Oxford study defends Islamic veil, claims it helps integration


A leading team of sociologists from the University of Oxford published an article claiming that Muslim women veil themselves “because they engage in a modern, secular world”, arguing that the bans “deprive them of a means … Integration ”.

The paper, published this month in the European Sociological Review, is considered the first empirical study on “why the wearing of the veil should increase with modernization”, according to on the Oxford website.

The team, which included a member of the British Academy and the European Academy of Sociology, drew on data from Belgium, Turkey and 25 Muslim countries. They looked at the women who were forced to wear the garment, as well as those who claimed to have chosen it.

They observe that “there is anecdotal evidence that since the late 20th century, educated, urban Muslim young women veil more frequently and strictly.” This goes against trends in other religions, where people are becoming more casual in their dress.

The study found that the more educated women in Turkey were more likely to wear the veil. In Belgium, very religious Muslim women who rubbed shoulders with non-Muslims used the veil more than very religious Muslim women who did not have as much contact with the indigenous population.

The central idea of ​​their argument is therefore that Muslim women increasingly veil themselves in order to present themselves as strictly Islamic to their own community – “a sign of piety” – and thus protect themselves from the attacks and shame of others. Muslims, while they break other Islamic taboos. like leaving the house without men and talking to non-Muslims.

(AAMIR QURESHI / AFP / Getty Images)

“… For highly religious women, the factors of modernization increase the risk and the temptation in female environments which jeopardize their reputation for modesty: the veil would then be a strategic response, a form of commitment to prevent the violation of religious norms, or signaling the piety of women to their communities, ”write the authors.

The best-known author, Diego Gambetta, is a social scientist of Italian origin. He is professor of social theory at the European University Institute in Florence and an official member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He said:

“Unlike the populist song that now seems dominant in Europe, the veil could be a sign of greater integration rather than less integration. Banning or avoiding the veil would deprive them of a means that would allow them more opportunities for integration rather than marking their differences.

Study author Dr Ozan Aksoy from the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, said: “There are important implications for policymakers, because if the option to wear a veil was withdrawn to Muslim women, they would come across more expensive means of proving their piety. .

“A veil is considered an authentic expression of a woman’s religiosity. Paradoxically, it is the women who enter the modern world who seem to rely on the veil to signal to others that they will not succumb to the temptations of modern city life.

About Michael G. Walter

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