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To Veil or not to Veil

Europe’s Shape-Shifting ‘Other’


Kamakshi P. Murti

Immigration has become a contentious issue in Europe in recent decades, with immigrants being accused of resisting integration and threatening the secular fabric of nationhood. The most extreme form of this unease has invented and demonized an Islamic ‘other’ within Europe. This book poses central questions about this global staging of difference. How has such anxiety increased exponentially since 9/11? Why has the Muslim veil been singled out as a metaphor in debates about citizenship? Lastly, and most fundamentally, who sets the criteria for constructing the ideal citizen?
This study explores the issue of gender and immigration in the national contexts of Germany and France, where the largest minority populations are from Turkey and North Africa, respectively. The author analyzes fictional works by the Turkish-German writers Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Zafer Şenocak and by Francophone writer Malika Mokeddem. All three deconstruct binary oppositions and envision an alternate third space that allows them to break out of the confines of organized religion. In the latter part of the book, the voices of young Muslim women are foregrounded through interviews. The concluding chapter on the pedagogical tool Deliberative Dialogue suggests ways to navigate such contentious issues in the Humanities classroom.


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CHAPTER V The Hijab as Metaphor for Linguistic Terrorism


As if for centuries She sat there Instinctively veiling her face as the men came in Unveiling it as soon as they left. — MacDonald 207 Being truthful: being in the in-between of all definitions of truth — Minh-Ha 13 Mokeddem’s question framed in the grammatical future: “Where will you come from?” (MM 169) wills woman to choose her own past, present, and future. Yet, the twenty-first century has led to an intensification of debates about the female body, as the abortion ultrasound debate in the US shows.1 Some have likened the vaginal ultrasound to state-sponsored rape. Studies purporting to establish causal links between abortion and women’s health, along with repeated attempts to reverse Roe v. Wade2 (arguments about “personhood” and “heartbeat”) all harbor the intense anxiety right-wing anti-choice politicians are experiencing about relinquishing control over women’s bodies. The conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” remarks are particularly distressing because they reveal the mounting ease with which such malicious and wanton statements are surfacing.3 1 Under this legislation, women who want an abortion will have to undergo a “vaginal probe” for no medical reason. 2 A landmark decision (1973) by the United States Supreme Court to legalize abortion under most conditions. 3 On February 29, 2012, Limbaugh called Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” when talking about Fluke’s speech supporting insurance coverage for contraceptives. 126 CHAPTER V I return now to the second of the three questions posed in the intro- duction to this book: Why...

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