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1 This article was downloaded by: [Croucher, Stephen] On: 18 August 2009 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number ] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: Registered office: Mortimer House, Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Intercultural Communication Research Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: French-Muslims and the Hijab: An Analysis of Identity and the Islamic Veil in France Stephen M. Croucher Online Publication Date: 01 November 2008 To cite this Article Croucher, Stephen M.(2008)'French-Muslims and the Hijab: An Analysis of Identity and the Islamic Veil in France',Journal of Intercultural Communication Research,37:3, To link to this Article: DOI: / URL: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.

2 Journal of Intercultural Communication Research Vol. 37, No. 3, November 2008, pp French-Muslims and the Hijab: An Analysis of Identity and the Islamic Veil in France Stephen M. Croucher Downloaded By: [Croucher, Stephen] At: 13:12 18 August 2009 This article examines how Muslims living in France construct, and negotiate their identities in the wake of Law , a French law banning the wearing of the Islamic veil in French public schools. This research finds that Muslims deem the Islamic veil or hijab to be a fundamental part of their identity. Muslims describe the hijab as being an important and salient symbol of Islam that runs counter to France s concept of secularism or laïcité. Moreover, French-Muslims assert regulations like Law represent France attempting to control Muslim identity and forcefully integrate this population. Keywords: Islam; Laïcité; Identity Negotiation; Hijab; France Seated together on a bench outside the Paris Mosque on a warm summer day, Fatima and Dalal expressed their feelings about the hijab. Fatima, a 37-year-old Tunisianborn Muslim, wearing a dark purple headscarf, foulard in French, stated: When I hijab [pause] I in public feel safe. I feel [pause] like people only see [pause] people only see what I want them to see. I am free to walk, and people, people uh [pause] they uh [pause] move for me to walk and I not worry people stare at my body because [pause] I hijab. Dalal, a 21-year-old French-born Muslim of Algerian ancestry, who was wearing a tricolore drapeau hijab (a hijab made of the French flag), described different reasons for wearing the hijab. She said that aside from safety and tradition, the hijab gives her an opportunity to protest against the French government and Christianity. She said: I agree with Fatima [pause] I feel safe when hijab. But [pause] I also think hijab much more important for protest and politics. Hijab [pause] hijab give me and Stephen M. Croucher (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2006) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Bowling Green State University. Correspondence to: Stephen M. Croucher, PhD, Department of Communication, School of Communication Studies, Bowling Green State University, 302 West Hall, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA. Tel: ISSN (print)/issn (online) ß 2008 World Communication Association DOI: /

3 200 S. M. Croucher other women chance to show we Muslim and [pause] and chance to say we proud to be Muslim. I wear tricolore hijab [pause] this say I French, I upset with France and [pause] and I want people to know I have protest thoughts. I upset about many things like ban in schools, army power and no jobs. Hijab according to Al-Munajeed (1997) is an Arabic word meaning a shield or to make invisible by using a shield. Croucher (2008) asserts that increasingly, French Muslim women have taken to the wearing of hijabs as a form of social protest. Specifically, many women have argued France s 2004 passage of a law prohibiting conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, Law , is a state sponsored attack against Muslim identity and religion (Croucher, 2008, 2009; Islamic Institute for Human Rights, 2005). The law states: Dans les écoles, les colleges et les lycées publics, le port de signes ou tenues par lesquels les élèves manifestent ostensiblement une appartenance religieuse est interdit or In public school, colleges and universities, the wearing of signs or behaviors by which pupils express openly a religious membership is prohibited (LegiFrance, 2005). The French state argues such a ban on the wearing of religious symbols in public domains like schools is a defense of the French concept of laïcité, or separation of church and state (International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, 2005). Numerous religious organizations have stated the Muslim hijab, or the wearing of a religious headscarf, is a target of anti-muslim sentiment, hatred and fear (Croucher, 2008), and the ban on religious symbols in the public domain is a racist attempt by the French government (Bramham, 2004) to eliminate the formation of a Muslim identity in France, and instead encourage Muslims in France to adapt to French culture and adopt a solely French identity (Ganley, 2004). The French government in response to protests against the 2004 law, and previous suspensions of young girls in French school for wearing the hijab, specifically in 1989 and 1994, has asserted steps to remove religious symbols from schools serve two purposes. First, bans on conspicuous religious symbols preserves the French ideal of laïcité in the French public school system (Gaspard & Khosrokhavar, 1995; Jeffries, 2005). Second, the ban is seen as a step toward integrating Muslims into French culture. However, many Muslims in France question this goal, and assert the ban, and successive expulsions from school for young girls who defy the law (Bennhold, 2004), promote integration, but also the elimination of their religious identity, a common occurrence in the assimilation process (Croucher, 2006, 2008, 2009). Isra, a 26-year-old Libyan immigrant to France discussed how she sees the 2004 ban on wearing religious symbols in schools as a way to make Muslims act more French in public. She said, the ban [pause] it reason it simple. French government and Christians want Muslim women to act French on streets [pause] in cafés and in public. They want to make us act more French by law. Layla concurred with this statement, and added the law is sexually biased. The French 23-year-old Muslim of Moroccan ancestry said: The ban [pause] it to make Muslim women be more like French Christian women. They want me to look [pause] to act and to [pause] to be more like them when I not in my home. They want to control my body. When they say children cannot

