Monoculturalism versus Interculturalism in a Multicultural World
Politicians engage in cover-ups all the time. One device is to use commissions as distractions, as a method for stalling or to push apparent change while allowing substantive changes to go unattended. Yet governments, in fact all Western countries, have difficulty dealing with individuals who cover their faces. Faces are masked to hide (by criminals) or to frighten (during Halloween). In some cultures, faces are sometimes covered during mourning to discourage social intercourse and encourage respect for the privacy of grieving. Normally, individuals want to read another person's face as an interpretive part of a conversation. Hence, it is no surprise that wearing a burqa that completely covers the whole body and veils the eyes, or a niqab that shows only the eyes, is controversial. 2 However, the central artifact in this chapter is neither the burqa nor the niqab, but the hijäb, which is just a headscarf. However, it also has been interpreted as a threat, but only in a few jurisdictions.3 The hijäb is a symbol of 'demarcation, distinction, exclusion and discrimination'4 between Muslim and non-Muslim, between men and women, between tradition and modernity, and between acceptance and rejection (Senior 2007). Opposition to wearing the hijäb is identified in some societies with confronting a symbol of male oppression of women and extreme Islamicism. When the hijäb is banned in schools and government institutions, that ban arguably fosters commonality and reinforces a French (or German or Turkish) identity.5 When wearing the hijäb is tolerated, as in Canada, it arguably promotes acceptance and fosters migrant integration (Eisenstadt 2007). The hijäb then becomes the symbol of that tolerance and of the underlying political culture that largely determines integration norms.
Religion, culture, and the state: reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor report