The ambivalent role of the gender equality argument in the legal treatment of the Muslim veil: A Franco-German Analysis

Despite the fact that ADL prohibits differences of treatment on the ground of religious and gender, French Law allows State as well asprivate employers to refuse to hire certain women because of their religious practices (eg. veiling); it prohibits some Muslim women from being in public spaces (eg. the street) when wearing a niqab; it may strip new citizens from their nationality if they are found to betray fundamental republican values (by refusing, for instance, to shake hands with an official representative during a nationality ceremony). The argument of gender equality plays a central role in all these legal responses to visible expressions of Islam -together with an argument of integration. This paper reflects on such normative justifications and contrasts them with their German counterparts. The parallel examination of both national debates helps to reflect on what exactly is the scope and the meaning of this gender equality argument in religious freedom debates.