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The Burqa Affair Across Europe: Between Public and Private Space

The Burqa Affair Across Europe
Between Public and Private Space
The Burqa Affair Across Europe

Edited by Alessandro Ferrari, University of Insubria, Italy and Sabrina Pastorelli, University of Milan, Italy Series : Cultural Diversity and Law in Association with RELIGARE Ashgate, 2013

In recent years, the wearing of the full-face veil or burqa/niqab has proved a controversial issue in many multi-cultural European societies.
Focussing on the socio-legal and human rights angle, this volume provides a useful comparative perspective on how the issue has been dealt with across a range of European states as well as at European institutional level. In so doing, the work draws a theoretical framework for the place of religion between public and private space. With contributions from leading experts from law, sociology and politics, the book presents a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to one of the most contentious and symbolic issues of recent times.


Introduction, Alessandro Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli; In praise of pragmatism, Silvio Ferrari; Burqa and Islam, Roberta Aluffi Beck-Peccoz; Burqa, niqab and women’s rights, Letizia Mancini; A besieged right:
religious freedom and the Italian war on the burqa and the niqab, Alessandro Ferrari; The burqa affair in France, Anne Fornerod; Legal and social issues concerning the wearing of the burqa and other head coverings in the United Kingdom, Mark Hill; Introducing a general burqa ban in the Netherlands, Adriaan Overbeeke; The burqa affair in Spain:
legal perspectives, Agustín Motilla; The Belgian ‘burqa ban’. Legal aspects of local and general prohibitions on covering and concealing one’s face in Belgium, Jogchum Vrielink, Saïla Ouald Chaib and Eva Brems; A quest for open helmets: on the Danish burqa affair, Lisbet Christoffersen; Burqa in Germany – not really an issue: a short note, Jörn Thielmann and Kathrin Vorholzer; The anti-burqa movement in Western Europe, Ralph Grillo and Prakash Shah; The burqa in Europe: European institutions and the comparative/interdisciplinary approach, Daniele Ferrari and Sabrina Pastorelli; Conclusion: the European burqa debates:
past, present and future, Maleiha Malik; The RELIGARE-Como declaration on the issue of the burqa; Index.

About the Editor:

Alessandro Ferrari teaches Law and Religion and Comparative Religious Laws at the University of Insubria (Como-Varese) and is also a member of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL-CNRS/École Pratique des Hautes Études-Sorbonne) and of Centre Prisme Politique, Religion, Institutions et Sociétés : Mutations Européennes of Strasbourg. He is the coordinator of the Inter-University project ‘New Religious Presences’ ( ) and member of the Conferenza Permanente Religioni, Cultura e Integrazione at the Italian Ministry for International Cooperation and Integration.

His main research interests focus on the present changes of the right of religious freedom in the globalized context. His latest book is Diritto e Religione nell’Islam Mediterraneo (Law and Religion in Mediterranean Islam) (Il Mulino, Bologna, 2012).

Sabrina Pastorelli is Research Fellow at the Institute of International Law – section of Ecclesiastical and Canon Law – University of Milan, Faculty of Law. She is also a member of the Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL-CNRS/École Pratique des Hautes Études-Sorbonne) and the Centre Politique, Religion, Institutions et Sociétés : Mutations Européennes (PRISME-CNRS/University of Strasbourg). She teaches sociology of religion and political sociology at the University of Caen.
Her research interests include sociology of religion; new religious movements; law and religion in the Europe; religious education; regulation of religious pluralism; state public policy and religion. She is a member of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR), the Association internationale des sociologues de langue française (AISLF), the Italian Sociological Association (AIS), the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR).


‘This book poses a substantial challenge to those who would limit religious freedom in Europe by banning Muslim women’s full-face covering, commonly called burqa. The authors place the legal issues in a broader political, social and cultural context. In so doing, they expose the questionable grounds for banning the burqa in France and Belgium and of proposals elsewhere.’ Jørgen S. Nielsen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

‘This volume is a milestone of legal and sociological research regarding one of the most heated European debates on religion in public space. It follows a most welcome and urgently needed pragmatic approach in accordance with European guarantees of human rights – a benchmark for future reflections.’
Mathias Rohe, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany _______________________________________________