and the Member States have taken different positions concerning the licitness of wearing the headscarf. The solutions adopted are, in fact, strongly influenced by the classical concept of relations between Church and State. In schools in Germany, where a relationship of cooperation exists between Church and State, the wearing of the veil is allowed, but only for the pupils, not for their teachers. In France, which has a model of strict separation between Church and State, neither teachers nor pupils are allowed to wear the veil. The tensions linked to wearing of the headscarf are but one example of conflict between sharî'a and the fundamental principles of Europe. These conflicts are not insurmountable. However, they do require efforts from both sides. The EU and the Member States must break with discriminatory practices against Muslims. The Muslims of Europe must construct a ‘European Islam’, re-reading sacred texts in light of the characteristics and the values of the European societies in which they live.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Max-Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg, Allemagne)

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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