132.8 The Islamic veil in the western countries: Human right or sign of separation?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Francesca SCAMARDELLA , Philosophy of Law, University of Naples, , Naples, Italy
Aim of this paper is to explore the real nature of the Muslim veil: is it a fundamental right that reveals female identity or is it just a barrier that increases cultural separation? And how contemporary democracies should manage this issue moving on boundaries between private and public sphere?

The paper will be divided into three parts. The first part will concern basic assumptions of a symbol, as an ‘invisible reality-force that reveals itself only through effects’ (Limone 1997: 31).

I will devote the second part of my paper to the Muslim veil as a religious symbol, starting from the interpretation of Koran verses.

The third part will concern a socio-legal analysis of French legal system about the right to wear the veil in public spaces, in order to understand if the veil is a human right or a sign of cultural separation among races. I have chosen this country because it is a strong example of legal system that does not recognize the veil as a potential human right.

The question can be put in these terms: should we say that Western democracies are not able to protect and implement human rights in a context of reciprocal recognition? In a multicultural society the inclusion of every form of life that has rights consists of the recognition for everybody to have “the opportunity to grow up in the world of cultural heritage and to have his or her children grown up in it without suffering discrimination because of it” (Habermas 1994: 131-132). The possibility for the Muslim veil to be a fundamental right will depend on socio-political will to create a space of sharing, where everybody, adopting the behaviour of reciprocal solidarity, can argue the reasonableness and validity of his/her own claims, trying to justify them for their universalization.