by N Mustafa · 2020 — with a skirt attached. Hijab: clothing covering the head and neck, leaving the face visible. Niqab: Clothing covering a woman’s face, leaving her eyes visible Meld_Islamofobie_jaarrapport_2015_definitief.pdf). 31. European Network

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2 | Flex Crops & CommoditiesAUTHOR: Nawal MustafaEDITORS: Jane Kilpatrick, Niamh Ní BhriainDESIGN: Karen Paalman PRINTED BY: Jubels, AmsterdamPublished by Transnational Institute – www.tni.orgAmsterdam, December 2020Disclaimer: The content of this report represents the views of the Transnational Institute and the named authors and is their sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains. Contents of the report may be quoted or reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the source of information is properly cited. TNI would appreciate receiving a copy or link of the text in which this document is used or cited. Please note that for some images the copyright may lie elsewhere and copyright conditions of those images are those pertaining to the copyright terms of the original source.

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Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europe 3Table of ContentsIntroduction 4Muslims stereotypes and fiEuropeannessfl 4The Hyper (in)visibilisation of Muslim Women in Society 6Islamophobic Legislation in Europe Œ A ban on Muslim women™s right 8to choose their own clothingSome States in focus 9Ł France 9Ł Germany 9Ł The Netherlands 10Ł Belgium 10Legal Challenges 11Ł European Court of Justice (CJEU) 11Ł European Court of Human Rights 13Gendered Islamophobia and Feminism 14Conclusion 15Glossary of TermsBurka: clothing that covers a woman™s face, including her eyesBurkini: a bathing suit adapted to cover the body from head to ankles, with a skirt attachedHijab: clothing covering the head and neck, leaving the face visibleNiqab: Clothing covering a woman™s face, leaving her eyes visible

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4 Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in EuropeIntroduction Upon declaring a Global War on Terror in 2001, and dignity of womenfl. 1 In the years that followed, western political discourse regularly referred to the need to fifreefl apparently oppressed Muslim women from the shackles of their religion and way of life, reviving political and societal debates about head coverings, integration, gender equality, secularism, and neutrality. Relying on Islamophobic stereotypes, and with no regard for the rights to freedom of expression or freedom of religion, laws and policies were introduced in a number of European countries, which banned the hijab and/ just how entrenched Islamophobia has become, Muslim women™s bodies, dictating which clothes they could or could not wear. In the post 9/11 era, political discourse increasingly pointed towards an apparent incompatibility between what it is to be European and what it is to be Muslim; it seemed impossible to be both.2 Although anti-Muslim rhetoric has implications for all Muslims, much of the legislation rolled out Much can be said about the increased policing of Muslims collectively and the systematic targeting of Islamic places of worship, but Muslim women, in particular, have borne the brunt of state led, racist laws and policies. Those who wear head and have thus become easy targets.3 Following bans on Islamic dress, Muslim women have found themselves increasingly vulnerable and exposed to gendered Islamophobic attacks, while their rights to religious freedom, freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination have been sidelined or ignored. Attacks motivated predominantly by religion and gender have largely been normalised. 4 because it is religious attire, politicians have also used arguments based on security and a need to see people™s faces at all times. Laws based on that any item of clothing obscuring a person™s face would be forbidden, or that an item of clothing that clearly expressed any religion could be covered by a ban. However, laws that are prima facie neutral can than others. As a result of the bans discussed here it is far more likely that Muslim women will be confronted with limits to their religious and professional discrimination or educational exclusion because of upholding their choice of expression.Muslims stereotypes and fiEuropeannessfl To understand Islamophobia solely as a by-product of the War on Terror leads to a limited and skewed understanding of how deeply rooted Islamophobia or Anti-Muslim racism actually is in the cultural, historical and political archive of Western European countries.5 Arguably, the perception of Islam and the characterisation of the fiMuslim Otherfl began to form as early as the 7 th century when the Byzantium Empire started to conquer large parts of the world and moved slowly towards the European continent. 6 Ever since, the religion of Islam, and those who practice it, have been seen as a threat to what we have come to consider fithe Western way of lifefl. With a growing number of Europeans who identify as Muslim, old stereotypes have resurfaced and religion of Islam, are perceived.7 The establishment of European imperial power required both territorial domination and sexual control. 8 Whereas Muslim men were presented as the violent other, Muslim women were thought to be submissive, hidden away either in a fiharemfl or behind a veil. 9 Before the colonial conquest started, countries in Africa and Asia were depicted as sensual

