The prohibition of the full-face veil in Belgium: between collective hysteria and symbolic policy

Publication date:
Corinne Torrekens, Investigadora asociada, Groupe de recherche sur les Relations Ethniques, les Migrations et l’Égalité (GERME), Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Directora, DiverCity, ULB

This article analyses the debate on the prohibition of the full-face veil in Belgium, which was finalised in a law approved in March 2010 by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives after a discussion process in the public sphere and Parliament. First, the context of growing opposition to the visibility of Islam in the public space out which a demand for a federal law prohibiting the full-face veil emerged is presented; then, the gradual process of the law's adoption is reviewed; and, finally, the discourse and arguments used in the debate by the law’s defenders and detractors are analysed. In the light of this analysis, by way of conclusion, the article points out that this prohibition may be considered an attempt to domesticate Islam and draw a clear line between legitimate and illegitimate Islam.

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