Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Global and International Studies

First Advisor

Vincent Desroches

Second Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa

Third Advisor

Jane Baas


In 2003, the French state appointed the Stasi Commission to determine whether or not “ostentatious symbols” should be banned in public schools. Their investigation concluded that the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public schools defied the principle of secularism and in March of 2004, legislation was passed banning all religious symbols, including the Muslim hijab in public schools. Six years after Law No. 2004-228 was passed, the Sarkozy administration passed a similar law also targeting Muslim women. Known as the “burqa ban” (an erroneous term used to describe the niqab) Law No. 2010-1192 forbids the concealing of one’s face in all public spaces. Within these laws lies an amalgam of themes pertaining to French identity, integration policy, and Muslim women’s stature in French society, all while bearing undertones of neocolonialism. This honors thesis examines the political and feminist public discourses found within this sensationalized debate, and argues that the two are as intertwined and problematic as the two laws themselves.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access