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Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europe 5places where people engaged in transgressive sexual behaviour. 10 In order to justify and maintain colonial rule, notions of race, class, sexuality and gender the populations encountered.11 veiled Muslim woman has historically, as well as contemporarily, been seen both as oppressed by their male counterpart and therefore in need of saving, while at the same time exoticized.12 the wars declared by Western powers on Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively, was the stereotype of the Muslim woman in need of saving.13 Oppression of women was portrayed as a sign and extension of Islamist fundamentalism. Within Europe, the same idea was used to underscore Muslim fiothernessfl and as a sign of their failure to integrate in European society. 14 Western states often point to advances with regard to women™s and LGBTIQ+ rights to uphold or emphasize their image as liberal and progressive nations. They consider that veiled Muslim women are at odds with, or contradict this progress or liberation, and thus need to be guided towards living a more fiEuropean way of lifefl.15 This theoretical opposition has also grown from misunderstandings, fear and prejudice about migration. Muslim women™s clothing choices are seen by some as a visible demonstration of an external, opposing culture. Head or face coverings are presented as evidence of gender inequality and therefore, are apparently incompatible with European, democratic values.16 A review by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) of presenting negative stereotypes of Muslim women as opposing national values, particularly promoting the fear of an fiIslamic invasionfl. 17 The invention of national cultural distinctiveness Œ a reaction to Under Ursula von der Leyen™s European Commission, the position of European Commissioner for Protecting the European Way of Life was created, raising serious questions over whether there is a particularly fiEuropeanfl way of life, before even asking if it needs protecting at all, or what it needs protection from. 18 The fact that the portfolio for this role includes the EU™s migration and asylum policy adds a particularly concerning dimension to the last question.By depicting Muslim men as violent and oppressive, and Muslim women as in need of liberation, old stereotypical constructs continue to maintain currency. It would appear that being free actually means fibeing more like us in the westfl and has very little to do with actual freedom at all. 19 This approach decontextualizes Muslim women™s behaviour, relying on the assumption that women who wear a veil in Europe do so for the same reasons as a woman in a state such as Iran or Saudi Arabia where she would face negative consequences for not wearing one. 20 It misses an important positive religion, in the pursuit and prioritisation of the finegative freedom from being forced to wear or display religious symbolsfl.21 Legislation passed in many European countries removes Muslim women™s right to freely choose their own clothes, which human rights. It also serves to create and maintain a hostile environment towards anyone who does Where Muslim women have been consulted, many refer to personal choice – how to express their personal religious beliefs, how to reinforce those beliefs for themselves, how to assert independence from the mainstream narrative and assert an individual

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6 Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europeidentity, are all cited as reasons to wear a hijab, burka or niqab. 22 Others attention, regarding the modesty created in wearing the garment itself as liberation. 23 Indeed, any women who truly were subjects of coercion into wearing a head or face covering would be all the more isolated for being excluded from public life due to public bans or public displeasure at their clothing. The Hyper (in)visibilisation of Muslim Women in SocietyWomen who choose to express their religious identity by wearing Islamic dress are easily target of hate crimes and discrimination.24 Gendered Islamophobic attacks are not isolated, individualised incidents. European governments have been driving legislation and policy that normalise and institutionalise gendered Islamophobia. Regardless of the apparent intent behind such legislation to liberate or save women, by identifying an Islamic dress code as a symbol that is incompatible with the West, European governments are oppressing Muslim women and have paved the way for violence against them.It should be noted that beyond the countries where legislation and policies have been introduced restricting Muslim women™s wearing of religious attire, political narratives have also discriminated against Muslim women. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson™s remarks about women who wear burkas serve as a particularly disturbing case in point. 25 The impact of his words Œ comparing women wearing a burqa to filetterboxesfl and fibank robbersfl Œ was evidenced in a 375% rise in Islamophobic attacks in the following weeks. 26 Furthermore, although legislation may target a particular aspect of Muslim dress, for example banning a full-face covering, the impact is felt by all Muslim women. Regardless of the attire they wear, the fact that a state legislates against any aspect of Muslim clothing conveys a message across society that Muslim women are suspicious, oppressed, outsiders, or a number of other negative connotations, that expose them to racist attacks whether they wear a burka, hijab or other items to express their faith. Gaps in public research have made Muslim women™s experiences less visible. France, for instance, does not collect data on discrimination in government evaluations,27 while in Belgium the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has also pointed out a lack of meaningful data on the impact of bans on religious clothing. 28 Where Muslim women™s voices are sought out, a simultaneous phenomenon of self-censorship presents a further impediment. The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) reported in 2009 that 38 in reporting Islamophobia that they saw as part of their daily life, with some even expecting negative consequences such as loss of employment if they reported discrimination.29Muslim women are both hyper-visible but simultaneously invisibilised. Their bodies, their clothing and religious attire have become a political battleground in Europe. Anti-Muslim legislation has severely affected how they live their daily lives, as evidenced in their collective experience of gendered Islamophobia.According to Meld Islamofobie, an independent, women-led citizens™ initiative that collects incidents of Islamophobic violence in the Netherlands, in 2015 89 percent of the perpetrators of physical or verbal Islamophobic violence were white, and 82 percent of the violence was committed by men. At the same time, 91 percent of the victims were

