La'cit Unveiled: A case study in human rights, religion, and culture in France
This paper examines the debate around the headscarf in France with the view to critically examining two central arguments put forward by the Stasi Commission for the restriction of the headscarf in French public schools-that the headscarf imperiled public order and that it jeopardized neutrality in the public sphere. In the case of the first argument, this paper argues that France did not meet the threshold requirement necessary to curtail religious rights in public schools. In the case of the second argument, this paper insists that neutrality in the pulic sphere has always involved some accommodation of religious groups in society and should include the headscarf in public schools. The paper argues that the decision to ban the headscarf is ultimately a controversy about French identity and the values on which the French community is built.