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Islamic Veiling in Legal Discourse looks at relevant law and surrounding discourses in order to examine the assumptions and limits of the debates around the issue of Islamic veiling that has become so topical in recent years. For some, Islamic veiling indicates a lack of autonomy, the oppression of women and the threat of Islamic radicalism to western secular values. For others, it suggests a positive autonomous choice, a new kind of gender equality and a legitimate exercise of one's freedom of religion - a treasured right in democratic societies.
This book finds that, across seemingly diverse legal and political traditions, a set of discursive frameworks - the preoccupation with autonomy and choice; the imperative of gender equality; and a particular western understanding of religion and religious subjectivity - shape the positions of both proponents and opponents of various restrictions on Islamic veiling. Rather than take a position on one or the other side of the debate, the book focuses on the frameworks themselves, highlighting their limitations.