By Stephanie Cronin
In fresh 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 concerns contained inside those controversies – secularism as opposed to spiritual trust, person freedom as opposed to social or family members coercion, id as opposed to integration – aren't new yet are strikingly prefigured by means of prior conflicts. This booklet examines the state-sponsored anti-veiling campaigns which swept throughout extensive swathes of the Muslim international within the interwar interval, in particular in Turkey and the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and the Soviet republics of the Caucasus and principal Asia. It indicates how veiling was once formally discouraged and ridiculed as backward and, even though it was once infrequently banned, veiling was once politicized and become a rallying-point for a much broader competition. Asking a few questions about this past anti-veiling discourse and the rules flowing from it, and the reactions which it provoked, the booklet illuminates and contextualizes modern debates approximately gender, Islam and modernism.
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Extra resources for Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress
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. Complementing the vagueness of the term, a wide variety of interpretations may be observed among veiling women, depending on background. For the contemporary well-educated Islamist woman who asserts her decision to veil as one informed by choice and agency and a rejection of tradition, and for whom hijab is a public declaration of identity and piety, the most common form of dress is an international style of loose coat and headscarf, emphasizing her membership of the transnational umma.
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. The eruption in Europe of the controversy over the niqab, and indeed over Islamic clothing, hijab, in general, followed and was partly fuelled by the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and the placing of Afghan women’s emancipation at the centre of a new Western interventionist discourse.
41 Nonetheless, the eager male embrace of European fashion, at least from the neck down, served to emphasize more than ever before the apparently widening gulf separating the modern man from the still veiled and therefore backward woman. 42 The same authorities which encouraged and sometimes demanded the Europeanization and therefore modernization of men’s dress were still dominated by an entirely unmodernized view of gender. In stark contrast to the much contested and sometimes harshly imposed male clothing policies, nowhere did the imperial regimes of the pre-First World War decades even propose reforms to women’s dress.
Anti-Veiling Campaigns in the Muslim World: Gender, Modernism and the Politics of Dress by Stephanie Cronin