By Stephanie Cronin
In contemporary years sour controversies have erupted throughout Europe and the center East approximately women’s veiling, and particularly their donning of the face-veil or niqab. but the deeper matters contained inside those controversies – secularism as opposed to non secular trust, person freedom as opposed to social or kinfolk coercion, id as opposed to integration – should not new yet are strikingly prefigured through past conflicts. This publication examines the state-sponsored anti-veiling campaigns which swept throughout extensive swathes of the Muslim global within the interwar interval, specifically in Turkey and the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and the Soviet republics of the Caucasus and vital Asia. It indicates how veiling used to be formally discouraged and ridiculed as backward and, even though it used to be infrequently banned, veiling was once politicized and changed into a rallying-point for a much wider competition. Asking a few questions about this prior anti-veiling discourse and the regulations flowing from it, and the reactions which it provoked, the e-book illuminates and contextualizes modern debates approximately gender, Islam and modernism.
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Extra info for Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress
Polemics about the niqab, furthermore, transcended the usual fault lines of French politics, with support for the ban able to draw on a long tradition of secularism and anti-clericalism on the French Left, the usual first line of defence for immigrant rights. The controversy in France over the face-veil, which followed a long, similarly articulated dispute over the wearing of the headscarf in French schools, was particularly sharp, but found echoes across Western Europe. 2 Both sides claimed to speak for women’s empowerment and agency, but were divided by issues of secularism versus religious belief, individual freedom versus social and family coercion and identity versus integration.
16 Across the Muslim world a counter-discourse emerged, denouncing gender modernism, and the opposition to veiling in particular, as an effort to copy or mimic the West. It was argued that the modernists’ treacherous embrace of European motifs hostile to Islam was a threat to the entire social order, endangering the moral purity of women and raising the spectre of chaos, of society being riven by fitna or turmoil. By the early twentieth century a modernist gender discourse had taken shape and had immediately evoked a counter-discourse.
In fact, contemporary debates demonstrate considerable semantic and conceptual confusion regarding the veil, a confusion which is a reflection of an actually diverse reality. This actual diversity has, however, been largely ignored in the debates, as each side has struggled to impose its own interpretation of veiling. The more commonly used word hijab possesses a range of possible meanings. It might imply a general demeanour of modesty in public, and might also refer to any variety of headscarf worn by Muslim women, perhaps also to loose robes enveloping the body, sometimes but not necessarily including the face-veil.