4 hijab in schools and I cannot hijab in other places [pause] they control my body [pause] mind and my soul. As young women are taught culture-specific body norms and positions (Lengel, 2004), a national mandate over a symbol like the hijab becomes a site of struggle. Foucault (1978) asserts discourse and social practice sexes the human body, making it a target for social control and power. Thus, for many French-Muslim women, a way to counter the perceived attempt at controlling their feminine, Muslim identity is to protest against the French government with the hijab. Thus, this analysis examines the hijab and how French-Muslim women use it as a form of protest in shaping their feminine, French, and Islamic identities. The following sections offer a review of literature about the hijab and identity, define the method of data collection used for this analysis, analyze sentiments of French-Muslim women, and draw conclusions based on the analysis. Veils in History Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 201 The practice of veiling pre-dates the formation of Islam as a religious faith. The veil is actually a product of Judaism, as women in ancient Judea were required to wear a veil over their heads when praying to God, or Jehovah (Croucher, 2008). Men on the other hand in Judea could worship without a veil, since man was created in the image of God (Parshall & Parshall, 2002). Even the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the savior in the Christian faith, in all depictions, wears a veil over her hair. Ancient Assyrian kings introduced the seclusion of women into the royal harem, and also brought into fashion the wearing of the veil for women in the royal harem. Women in ancient Greece wore linen veils over the back of their heads. Roman women wore a palliolum, a veil that covers the hair and is draped over the shoulders (Croucher, 2008). During the reign of Elizabeth I in England, white bridal veils, similar to the head covering worn by the Virgin Mary and other Christian women became popular (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2003). This symbol of Islam, which did not appear in the Muslim ummah (community) until approximately 627 C.E., is considered a defining element of modern and historical Islam (Aslan, 2005). For many women throughout the world (Nashat & Tucker, 1999; Hawkins, 2003), the act of wearing the hijab or veiling identifies or labels a woman as Muslim to the rest of the world. In the twentieth century, the act of veiling has come under intense scrutiny, especially as more and more Muslims emigrate and begin to populate non-muslim nations. Particularly in nations where secularism is favored over religious affiliations (Turkey and France in particular), the veil has been attacked or deemed a threat to secular/stable democratic traditions (Croucher, 2005, 2006, 2008). For example, Mustafa Atatürk, the first president of Turkey banned veiling throughout Turkey in 1925 (Roy, 2004). In France, conflicts over the wearing of the Muslim veil have encapsulated the populace and signified the growing tensions between the secular French state and Islam. The first Muslim veil affair took place in 1989 (Cesari, 1994;

5 202 S. M. Croucher Gaspard & Khosrokhavar, 1995). In Creil, a suburb of Paris, three school girls (two Moroccans and one Tunisian) were expelled from school for refusing to remove their hijabs, veils that cover the head and hair, but not the face (Kidd, 2000). The girls argued wearing the hijab was in observance of their religion, and the headmaster of the school claimed the wearing of religious clothing was incompatible with the French concept of laïcité (Gaspard & Khosrokhavar, 1995). Upon appeal, the Council d Etat ruled the girls were within their rights to wear religious attire (Gaspard & Khosrokhavar, 1995). Ultimately, the decision of the Council d Etat reinforced laïcité by reasserting the role of the state as an entity that will not control religion. In 2004, this issue resurfaced with the passage of Law Muslim groups view this new law as not directed toward Catholics or Jews, but as a carte blanche way of banning the Muslim faith from public schools through equal legal restrictions (Croucher, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009). Since the passage of the law, Muslim groups have been divided on how to respond. Some members of the Muslim community have argued the veil ban is an attack on Islam and prevents Muslim women from freely expressing their religious beliefs and self-identity. While other Muslim and non- Muslim groups have asserted the ban frees Muslim women from tyrannical Muslim doctrine that objectifies women and prevents Muslim women from forming independent self-identities. Identity Identity, or an individual s self concept, is built on cultural, social and personal identities (Lustig & Koester, 2003). Hall (1992) asserts there are three approaches to the study of identity. The first approach coming from the Enlightenment period sees identity as a relatively fixed and static sense of self. This sense of self is immune to outside influence. The second approach places emphasis on the social construction of reality. The third, most recent, approach views identity as an open and constantly changing sense of self. Ting-Toomey (1993) states identity is the mosaic sense of self-identification that incorporates the interplay of human, cultural, social and personal images as consciously or unconsciously experiences and enacted by the individual (p. 74). Within this framework, Ting-Toomey differentiates between cultural, and social identities. Cultural identity is an individual s sense of belonging to a particular ethnic group or culture. Carbaugh (1996) explains that cultural identity stems from three different, and often complimentary idioms: biological identity, psychological identity, and cultural identity. Biological identity is best equated with a blood quantum, such as with Native American tribes, where an individual must have blood that contains a certain amount of Native American blood in order to be part of the tribe (Carbaugh, 1996). Psychological identity refers to an individual s personal psychological traits. Carbaugh uses the example of someone being a bit neurotic, depressed or obsessive, and identifying himself/herself with film director Woody Allen.

6 The third idiom for Carbaugh is cultural/social identity. This idiom is where individuals identify themselves with a group based on shared habits, norms, rules or customs. All three of these idioms often overlap and can in some cases contradict one another on first analysis (Croucher, 2006). Social identity involves different connections individuals have to particular social groups within their culture. Ting-Toomey (1993) argues the negotiation of social identity is integral to effective intercultural communication competence. She states that identity negotiation, or the effective negotiation between two interactants in a novel communication episode is an intricate and varied process (p. 73). These approaches to identity were chosen to analyze how French-Muslim women negotiate and use the hijab to protest perceived limitations placed on their Islamic and feminine identities. Thus, the following question is posed regarding French-Muslim women s wearing of the hijab: RQ: Method Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 203 How does the hijab function as a tool of French-Muslim female identity? Interviews were conducted in France in the summers of 2005 and The interviews took place in the following French cities: Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Clichysous-Bois (where the November 2005 riots began) and Paris (as well as its suburbs). These cities represent different geographic regions of France, have a varied number of Muslim inhabitants, and in each city the researcher had contact with a local imam (religious teacher), and a social network of personal friends in the Muslim community. Roy (2004) explains how imams are an important part of the Muslim faith and that imams are taking on increasingly political and leadership roles in the emerging Muslim community or ummah. These men now carry political influence, and are beginning to serve as intermediaries between Muslims and God. Having these imams as contacts was vital to the success of this research. Not only did the imams put the researcher in contact with some of the interview participants (previously established social networks put the researcher in contact with the majority of the participants), but they also assured some participants and their male family members that the researcher was respectful and would put their family at no risk. This assurance was vital to gaining access to some members of the community. Once access was gained to some members of the community, a few participants brought friends (some regular attendees at the mosques, some not) into the research process for interviews, a snowball sampling effect took place (Patton, 1990). Forty-two Muslim women were interviewed for this analysis to gain an understanding of the hijab and Muslim identity. All participants were of North African descent and all interviewees were either first or second-generation Algerian (14 interviewees), Tunisian (6 interviewees), Moroccan (8 interviewees), Libyan (3 interviewees) or British (1) immigrants to France, or born in France (13 interviewees). Each interview began with the researcher meeting a participant at a pre-determined location (chosen by the interviewee), the majority of these

