by A Adibeik · Cited by 1 — all tend to contribute to similar constructions towards women who wear the burka. Key words: veil-banning, hijab, burka, Muslim women, Media,

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 3Representation of burka banning in Fr ance as represented in British and Persian Newspapers Arezoo Adibeik Lancaster University Abstract The study of Burka and hijab banning in France have become the topic of major interest in recent years (see Moore, Mason and Lewis, 2008; Al Hejin ,2007; Posetti 2006; Scott, 2007). This paper, traces the histories and discourses supporting and neglecting the representa tion of burka banning in three British newspapers and tabloids ( The Guardian, The Times, The Sun ) and three Persian newspapers ( Resaalat, Shargh and Tehran Times ) during a nine month period from January to September 2010; following the event of French burka banning proposal by the then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, which was eventually passed on and approved by the senate on 14 th of September 2010; I will be using Reisigl and Wodak’s (2001) Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) and the strategic discursive devices within this approach in order to familiarise the readers to the notion of ‘burka’ for women from two separate ideological background (i.e. Christian / Islamic). Besides, this paper aims to focus on how veiled women are represented in British and Persian newspapers following the controversies on Hijab and burka banning issues. The findi ngs show that while newspapers have different strategies in their way of representation due to their political trend, they all tend to contribute to similar constructions towards women who wear the burka. Key words: veil-banning, hijab, burka, Muslim women, Media, Discourse Historical Approach, discursive strategies 1. Introduction Both sex and religion are considered as important issues in broadcasting media and press. Over the past century, there have been numerous debates on veil banning. It has especially attracted increased press attention within the past few decades especially since 1989 following “the event that became known as the ‘ affaires des foulards’ began on October 3, 1989, when three Muslim girls who refused to remove thei r headscarves were expelled from their middle school in the town of Creil, about thirty miles outside of Paris (Scott, 2007:22-23)”.

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 4In this paper, I will trace the histories and discourses supporting and neglecting the representation of full-face (henceforth, burka) banning in three British newspapers and tabloids and three Persian newspapers during a nine mo nth period from January to September 2010 following the event of president Nicolas Sarkozy’s burka banning proposal which was then passed on and approved by the senate on 14 th of September 2010; using the discourse historical approach (DHA) and the strategic devices in order to show the representation of the notion of ‘burka’ for women in both Islamic and Christian ideologies. I shall be answering the following questions: 1. How are veiled women represented in British and Persian newspapers and what are the potential differences among these newspapers? 2. Which discursive strategies tend to appear more in such discourses? A large number of news stories about the notio n of the term ‘veil’ and ‘hijab’ have been triggered by politicians bringing the matter into the public consideration. Over the past decade, the appropriateness of Muslim women’s dressing, particularly the burka has been the focus of often controversial media debates. As many scholar s believe (e.g. Scott, 2007; Vaarakallio, 2010, Vorster, 2011) the burka debate has come to symbolise the clash of cultures: To be more precise, between the French secular interests and the Mu slim religious beliefs. There are conflicting claims on this issue that regard it as a symbol of both oppression and freedom of expression. As Posetti (2006:2) argues in her report that “the media cannot be held solely responsible for the construction of national identity not blamed fo r social attitudes towards”, what she considers as “minority cultures and religions “. On the other hand, she seems to support the claim that while the Western media usually sees itself as a democrat ic institution it still is biased against religious communities especially the Muslims. However, as stated previously, there have been some

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 5negative issues towards the notion of ‘hijab’ and especially towards ‘ burka’ in the western press. Having a brief look at the headlines of newspapers, which were related to such topics during the past decade, I have found that most fears of burka and niqab have their roots in the events following September 11, 2001 terror attacks and the suicide bombings and hostage takings in different parts of the world. For example the heart-breaking event of ‘Beslan School Siege’ on 3rd of September 2004 which was about Chechen Islamic extremists who murdered 344 people after taking 1200 hostage during just one day and among the hostage-takers were “female suicide bombers wearing the burka and niqab”. 1 Moreover, this is only one of the many articles, which understandably lead to fear towards the women who wear the full-face covering garment ‘the burka’. That is why the media are believed to have a strong impact on people. They do have great power over people’s beliefs and assessments. Henc e, with power comes great responsibility and that is the reason why the headlines of newspapers are of utmost importance. This research also attempts to show that while newspapers have different strategies in the representation of veil banning due to their political standpoints, in some important ways they all contribute similar construction of the In-groups versus the Out-groups. I hope that this essay and its results shall help to hi ghlight some significant and ch allenging issues regarding the representation of full- veil banning in France from the point of view of two different countries (UK and Iran) with diverse ideologies. 1.1. Definition of key terms Veil is a cover term, which refers to all forms of the Islamic veil (either headscarf or full- face veil). Because of confusions of the terms related to Islamic veils, in this section I shall define each type of Muslim women’s veil, which is stated in this essay along with a pictorial 1 . /hi/world/04/russian_s/html/1.stm

