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Sussex Salon Tonight: ‘Are EU countries right to ban the wearing of religious symbols?’

Hijab1I will be appearing at this event tonight. If you are in Brighton, please come along although, annoyingly, it clashes with Judith Butler’s lecture at the University of Sussex at 17h00. I have a feeling this will be an event heavily skewed towards the liberal standpoint of the type advocated by Christian Joppke in his book Veil: Mirror of Identity, an approach we critique in our forthcoming book, The Crises of Multiculturalism (with Gavan Titley). Joppe argues in favour of the French ban on the hijab because, to put it bluntly, you have to be illiberal to protect the overarching values if liberalism which bizarrely place freedom on top of its list of priorities. Mainly in reaction to Joan Scott’s excellent 2007 book, The Politics of the Veil, Joppke continually rejects an analysis of the French ban in terms of racism, poo-pooing any such claim as naive and immature. However, what becomes clear is it is the racialised whose freedom is sacrificable in favour of the protection of the right ‘not to be offended by the Other’ of the dominant culture.

All this in light of the English Defence League’s appearance last night on BBC 2’s Newsnight programme and the call from the Muslim Council of Britain to respond to what AbdoolKarim Vakil of the MCB calls an example of how “mainstream politicians irresponsible remarks license and legitimise populist and extremist racism and Islamophobia.”

A longer and more considered to response to that event will appear here tomorrow in juxtaposition to tonight’s Salon debate – let’s see how far away from each other they will be!

Sussex Salon: ‘Are EU countries right to ban the wearing of religious symbols?’

With Belgium and France taking steps to ban the wearing of veils in public places, and some UK hospitals banning the wearing of crucifixes, we ask whether such steps violate human rights or ensure them? Join the debate with a panel including: Anglican vicar, writer and broadcaster Rev. Peter Owen-Jones (Around the World in 80 Faiths), Dr Alana Lentin (The Politics of Diversity in Europe and Racism: A Beginner’s Guide) and Dr Sue Collard (Politics, University of Sussex). Wed 2 Feb 2011, 8pm, Pavilion Theatre

Alana Lentin