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8 Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in EuropeIslamophobic Legislation in Europe Œ A ban on Muslim women™s right to choose their own clothingThe notion that there are apparently irreconcilable what it is to be European is gaining traction. By presenting Islam, and by extension Muslims, as a threat to a fiEuropean way of life and freedomfl and the hijab, niqab or burka as the foremost symbol of that fithreatfl, violence and hostility directed towards Muslim women is normalised, legitimized and institutionalized through government policy and legislation under the pretext that such legislation will fiset them freefl.The rights of Muslim women to freedom of religion and freedom of expression, as enshrined under International and European Human Rights Law, are consistently problematized, politicized, ignored, and violated by European governments, and Muslim women themselves are left entirely out of discussions on legislation that directly affects them.43 Muslim women to wear the hijab, niqab or burka in public spaces is that such action is needed to protect women who are being forced in to wearing such attire. This analysis entirely misses the point that many Muslim women freely choose to wear the hijab or niqab. Indeed, Muslim women in Europe have overwhelmingly cited fipersonal choice and expressing their identity and religionfl as their main reason to wear a veil.44 However, their agency in choosing their own attire while simultaneously exercising their right to freedom of expression and religion is increasingly being encroached upon by restrictive legislation in various European states. The right to not wear a hijab or niqab should by default encompass the right to wear it, if we are to apply the basic feminist assumption of women having the choice to control their own bodies and by extension of that the way they dress.The table below includes a list of European countries where a ban on a full-face covering in public spaces has been introduced in law or policy:45 General National Ban on full face covering Ban on full face covering General Localised Ban on full face covering Ban on full face coveringBelgiumBulgariaDenmarkFranceLatviaLuxembourgAustriaBosnia and Herzegovina NorwayThe NetherlandsKosovoBelgiumSwitzerlandGermany Œ in schools and public institutionsItalySpainSweden

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Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europe 9Some States in focusFranceThe French concept of laïcité, or secularism, is perhaps one of the most pronounced examples of the Church and State divide in Europe, and has symbols in public life, including Muslim attire. 46 The French Constitution does not recognise minorities tension and struggle.47 As such, French secularism ensures that people are not ficonfrontedfl by the religions of others, rather than pursuing a secularism that protects the right to practice any and no religion equally. A 2002 publication of school teachers™ testimonies presented the observation that Muslim students were fiwithdrawingfl into their own communities, fuelling a new focus on the preservation of cohesion and public order in schools. 48 Under the mandate of former president Jacques Chirac, the Stasi commission led by Bernard Stasi sought ways to implement the principle of laïcité , with one of the commission™s recommendations being to ban ‚religious symbols in schoolsfl.49 The ban on fiostentatiousfl religious clothing was quickly adopted as a law and was formally implemented in September 2004, applying to both students and teachers. 50 Following the 2004 law, administrative and private courts have ruled against students who claimed it was their right to wear a veil in primary and secondary public schools. 51 fiOstentatious religious clothingfl seems to include long skirts; several Muslim girls have been excluded from school because of wearing a long skirt, despite no explicit legislation that includes long skirts. Students of other religions seem not to have been impacted.52A 2010 law adopted by the General Assembly prohibited wearing veils covering the whole face in public spaces. 53 A Circular adopted the following year asserted that life in society required everyone to show their face, and that Muslim women covering their faces were in a position of inferiority.54 Hostility towards Muslim women in public spaces in France was perhaps most overt in 2016, when images were published worldwide of male police she was apparently made to remove her burkini. 55 Municipal prohibitions of the burkini were upheld by courts. The administrative tribunal in Nice referred to the state of emergency in place in France since 2015 to assert that wearing a burkini at the beach could disrupt public order. 56 However, a later Council of State decision stated that a burkini order or hygiene and decency. 57 The original Nice administration™s reasoning directly collated the burkini with religious fundamentalism, by declaring it an inappropriate expression of religious belief due to the incompatibility of religious fundamentalism with French values, as well as referring to gender were used to distract from the racist root of the problem. 58 In some municipalities, public order grounds were upheld because of the likelihood that others™ negative reactions to seeing a burkini might increase tension. The court even claimed not discriminatory.59GermanyA ban on niqab and face-covering veils has been discussed in the Bundestag, though no national ban for public places has been enacted. However, this has not meant that Muslim women have had genuine freedom to choose what to wear. In schools, there appears to be a measure of reasonable accommodation sought to make it easier for students to wear religious clothing, and private schools have a measure of discretion over students™