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 6example, which I collected from BBC we bsite (Accessed: 5 April 2011). 1.1.1. Different types of Muslim women’s veils Hijab: The word ‘Hijab’ is usually a term used for covering the hair. It is an Arabic term meaning ‘barrier’ or ‘partition’. Acco rding to Bardan (1995c,P.22) “the word ‘Hijab’ or ‘veil’ signified covering the face and was used as a generic term in nineteenth and early twentieth century Egypt”. The type most commonly worn in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear. Figure 1. Hijab Burka is the most concealing of all Islamic ve ils. It covers the entire face and body, leaving only a mesh screen to see through. Figure 2. Burka (Burqa) Niqab refers to a full-face veil that does not cover the eyes. i.e. it is a veil for the face, which leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It may also be worn with an accompanying headscarf.

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 7 Figure 3. Niqab 1.2. Significance of study The significant effect of the ‘affaires des foulards’ in France was to make the headscarves an emblem of a difference that could be in tegrated. France with its long traditions of secularism had called for the outlawing all ‘conspicuous’ signs of religious affiliation in public schools. Consequently, such discriminations tend to marginalize Muslims, which is highly likely to make them isolated. This seems to be a great problem facing both sides either French government or Muslim populations living in France. Interestingly, they both share the idea that there is a political reason behind this debate and they may both be right if one is looking at the whole situation without biase. 2. Data Collection and Methodology 2.1. Data Collection As a first step, I re trieved the stories related to burka banning issues in British newspapers from Lexis Nexis database, using the key words veil / burka banning in France. Among the UK broad sheets and tabloids, I chose one liberal quality newspaper the Guardian , one conservative quality newspaper the Times and one tabloid newspaper the Sun for my analysis. I chose these newspapers due to their different political stances. I did almost the same procedure for Persian newspapers by searching the same key terms in both Persian and English language in, which is considered to be one of the databases for Persian language news documents. I chose a traditional conservative right-winged newspaper called Resaalat (= ‘the Prophecy’) and a reformist or left-winged party newspaper Shargh (=’ the East’) along with an

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 8English language daily newspaper Tehran Times whose general policy was based on the late Ayatollah Beheshti™s statement: ” The Tehran Times is not the newspaper of the government; it must be a loud voice of the Islamic Revolution and the loudspeaker of the oppressed people of the world.”2 2.2. Methodology My analysis is largely based on Wodak’s (2001) Discourse Historical Approach (henceforth, DHA). The sample data was based on a 9-month period from January 2010 through to 15 th September 2010. The following table shows the name of the newspapers as well as the frequency of the numbers of articles relevant to my analysis plus the publishing dates. 2 .

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 10The five-level analytical method of DHA approach consists of: 1) referential strategies (naming) 2) predication strategies 3) argumentative strategies 4) perspectivisation 5) mitigation and intensification strategies. However, because of space restrictions, I shall focus only on two of the most salient strategies which occurred more fr equently in my analysis: the referential and predicational strategies 3. 3. The historical events prior to burka banning in France According to Scott (2007:22) the debates about whether girls should wear Islamic hijab in public schools in France, erupted at three separate chronological sequences: in 1989, 1994 and 2003. I shall describe these events briefly: In 1989, three Muslim girls were expelled from their school because they refused to remove their headscarves. Following that event, the minister of education, Farnçois Bayrou, decreed on September 20, 1994 that any ‘ostentatious’ signs of religious affiliation would henceforth be prohibited in all schools (Scott, 2007: 26). Finally, in 2003, the question of headscarves was first brought to national attention by the then minister of interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, who recommended headscarf banning which was approved by French MPs in the next year, leading to President Jacques Chirac’s call for the prohibition of headscarves in 2004. Furthermore, during this ti me concerns about terror ism after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the US was one of the justifications for this ruling and hijab banning proposals (Scott, 2007: 30). Such decisions were mostly because of the fact that French public consider hijab as the problem of Islam due to their secular system ( Ibid). What the chronological sequence reflects is a hardenin g of the government’s position in reaction to the steady growing political influence of the anti-immigrant far ri ght. Scott (2007) argues that headscarves are dangerously political in their challenge to the pr inciples of the secular republic of which France is a part. Such views are claimed to be in associ ation with Islamism and terrorism and therefore, 3 . NB. Other strategies were also noticed which can be discussed in a separate article.