7 204 S. M. Croucher locations were public squares or cafés, while some interviews took place in private residences. The interviews consisted of in-depth open-ended interviews, probing identification. Participants were asked a multitude of questions about their life experiences, family, religion, perceptions about France, and other issues that organically developed during the conversations. The interviews were conducted in either French or English, dependent upon the participant s linguistic ability in either language. Interviews were then transcribed and translated. The transcripts were then analyzed using a grounded theory approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), looking to see what patterns emerged, whether they were limited to a particular individual, or found across individuals. Downloaded By: [Croucher, Stephen] At: 13:12 18 August 2009 The Hijab and French-Muslim Identity Throughout the interviews, the French-Muslim women brought forth four broad functions/reasons for the hijab in France. Women discussed how the hijab helps some of them blend a North African ancestry or heritage with French culture. Many spoke of how the hijab helps them feel comfortable or secure in their bodies while out in public. Others said when they hijab they feel a closeness to the Prophet Muhammad and to the Muslim community, as if they are his bride and the community s mother. Finally, many of the Muslim women discussed how the hijab provides them a silent way to identify themselves as Muslims to others, while at the same time it gives them a way to publicly and silently protest actions taken by the French government to limit religious expression. The Hijab and Muslim Heritage Many of the French-Muslim women interviewed for this project talked about how the act of wearing the hijab is an important cultural/religious tradition they do not want to abandon. Some equated the hijab as a channel between their French identities and their Muslim female, and North African identities. Nadya, a 26-year-old Algerianborn immigrant, described how she is an Algerian, French, and Muslim woman. She said: I am many things. I am woman [pause] I am Muslim woman [pause] you see my hijab. I am Algerian [pause] and I am French. I am diverse woman. I think in France and in Islam I can be many things I want to be. Salma, a Tunisian immigrant expressed similar sentiments. The 37-year-old woman stated: I wear hijab because it tradition in my religion and culture. I [pause] I know it not tradition and culture in France. France my new home. I French now. But I also Muslim and Tunisian woman. I will hijab because it part of me and my [pause] part of my culture and life and me now French will not change it when other parts of life change in France.

8 Amani, a 32-year-old French-born Muslim of Algerian ancestry further expressed this multi-faceted identity, facilitated by wearing the hijab. She discussed how growing up wearing a hijab has taught her Islamic, and Algerian values in France. She said: I know I live in France. But [pause] I am a Muslim woman [pause] I hijab and I am proud to be Muslim and to hijab. I know about Islam and Algeria because my family taught me [pause] they taught me when I a child. They taught me values of Islam and of France. I now show people when I hijab that I Muslim but I show people in France [pause] because I Muslim woman who live in France. Other women put it very simply. Farida, a 45-year-old Algerian immigrant to France said, yes I born in Algeria [pause] but I also French woman. I also Muslim woman who hijab to show Islam. Lina, a 37-year-old Algerian female, said, I born in Algeria [pause] I Algerian, and I French [pause] and I Muslim. I many woman with hijab. Many of the women identified themselves with their nation of birth, where they live currently (they all live in France), and as a Muslim woman who wear hijabs. Thus their identification is multi-dimensional, deriving from their birthplace, current citizenship nation, and their religion. The Hijab Brings Bodily Security in Public Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 205 The word hijaba means to shield, and for many of the French-Muslim women interviewed for this project this is a fundamental purpose of the hijab. This symbol serves as a way to secure identity, reduce uncertainty and enhance self-esteem. For women who wear the hijab, it offers security from the outside world. Inam, a 23-year-old born in France of Algerian parents said, when I hijab I have a shield. I am safe from people. Manal, a 39-year-old Algerian immigrant said I am shielded, protected when I hijab, I am free to be [pause] woman in public with hijab. Aziza, a 42-year-old born in France of Algerian and Tunisian parents said, I think hijab make city safer [pause] it make city better for women. Najwa, a 29-year-old Tunisian immigrant concurred and stated I feel good when women in family wear [pause] hijab because [pause] men not see all her and she not need feel unsafe in public or on the street. Wafa, a 69-year-old Tunisian immigrant said my daughter and granddaughters they hijab and [pause] I uh think that good because [pause] people not look or question daughter or granddaughters in public with hijab. This security or shield also protects their sense of self-identification because many Muslim women do not feel as if their self-identification can be successfully challenged by outsiders when they wear the hijab. Dima, a 45-year-old Algerian female, said: The veil [pause] or the act of hijab is a way to protect women from the outside world [pause] and it also is way for women to protect themselves from other people who could dishonor them. It uh [pause] make women safer. It make us safer from people who not understand us.

9 206 S. M. Croucher The concept of security from the outside world while wearing the hijab was further explained by Lubna, a 42-year-old French-born Muslim of Algerian heritage who said: When I hijab [pause] I in public feel safe. I feel [pause] like people only see [pause] people only see what I want them to see. I am free to walk, and people, people they uh [pause] move for me to walk and I not worry people stare at my body because [pause] I hijab. They see me and not false person. The protection the hijab offers for many women is highly regarded. Many of the women interviewed for this project voiced feeling of ease and comfort when they wear the hijab in public. Other female participants, when talking about their security and identity, equated the hijab with a shroud of protection. Tarub, a 39-year-old Tunisian immigrant, said, I have shroud in public. I uh [pause] have protection from men, people and the world with hijab. I can be me. Suhair, a 42-year-old Algerian immigrant said, I have a shroud of protection when I in public and private [pause] like your Jesus Christ with the hijab. He proud to be himself [pause] like me. The fact that this participant includes Jesus Christ in her description is probably a reference to the shroud of Turin, the cloth in which Christ was wrapped in after his crucifixion. Relationship with Muhammad and the Community Women also voiced how the hijab shapes their identity by helping some women feel as if they have become the wife of Muhammad. In fact, Aslan (2005) described how donning the veil, or darabat al-hijab is a synonym for becoming Muhammad s wife. Fardoos, a 46-year-old Moroccan female, described this process of becoming Muhammad s wife. She said, When I wear my hijab I act like the wives of Muhammad acted. I become his wife on Earth. Numerous other women also detailed how the hijab brings them closer to Muhammad. This feelings of closeness and connection with Muhammad was detailed by a 32-year-old French-born woman of Algerian ancestry. Abla said: When I hijab I feel good. I feel [pause] near Prophet. I know I can remove hijab, but [pause] when I wear I show other people that I with him. I teach daughter to do same thing [pause] to show love for Prophet and hijab. Samira equated her wearing of the hijab with the wearing of a wedding ring. The French-born Muslim of Moroccan parents said: It custom [pause] it normal for women and men to wear ring after they married. I wearhijab, it [pause] like ring with Prophet. I not have ring from Prophet. I uh [pause] havering from husband. Hijab uh [pause] say I respect, that I uh [pause] follow his word. Zuhair, a 29-year-old Algerian female, discussed how the closeness she feels to the Prophet is a beautiful way to live her life. She said: I love husband and I love Prophet. I uh [pause] not think I have choose one as more orother. They uh [pause] different. But I say when I hijab that I uh [pause]

10 Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 207 beautiful womanand I uh modest and [pause] safe woman. Hijab is beauty it uh [pause] beautiful relationship. Aside from the hijab representing the becoming of the Prophet s wife, participants also said it represents their transformation from a woman into a mother within their umma, or Muslim community. Thara, a 38-year-old Tunisian female said: When I wear a hijab I am the wife of Muhammad and I am a mother to my community. Virtuous women hijab and only a virtuous woman should be a mother. So, a hijab helps me show my virtue and be a good example for my community. Protest against the Actions of the French Government Downloaded By: [Croucher, Stephen] At: 13:12 18 August 2009 The 2004 ban on the wearing of religious symbols in French public schools and in other public/government buildings in essence banned the hijab in many places. In response to this action, many French-Muslim women have taken to wearing the hijab as a way to identify themselves as Muslim women and to silently protest against the 2004 ban. Nihal, a 63-year-old Moroccan female, discussed how she and her daughter use the hijab as an act of Islamic solidarity and protest. She said: My daughter and my granddaughters they have many problems in France today. They cannot wear the hijab at work or in school. They have rules in school and at the office against the hijab because French people do not like the hijab and do not like Islam. We not like this. We now wear red, white and blue hijabs like flag. This very strong political thing to do. It say we Muslim women and we proud. Maysa, a 32-year-old woman, who was born in France to Tunisian parents, discussed how she must remove her daughters hijab for school, but she does not do so. She also delivers them to school wearing an interesting hijab on occasion. She said: I know it law [pause] it law to not wear hijab in school. I think it wrong. My daughters [pause] they wear hijabs after lunch everyday. I also walk everyday to school with them [pause] and when I walk to school [pause] I wear purple hijab. Purple important color for Tunisians. This show to me and [pause] it show to my family that we Tunisians now more than we French. The law make me love France less [pause] and be less proud of country here. Hikmat, a 37-year-old French-born woman, of Algerian heritage discussed how she used to not see the hijab as a sign of unity, and a collective female, Muslim identity, but now does in response to the 2004 ban. She said: I wear hijab for many years and [pause] and I not think about how it make a community for Muslim women. Now [pause] now I think more about hijab and what it mean to Muslim women in France and other countries. Here [pause] here we not allowed to have children hijab. So [pause] so when I hijab it show people I Muslim [pause] and I proud Muslim woman who not afraid of government. Safa, a 26-year-old French-born Muslim of Tunisian parents said she never thought of herself as anything but French and Muslim, until the 2004 ban was passed.

