Interdit De Porter Le Foulard ... But I Can Wear My Headscarf!
France and Britain have a large immigrant population that emerged from the legacy of the Colonial Empire and whose ethnic origins and beliefs vary. A significant proportion of this population is of Islamic faith. Attempts to integrate the Muslim ethnic minority into the host society have revealed that there are differences in the ways the two countries accept cultural practices in the sphere of state and societal affairs. On the one hand, Britain bases its societal structures around multiculturalism and communitarianism supporting the right to display religious symbols in the public sphere, hence showing acceptance of cultural differences. France, on the other hand, rejects fundamentally a society based on communitarianism and bases its societal structure around the Republican principal and value of ‘laïcité’ (i.e. secularism). This paper will present findings from a comparative study investigating the ways and strategies by which Britain and France address the issues surrounding the social integration of the Muslim ethnic community in their society. The aim of the study is to understand whether the British and French educational systems recognize diversity and how they accommodate the needs of ethnic groups.
Keywords: Muslim, Integration, Britain, France, Education
Department of Sociology, University of Surrey