The political debates on the veil in France and the Netherlands: reflecting national integration models?

Sawitri Saharso, D. Lettinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we compare the politicization and framing of the Islamic veil in parliamentary debates in France and the Netherlands between 1989 and 2007. If stark national differences in the framing of the issue can be found in the 1990, later years show more convergence, when the debate shifted to the 'burqa' in both countries. One important and persistent difference, however, is that arguments concerning gender equality played only a minor role in the debate in the Netherlands in contrast to France. Although the article holds it highly plausible that national particularities are to some extent in a path-dependent way informed by national ways of managing diversity, it concludes that these findings cannot be traced back to national integration models. Not only migrant integration policies shift over time, they also interact with other institutional settings, notably of state–church relations and gender equality. This influence of interacting settings on the debate explains why accommodative headscarf policies can emerge in a 'republican' country and restrictive policies in countries with assumed 'multicultural' models. Moreover, similarities 'in framing' can also be observed, such as a gendered culturalization of citizenship that in both countries is pushed by Right-wing populist parties tapping into (inter)national discourses on Islamic radicalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-336
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • METIS-290596
  • IR-82514


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