Germany: Feminist against headscarves

Germany: Feminist against headscarves

(The Great Cover Up: For Integration, against Islamism)

Via Deutsche Welle:

Germany's best known and most outspoken feminist has called for a ban on headscarves for girls in German schools. Her new book, a plea for integration over Islamism, is likely to stir controversy.

The headscarf is more than just a piece of fabric, more than just another article of clothing, and definitely not some hip lifestyle accessory that heavily made-up girls should use to add a little color to their wardrobe. No, the head scarf is a "flag and symbol of Islamists" which "followed a crusade all the way to the heart of Europe by the 1980s." Or so says iconic German feminist Alice Schwarzer in her new book, "The Great Cover Up: For Integration, against Islamism".

The book was recently published in German under the name "Die grosse Verschleierung: Fuer Integration, gegen Islamismus," and its strong statements been an injection of yet more fuel into the already burning integration debate in Germany.

Teachers are no longer allowed to wear the head scarf in German public schools, and now Schwarzer has demanded the next step: Girls should be forbidden to wear it as well.

"Only this forceful act would finally give the young woman from a fundamentalist orthodox family the chance to move with freedom and equality, at least within the confines of the schoolyard," Schwarzer writes.


Schwarzer and her co-authors - the book includes articles by a number of journalists and activists - sum up the central conflict as being the opposition between the right to individuality and the right to equality:


Amidst such alarmist tones, it is almost surprising to find in the book a few sober facts that the journalist picked up from a recent study on Muslim women in Germany. For one: just a small minority of them actually wear a headscarf. Even among those who consider themselves "very religious," just half of the respondents said they covered their heads. Which means, conversely, that the vast majority of Muslims distance themselves from the fundamentalist dress code. And therefore from the Islamic organizations that dictate headscarves should be worn.

Schwarzer's aim is to take up a conversation with this large-but-quiet majority of Muslim women, and give them support. Up to now, Schwarzer says, Germany practiced "false dialogue" and "false tolerance." Dialog partners have been mostly representatives of fundamentalist organizations, and their demands have mostly been met, based on a fear of accusations of racism.