VEIL. Values, Equality and Differences in Liberal Democracies. Debates about Muslim Headscarves.

Funding institution: European Commission (6th Framework Programme)
Duration: March 2006 - February 2009
Coordinated by: Sieglinde Rosenberger and Birgit Sauer
Researchers: Ilker Ataç, Nora Gresch, Leila Hadj-Abdou

The VEIL Project focuses on the debates, conflicts and regulations concerning head- and body coverings of Muslim women in the public sphere, particularly in public institutions such as schools, universities and the courts. As a highly visible symbol of religious difference and conflicting values the Muslim headscarf has been the subject of heated debates across Europe and subjected to legal regulations in some European countries.

One of our assumptions is that in debates about the headscarf fundamental values and norms of liberal democracies are not only re-negotiated but collective identities re-constructed within the European integration process. Moreover, the issue reveals the gendered nature of values and norms that widely prevail in liberal democracies in Europe.

VEIL compares policy and media debates in eight European countries and the European Union. The aims of the project are: first, to map out and compare the fundamental values and political principles of the main actors in the headscarf debates and second, to explain the differences and similarities in the conflicting values as expressed in the policies on Muslim headscarves.