Should the ‘veil’ be banned in higher education?

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University World News

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It seems that the French never tire of debating the role of religion in public life. Or perhaps the concept of laïcité, a uniquely French model of secularism, just keeps tangling them up in political knots.

The most recent dispute over the wearing of the Islamic veil by French university students has once again laid bare the problems and paradoxes of a nation struggling to apply a revered historical principle to a rapidly changing social environment. It also reveals how the discourse and practice of laïcité have become caught in a time warp.

In early August, the French daily newspaper Le Monde made public “an alarmist report and polemic proposition” prepared by the Secular Mission of France’s High Council for Integration, or HCI.

Based on interviews with faculty, administrators and others, the study claimed to have found increasing incidents that threatened laïcité and left university authorities searching for a solution.