11 208 S. M. Croucher She said now she has a much stronger sense of being a Muslim and a stronger feeling of respect for her hijab. French Catholic friend [pause] she said where you born? I [pause] say France. She said [pause] where were your parents born? [pause] I say Tunis. She said you Tunisian not French, you only French citizen, but I more French than you are, that what people think she said. I not understand why she say that to me. I always think I French. After we talk at store, I uh [pause] think maybe I not French [pause] maybe I Tunisian. But I born in France. I more proud now to be Muslim and [pause] and I show I Muslim with my hijab. Other women voiced similar sentiments, of feeling a stronger sense of ethnic or religious identification and being more empowered to show it. Zakiya, a 47-year-old Algerian female, claimed the anti-hijab feelings of many French people are based on misunderstood stories and history. She said: Many people in France not understand hijab. They [pause] uh think hijab bad [pause] but it not bad. It part of history and women choose to wear it. It uh [pause] not something French people understand [pause] so they say it bad and hate Muslim women who hijab. So [pause] I hijab to show all women who hijab not evil women [pause] but good and [pause] normal women. Overall, most in the Muslim community equated policies against the hijab such as the 2004 ban on wearing religious symbols in schools, and other private regulations as results of the French Christian population and the government not wanting to understand Muslim culture, or wanting to stop the development of a developed Muslim-French identity, an expression of French perspectival modernity (Gebser, 1985). Thus, the realization that wearing the hijab can be an act of protest or solidarity offers some of the women in this community empowerment. Michel, a 42-year-old French journalist who writes about minority issues in France and also researches immigrant groups for Le Monde said he increasingly sees more Muslim women on French streets in Paris. While he admits the Muslim population is increasing, he also knows from talking with members of the Muslim community that many women are purposely out in public to show they are Muslim to the rest of Paris. He added: We are secular here and [pause] that is France. Muslims can be Muslims but it is not necessary to wear religious clothes in public schools. School is a location to learn [pause] and not a location to be religious. However, I know many more Muslim women now are protesting the 2004 ban by [pause] by wearing hijabs and by having their children and infants wear hijabs in public places. It is a rather clever, and silent way to show community togetherness. I think it also helps them not adapt to French culture, but that is my opinion. Discussion Cultural Uniqueness via the Hijab Many of the Muslim women said they see the hijab as a channel between their articulated and unarticulated (Ting-Toomey, 1993) French identities and their

12 Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 209 Muslim, female, and North African identities. The overwhelming majority of the Muslims interviewed for this project expressed a desire to be included as part of the French culture. They also discussed how they want to retain some level of religious and cultural identity freedom/difference from the French culture. A physical symbol that embodies this desire for inclusion and differentiation is the Islamic hijab. This symbol serves as a way to secure identity, reduce uncertainty and enhance selfesteem. The hijab symbolically includes the Muslim women who wear it into Muslim culture while at the same time it differentiates them from French-Christian culture. Those Muslim women who choose not to wear the hijab are also differentiated from traditional Muslim culture. Locus of Self-Identification Downloaded By: [Croucher, Stephen] At: 13:12 18 August 2009 Cultural variability influences an individual s locus of self-identification. A key cultural variable, as argued by Ting-Toomey, is the individualism-collectivism continuum. Individualistic cultures typically encourage individual identity over group identity, while collectivistic cultures normally emphasize a we identity over an I identity (Hall, 1989; Gudykunst & Kim, 1997, 2003). France is in the middle of this individualism and collectivism continuum (Hofstede, 1991; Jandt, 2000; Croucher, 2005, 2008, 2009). The emphasis on Frenchness, the emphasis on all citizens following and upholding a French ideal, and the staunch governmental disregard for ethnic differences reveals a tendency toward collectivism. Moreover, the Muslim faith lends itself toward a more collectivistic mindset (Roy, 2004) because it encourages the importance of community and family over individual and personal achievement (Aslan, 2005). This difference between the French ideal and the Muslim community is the essence of racial conflicts between Muslim and Christians in France (Croucher, 2006, 2008). The Muslim community generally emphasizes family and community more than the Christian-French. This emphasis also places greater importance on the concepts of obligation and honor to family, and history, which are more a part of the Muslim moral than Christian moral (Lewis, 1998). In numerous interviews, participants suggested their self-identification as linked to the identification of their family and community. For many of the Muslims in fact, they identified their family and community as the Muslim community. The collectivistic nature of the Muslim-French community greatly impacts upon their selfidentification. This group/community is more apt to refer to itself by using we instead of I. The usage of we reveals the interconnectedness of this community and the interdependent construals of self. Moreover, the more connected an individual is to his group/community, the more likely that person is to feel secure in his sense of self-identification (Ting-Toomey, 1993). Sense of Identity Attack Many Muslim women said their Muslim, female identities became stronger after their religion and culture were placed under attack by French secularism and

