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Living Together v. Living Well Together: a Normative Examination of the SAS Case

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Beaman, Lori G.

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Abstract The European Court of Human Rights decision in SAS from France illustrates how a policy and national mantra that ostensibly aims to enhance inclusiveness, ‘living together’, is legally deployed in a manner that may have the opposite effect. In essence, despite acknowledging the sincerity of SAS’s religious practice of wearing the niqab, and her agency in making the decision to do so, the Court focuses on radicalism and women’s oppression amongst Muslims. Taking the notion of living together as the beginning point, the paper explores the normative assumptions underlying this notion as illustrated in the judgment of the Court. An alternative approach, drawing on the work of Derrida for the notion of ‘living well together’ will be proposed and its implications for social inclusion explicated. The paper’s aim is to move beyond the specific example of SAS and France to argue that the SAS pattern of identifying particular values as ‘national values’, the deployment of those values through law, policy and public discourse, and their exclusionary effects is playing out in a number of Western democracies, including Canada, the country with which the author is most familiar. Because of this widespread dissemination of values and their framing as representative of who ‘we’ are, there is a pressing need to consider the potentially alienating effects of a specific manifestation of ‘living together’ and an alternative model of ‘living well together’. (author's abstract)
Keywords France; legislation; act; religiousness; religious community; religious policy; Islam; cultural identity; social norm; conflict of values; exclusion; prejudice; stereotype; woman; Muslim; clothing; human rights; social integration
Classification Sociology of Religion; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 3-13
Journal Social Inclusion, 4 (2016) 2
Issue topic Religious Diversity and Social Inclusion
ISSN 2183-2803
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution