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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

What the Islamic Veil Reveals

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

veil in france

Pierre de Charentenay, S.J.
Gasson Chair, Boston College

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2016
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

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Abstract: The geographical and historical diversity of Islam is substantial. The veil that Muslim women wear is an instrument of cultural and religious identity and has no extreme connotation within Islam. However, the veil has become a hot-button issue in France, which has suffered from attacks by Muslim extremists. The choice to wear the Islamic veil in France is seen by some as a rejection of French identity. Should the French appropriate and welcome Muslim women who wear the veil? Should the Muslim women reject the veil in order to show their allegiance to France? Can their identity come both from France and Islam? During his talk at the Boisi Center, Pierre de Charentenay, S.J., will provide an overview of the situation in France and provide resources for answering these difficult questions.

Pierre de charentenay

Pierre de Charentenay, S.J., holds the 2015-16 Gasson Chair at Boston College. Since 2014 he has been a member of the college of writers for the Civiltà Cattolica, the magazine of the Roman Jesuits overseen by Vatican authorities. He is a former president of the Centre Sèvres, the Paris Institute of Higher Education of the Society of Jesus, and was the Chief Editor of the monthly journal of the Jesuits of France, Études, from 2004 to 2012. He is the author of nine books including Les Philippines, Archipel Asiatique et Catholique, Regagner L'Europe and Les Nouvelles Frontières de Laïcité and over 500 essays featured in French and foreign journals and newspapers. He has also given numerous conference presentations and workshops across the globe. Fr. de Charentenay entered the order of the Society of Jesus in 1965 and received his Ph.D. in political science from the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris in 1980.

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In the News

In response to the shocking terrorist attacks in France, education Minister Vallaud-Belkacem called for reforming the teaching of secularism to prevent future radicalization. She also admitted that too often French secularism, known as laïcité, has been misappropriated by far-right politicians as a tool against Islam and the Muslim minorities in France. In his upcoming talk on February 25 at the Boisi Center, Pierre de Charentenay, S.J., will address the divisive issue of veiling in French public schools and speak to reconciling French and Muslim identities. 

"Until French policymakers find a way to give all citizens equal rights to communal attachments, France will not be able to find a way to bring them fully together" argues BC political science professor Jonathan Laurence in his recent piece for Foreign Affairs. This spring, Pierre de Charentenay, S.J. will speak at the Boisi Center on “What the Islamic Veil Reveals.”