Master's Theses

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Department

International Relations

Keywords

Headscarf, Multicultualism, secularism

Abstract

"Thanks to the deepening of globalization, we live in an increasingly diverse world. International migratory patterns bring people of different, often less familiar, cultures to other parts of the world, including the West. For some, assimilation into a dominant culture and broader national identity seems appropriate; for others who want to preserve their unique identity, there is a struggle in accommodating to the new norms and behaviors of their host country. This paper attempts to survey the challenges of multiculturalism; more specifically, it reviews the difficulty in integrating non-western norms into western culture. As I will discuss in greater detail, I hypothesize that even though in some situations non-western culture seems threatening to western culture, this should not serve as a pretext for the abrogation for human rights, except when harm to self or society will result. In order to defend my hypothesis, I will use the case of the headscarf – a controversial piece of cloth that has shaken up governments and societies throughout Europe. Although it represents non-western culture in its mildest form, it has come to be perceived as threatening to the western principles of secularism and gender equality. I will use the case studies of France and Turkey to examine the issue. While both countries have overlapping but also varying reasons for finding the veil threatening, they have cited the separation of church and state as justification for banning the headscarf. As no harm can be proven, this to me is an abrogation of human rights, including freedom of religious expression, the right to education and most importantly, the freedom to choose."

 
 

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