Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Leonard Teel

Second Advisor

Shawn Powers

Third Advisor

Hongmei Li


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In October 2010 the Constitutional Council of France approved a law banning the burqa and niqab from all public places. Joining the ongoing scholarly discussion on veiling, this study seeks to understand the role the French press played in legitimating the ban, the first of its kind to be implemented in Europe. I argue that discourse in the press made the legislation appear reasonable and necessary because of its association with gender inequality and religious fundamentalism. This media narrative legitimated the legislation by presenting the veil as intolerable and “against public social order.” Made necessary by rapidly shifting demographics in contemporary France, this discourse was couched in a defensive employment of laïcité.