The Gender of Islamophobia: Intersectional Discrimination and the 'Islamic Headscarves' Jurisprudence

Rising Islamophobia in public discourses on national identity, immigration and terrorism has made religious discrimination a pressing issue, often crystallising around the headscarf question. Women wearing Islamic veils regularly confront sexist and racist stereotypes, entangled with culturo-religious animosity. This form of intersectional discrimination has however not been challenged by courts. The US landmark case Abercrombie & Fitch (2015) and the two CJEU headscarf cases Achbita and Bougnaoui (2017) were framed as religious discrimination solely, ignoring the racial and gender aspects. Using intersectionality as a framework, this paper deconstructs the concept of religious neutrality operating in these decisions and argues that despite different outcomes, they fail to unmask and redress (1) the racialisation of Islam in public rhetoric; (2) the conflation of religious neutrality and cultural hostility; (3) the oppressive effects of these discourses on women’s bodies and autonomy.