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10 Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europedress codes. 60 In 2003, the Federal Constitutional Court held that a prohibition on teachers wearing a hijab was unlawful because it had no adequate legal basis.61 For such a ban to be lawful, according to the Federal Court, the relevant federal state would elected legislature to justify the limits on freedom of religion (protected in the German Constitution article 4). 62 Following this ruling, many states did introduce such legislature prohibiting state-school that as only women wore veils, it sent a message of gender-inequality to children.63In 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled that banning a disproportionate infringement on freedom of religion. 64 Only the aversion of danger or disturbance of public order, or protecting the neutrality of the state, were permissible reasons to impose a ban. However, while there is no legislation supporting bans on religious clothing in public such as judges, prosecutors and trainees, can be made to remove religious clothing to uphold the principle of neutrality. 65 This principle has also been applied to state-school teachers in Berlin. 66 Muslim women who wear hijab are protected in that the Federal Labour Court does not allow dismissal because of their clothing, though it does wear a veil under the aforementioned principle of religious community.67The NetherlandsThe wearing of the headscarf in the Netherlands in work-related environments is more normalized.68 Therefore, the national debate over the need for legislation turned towards the niqab , and in 2019, public places.69 These debates have been aired in the Dutch Parliament since the 1990s. Rhetoric has used ideas of gender equality to position a Muslim identity as mutually exclusive to Dutch identity, and as a danger to security, with reference to the need for fifacial recognition in a time of terrorfl. 70 The right- wing populist politician Geert Wilders even used the words fikopvoddentaksfl or fihead-rag taxfl in 2009, demonstrating the clear hostility to Muslim women that could feature in such discussions.71 BelgiumAlthough bans on Muslim attire are taking hold in many European countries or localised regions, there have also been some critical voices against such measures at national level. For example, in Belgium, King Albert II declared his solidarity with a company owner who was facing death threats because he defended an employer™s right to wear the headscarf. 72 This came in contrast to the banning of the burka in many Belgian municipalities, as well as calls on a national level to follow suit and ban both the burka and the hijab. 73 While there women™s clothing, a federal prohibition on clothing that covers a person™s face has been in place since 2011 to prevent people making themselves 74Such discourse has increased since 2016, with one study into Islamophobia in Europe that year had legitimised hostility towards Muslim women. 75 The death threats received by the company owner mentioned above are just one example of this.

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Muslim Women don™t need saving – Gendered Islamophobia in Europe 11Legal Challenges Muslim women have taken cases before European courts after national remedies were exhausted. These cases are based on human rights norms and principles, namely: religious freedom, equality and non-discrimination, as well as women and girls™ autonomy and choice. They illustrate the avenues for legal remedies open to Muslim women when their rights are infringed upon. Moreover though, the court verdicts show the judicial lack of protection for the rights of Muslim women due to the racist political climate in many European countries. European Court of Justice (CJEU)Achbita and Belgium Centre for Equal Opportunities and Combating Racism vs. G4S Secure Solutions NV.Samira Achbita is a Muslim woman who worked as receptionist for the Belgium G4S Secure Solutions company. After working for the company for three years Ms. Achbita decided to wear a headscarf which she perceived as a religious requirement. She informed her employer of her intention to wear the hijab, after which the employer adopted a written rule that fiprohibited employees at the workplace to bear visible signs of their political, philosophical or religious beliefs or to perform any kind of rituals that is related to itfl. 76 Furthermore, G4S claimed that this rule was an already standing unwritten rule. For continuing to wear her hijab, Ms. Achbita was dismissed. G4S Secure Solutions claimed that their policy of religious neutrality was compromised by Ms. Achbita™s choice of clothing due to her client-facing role, and the CJEU upheld that the prohibition of any visible sign of an employee™s belief was not direct discrimination. 77 However, the CJEU leaving it up to Belgium to decide in this case. In 2017, The Belgian Court of Cassation ruled that even where the employer themselves was not at fault, having acted in ignorance of complex discrimination law.78 that the case showed no discrimination, that Muslim women faced no additional disadvantage 79Bougnaui and ADDH vs. Micropole SAThis French case dealt with a dispute between a Muslim woman, Asma Bougnaoui, and her employer Micropole SA, an IT consultancy company. Ms. Bougnaoui wore a headscarf/hijab during her employment, where she was required to provide in-person service to clients on Micropole™s premises. One of her clients considered the headscarf to be an fiembarrassmentfl and requested her not the wear it next time, which Ms. Bougnaoui refused. As a consequence, Micropole SA functions on behalf of the company. Ms. Bougnaoui was then let go from her position

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