Pascale Fournier publishes « Voiles/Voiler »

Professor Fournier contributes to a major collective work titled “L’accommodement de la diversité religieuse“, which brings together French, Belgian and Canadian authors under the direction of Emanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive (P.L.E. Peter Lang editions).

In their article “Voiles/Voiler“, Pascale Fournier and Emmanuelle Jacques tackle the delicate problematic of bans on face-covering veils. Carefully analyzing Bill 94, submitted by the Parti Libéral du Québec in 2010, professor Fournier looks at the semantic gap between what the legislative proposition pretended to do and what it effectively aimed at. In fact, as the natural outcome of a long dialogue between the government and the people on reasonable accommodations, this bill’s sole self-proclaimed purpose was to better regulate ostentatious religious practices. It did not acknowledge its gendered nature, nor did it consider its anticipated social effects on marginalized women. Fournier and Jacques pay careful attention to the words chosen by the legislator to convey «state neutrality» as the premise informing such a proposition and under which other unannounced concerns were prevalent.

Professor Fournier underlines the risks of instrumentalizing a consensual social objective to the detriment of women’s needs by comparing this Quebec episode to similar legislative proposals in Europe. Although Bill 94 never became law, the issues it raised remain highly relevant in this timely debate that will not cease to generate strong positions. The book “L’accommodement de la diversité” offers multiples perspectives on this delicate challenge that is the coexistence of religious faith and its rejection in the name of a sacrosanct “neutrality” in societies where civic encounters are essential.

Fournier and Jacques call for caution : ” in response to a “crisis of perceptions”, the bill proposes a remedy hat is just as anchored in perceptions : by manipulating words, subtleties, hidden meanings, the “equality and resemblance -or lack thereof- of a representation and a concept”, the legislator further contributes to the manufacturing of a collective judgment. To veil : to reveal. To hide : to expose. Amidst this debate, this permanent yet vain oscillation between exclusion and inclusion, reserve and visibility, individuality and collectiveness. The painful tear of the encounter that never fully takes place. To the detriment of a generalized distrust that makes the veil an object of despise and fear, always distanced and differentiated, why not prefer another metaphor, that of the body whose presence and participation is wanted, but whose visibility is irrelevant. Veils. Anchors.”