13 210 S. M. Croucher legal policies. Many of the participants said after Law was passed they began to look at themselves in the mirror and realize that they were indeed different from the rest of French culture. While this group also stated they were always considered different and treated differently, since Law was passed they have had a common reason to unite as a Muslim community. Uniting in protest to Law and arguing their Muslim selves cannot and should not be excluded from French society brought forth a mainly subconscious and unarticulated self-identity. Therefore, the hijab, whether or not it is worn by every French-Muslim (as a symbol of Islam and protest), has become a visible and tangible way for the Muslim-French community to exclude or to include themselves with mainstream French culture. French Identity Crisis Downloaded By: [Croucher, Stephen] At: 13:12 18 August 2009 France is in the midst of an identity crisis. France has a strong sense of nation that goes all the way back to the French Revolution, when the modern-day French state was established (Carlyle, 2002; Kedward, 2006). Since the fall of the French monarchy, the idea of a French nation has been synonymous with French identity (Hargreaves, 1995, 2000). However, that identity has been splintered in recent years as France experiences a rapid influx in immigration from nations that are predominantly non-western and non-christian. With this influx, French Christians are afraid of losing their French culture and identity to encroaching minority populations (ethnic and religious). Minority populations on the other hand, especially the Muslim populations from North Africa and Turkey, want to retain part of their Muslim selves, while also becoming and participating in French culture (Croucher, 2005, 2008, 2009; Kastoryano, 2002; Keaton, 2006; Laurence & Vaisse, 2006; Sifaoui, 2002; Venner, 2005). Muslims in France are also in the midst of an identity crisis that not only pertains to their religion and nation of birth, but also to their concept of sexuality, freedom of expression and the family. Gaspard and Khosrokhavar (1995) conducted interviews with young Muslim girls and found that their idea of what it means to be a Muslim woman is changing. Girls described how they were torn between their Muslim sense of self, and their ability to be a modern French girl. Women interviewed for this project expressed similar sentiments. Siham, a 31-year-old French-born Muslim of Algerian parents said: I can be Muslim woman in France [pause] and I also [pause] I want to be French. I think it possible [pause] but I want be modern French woman and also modern Muslim woman too at same time. I want [pause] Muslim family and French family. I have both things I want. Conclusion The hijab is a vehicle through which many French-Muslim women assert aspects of their identity. Throughout interviews with French-Muslim women, these women identified four broad functions/reasons for the hijab in France: to blend their French,

14 Muslim and North-African identities; to help them feel comfortable or secure in their bodies while out in public; to aid in feeling a closeness to the Prophet Muhammad and to the Muslim community; and it provides a silent way to protest and identify themselves as Muslims to others. The hijab is a way for French-Muslim women to assert cultural uniqueness; it helps explain the collective nature of this particular community under attack, and is a symbol of an identity crisis gripping France and many of its people. Ultimately, the misguided assertion by the French government that it must quickly control the spread of Islamic ideas, in schools for example via Law , or else face further terrorist attacks or a diminishing of a French identity, illustrates the conflict between Islam and Christianity and the inability of a government institution to control identity formation and negotiation effectively. Both of these issues are visually represented by the hijab. This increasingly important symbol (the hijab) and its effect on the formation of French-Muslim identity cannot be underestimated. References Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 211 Al Munajeed, M. (1997). Women in Saudi Arabia today. New York: St Martin s Press. Aslan, R. (2005). No god but God: The origins, evolution, and future of Islam. New York: Random House. Bennhold, K. (2004, October 21). Expulsions in France test truce over scarves. The International Herald Tribune. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from universe Bramham, D. (2004, October 19). Rebuilding the firewall between church and state: What price tolerance? There comes a time when tolerance must give way to protecting core values. The Gazette. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from Carbaugh, D. (1996). Situating selves: The communication of social identities in American scenes. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Carlyle, T. (2002). The French revolution: A history. New York: The Modern Library. Cesari, J. (1994). Être Musulman en France. Paris: Karthala. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2003). Retrieved April 12, 2005, from cu/cup/cee/cee.html Croucher, S. M. (2005). Cultural adaptation and the situation of French immigrants: A case study analysis of French immigration and cultural adaptation. International Journal of Communication, 15(1 2), Croucher, S. M. (2006). The impact of external pressures on an ethnic community: The case of Montréal s Quartier Chinois and Muslim-French immigrants. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 35(3), Croucher, S. M. (2008). Looking beyond the hijab. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. Croucher, S. M. (2009). A mixed method analysis of French-Muslims perceptions of La Loi Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 2, Foucault, M. (1978). The history of sexuality: An introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Pantheon. Ganley, E. (2004, October 21). Islamic group says officials abusing law on religious symbols. Associated Press Worldstream. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from universe Gaspard, F., & Khosrokhavar, F. (1995). Le foulard et le République. Paris: Saint-Amand.