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 11they might create Islamophobia. Accordingly, the years between 1989 and 2003 have raised a dramatic increase in international attention towa rds political Islam. Some French Political leaders relate France’s social problems to ‘immigrants’ and therefore refuse to accept them in their schools if they (i.e.the ‘immigrants’) did not dress in conformity with the secular standards. In fact, they are made to embrace the values and identity of the French (Scott: 2007, 36-39). With that said, there are different factors in veil banning in France, which are based on issues like: 1) Racism 2) secularism 3) individualism and 4) sexuality (Scott, 2007: 45). Each of these factors was the salient elements emphasized in all my data while exploring the implications of burka banning in France. For example in the Guardian (September 15, 2010) we can see the significance of such bases (secularity and individuality) in the president’s speech as underlined below: The president said the burqa had no place in a secular society committed to women’s rights. 4. The representation of ‘women’ Much of the recent work on the representation of women in the media points to their misinterpretation (cf. Booth 1980). Some studi es (see Scott, 2007; Moore, Mason and Lewis, 2008), however, venture further to show how women have been incorporated and represented into journalism. I will point out to the repres entation of women and burka banning in France, which has become a controversial issue in the media recently. The French Senate passed the bill, which prohibited face-covering in public places, on September 14, 2010. It should be noted that it was previously passed by the National Assembly of France on 13 July the same year. What is more salient about this proposal is that, first of all burkas prevent the ability to identify someone; as it is explicitly stated in the Times (Jul y 14, 2010) by a Muslim woman who says that: “I felt comfortable knowing that my face would not be known” . Secondly, it is inconsistent with

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 12France’s values i.e. French secular system and is against women’s rights. As it is believed covering the face is a symbol of ‘extremism’ and ignoring ‘individual identity’. Additionally, it is considered a threat towards the French society, which leads to the concept of Islamophobia and more specifically terrorism. As of the beginning of the year 2010 the bill, which proposed burka banning had been debated for several months. At first partial bans were proposed and later on it was turned to a total face veil banning which was approved by the Senate. The law was enforced as of 11 April, 2011. Furthermore, as Posseti (2006: 3) points out negative stereotyping and reactionary reporting tend to historically typify coverage of Islam and Muslims. She further indicates that “Muslim women are almost invariably portrayed as oppressed and veiled, a terrorist threat or exotic, sexualized beings”. In similar vein, Lambert and Githens-Mazer (2010: 64) in a section on Media portrayal of Muslim women report that media stories, in a Muslim woman’s view, have nearly always been negative surrounding scandal, abuse or focus on oppression of those who wear it. They further stress that despite the fact that there are many extraordinary individuals who are strong-minded, courageous and beautiful Muslim women who proudly wear Islamic dress, none of them are portrayed in the media as such ( Ib id: 67). Thus, positive stories or portrayals of Muslim women are not considered as newsworthy which apparently shows bias of media in portraying them. In the next section, I shall discuss the burka banning discourses from a DHA point of view. 5. DHA analysis of ‘ discourses about burka banning in France’ My analysis on media coverage of both British and Persian newspapers is based upon two complementary pieces of research from DHA perspective. The results of the text analysis and the discourse topics of the headlines of newspapers can be grouped in terms of different periods and

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Papers from the Lancaster University Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics & Language Teaching 2012 13events on the one hand and as I stated earlier in the methodology section, there are differences in the political stances of newspapers for example, the tabloids vs. broadsheets; conservatives vs. liberals on the other hand. Hence, there could also be questions formulating the representations of burka banning in France as reflected in UK liberal and conservative newspapers during a nine- month period which lead to the Senate’s approval of Burka banning in France. What follows then in terms of overall conclusions, however, is a tribute of some of the general discursive strategies of burka banning based on the text analysis. In an overview analysis of the UK newspapers, we can observe that for example MPs and Nikolas Sarkozy are the major social actors in French burka banning debates, which are considered as Self in the French context. Women who wear burka on the other hand, are mostly assumed to belong to other social groups and hence, are different social actors (i.e.Others). This matter is also related to ‘power’ as an asymmetr ic relationship among social actors with different social positions. The major CDA studies on the Self and Other represen tation within Wodak’s (2001) DHA have developed as salient methodologies and at the same time proposed several analytical categories through which the representation of these in-groups and out-groups in discourse are accounted for. According to Reisigl and Wodak (2009: 90), the DHA considers intertextual and interdiscursive relationships betw een utterances, texts, genres and discourses as well as extra- linguistic social / sociological variables, the history of an organization or institution and situational frames. Intertextuality means that text s are linked to each other, as in veil banning issue which started in 1989 and which was then lead to burka banning in September 2010 all the texts are linked to each other. They are connected both in the past and in the present. Such connections according to Resigl and Wodak (2009) are established through different references

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