7. What’s Religious Freedom Got to Do With It? On the Niqab Affair in Canadian Politics
Hijacked - A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of Good and Bad Religion - Leslie Dorrough Smith
Matt Sheedy [+]
University of Bonn
Matt Sheedy holds a Ph.D. in the study of religion and is a visiting professor of North American Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research interests include critical social theory, theories of secularism and atheism, as well as representations of Christianity, Islam, and Native American traditions in popular and political culture. He is the author of Owning the Secular: Religious Symbols, Culture Wars, Western Fragility (Routledge, 2021).
This essay considers the recent controversy in Canadian politics over the practice of wearing the niqab. Sheedy shows how the lines of social, political, and religious legitimacy can shift dramatically over a single symbol—in this case, a garment worn by some Muslim women—and can itself become “all things to all people” depending on the cultural context in which it is presented.