VEIL- Values, Equality and Differences in Liberal Democracies; Debates over Female Muslim Headscarves in Europe


Dissertation project

This PhD research is part of a European project, called VEIL, in which eight different European countries participate. VEIL focuses on the debates and regulations concerning head- and body covering of Muslim women in the public sphere, particularly in public institutions such as schools, universities and courts. One of the assumptions of VEIL is that in these debates fundamental norms and values of liberal democracies are re-negotiated, and collective identities re-constructed within the European integration process. Moreover, the issue reveals the gendered nature of values and norms that widely prevail in liberal democracies in Europe.

VEIL compares policy and media debates in eight European countries and the European Union, in order to, first, map out and compare the fundamental values and political principles of the main actors in the headscarf debates, for which it uses a gender-critical frame analysis of documents (e.g. court verdicts, laws, parliamentary debates, media articles). Second, it aims to explain the differences and similarities in these debates and policies. It suspects the importance of national contexts and will therefore incorporate a comparative analysis of the eight countries, which focuses on their citizenship regimes and immigration policies, on gender regimes and the relationship between the state and religious communities or institutions.

Eventually, the project will result in recommendations for national and European policymakers for dealing with cultural and religious diversity, while reckoning with gender equality.