15 212 S. M. Croucher Gebser, J. (1985). The ever-present origin. Athens, OH: Ohio UP. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). Discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine. Gudykunst, W. B., & Kim, Y. Y. (1997). Communicating with strangers: An approach to intercultural communication (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill. Gudykunst, W. B., & Kim, Y. Y. (2003). Communicating with strangers: An approach to intercultural communication (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill. Hall, E. T. (1989). Beyond culture. New York: Anchor Books. Hall, S. (1992). The question of cultural identity. In S. Hall, D. Held & T. McGrew (Eds.), Modernity and its futures (pp ). Cambridge: Polity Press in Association with the Open University. Hargreaves, A. G. (1995). Immigration, race and ethnicity in contemporary France. London: Routledge. Hargreaves, A. G. (2000). The challenges of multiculturalism: Regional and religious differences in France today. In W. Kidd & S. Reynolds (Eds.), Contemporary French cultural studies (pp ). London: Arnold. Hawkins, S. (2003). The essence of the veil: The veil as a metaphor for Islamic women. In E. M. Caner (Ed.), Voices behind the veil (pp ). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. London: McGraw Hill. International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (2005). Intolerance and discrimination against Muslims in the EU: Developments since September 11. Vienna: International Helsinki Federation. Islamic Institute for Human Rights (2005). Country profile: The conditions of Muslims in France. Retrieved January 15, 2005, from Jandt, F. E. (2000). An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Jeffries, S. (2005, January 31). Comment & analysis: If only we were more like the French: Call me a chippy atheist, but I d rather see a headscarf ban than Muslim ghettoes. The Guardian. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from Kastoryano, R. (2002). Negotiating identities: States and immigrants in France and Germany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP. Keaton, T. D. (2006). Muslim girls and the other France: Race, identity politics, & social exclusion. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP. Kedward, R. (2006). France and the French: A modern history. New York: The Overlook Press. Kidd, W. (2000). Frenchness: Constructed and reconstructed. In W. Kidd & S. Reynolds (Eds.), French cultural studies (pp ). New York: Arnold Publishers. Laurence, J., & Vaisse, J. (2006). Integrating Islam: Political and religious challenges in contemporary France. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. LegiFrance (2005). Law Retrieved August 1, 2006, from Visu?cid¼698784&indice¼1&table¼ JORF&ligneDeb¼1 Lengel, L. (2004). Performing in/outside Islam: Music and gendered cultural politics in the Middle East and North Africa. Text and Performance Quarterly, 24, Lewis, B. (1998). The multiple identities of the Middle East. New York: Schocken Books. Lustig, M. W., & Koester, J. (2003). Intercultural competence: Interpersonal communication across cultures. Mishawaka, IN: Better World Books. Nashat, G., & Tucker, J. E. (1999). Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Restoring women to history. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP. Parshall, P, & Parshall, J. (2002). Lifting the veil: The world of Muslim women. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. London: Sage. Roy, O. (2004). Globalized Islam: The search for a new ummah. New York: Columbia UP.

16 Journal of Intercultural Communication Research 213 Sifaoui, M. (2002). La France malade de l islamisme. Paris: Le Cherche Midi. Ting-Toomey, S. (1993). Communicative resourcefulness: An identity negotiation perspective. In R. L. Wiseman & J. Koester (Eds.), Intercultural communication competence (pp ). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Venner, F. (2005). OPA sur l Islam de France: Les ambitions de l UOIF. Paris: Calmann-Lévy.

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