, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 457-467
Date: 21 Aug 2012

On the Edge of Solidarity: The Burqa and Public Life


Dislike among European publics for the Islamic full veil and the desire to ban it are often ascribed to nativist "Islamophobia." This article questions that assumption. It argues that, in political terms, the wearing of the burqa and niqab is inconsistent with Western norms of equality, the backbone of the citizenship ideal; and that, in social terms, the full veil erects a partition to interpersonal understanding and reciprocity. While the constitutional duty to protect religious freedom is a good argument in favor of tolerating the full veil, the practice of wearing it is at the edge of solidarity and injurious to the democratic public sphere.