Targeting Muslims Through Women’s Dress: The Niqab and the Psychological War against Muslims

  • Susan S. M. EdwardsEmail author


Susan S. M. Edwards expounds upon the need to recognise that the habituated vilification of ‘the Muslim’ in the media, the public monolithic discourse that essentialises and demonises them, the refusal to recognise verbal attacks on Muslims as race hatred and the condonation of insult as satire in the context of rising xenophobia, all demonstrate the necessity for a ‘real time’ analysis. Marked out by their clothing women, especially, have become identifiable targets for right-wing extremism and violent assault whose hurt and disposal is rendered no more than ‘collateral damage’ and in whose victimisation public discourse and media representation in promoting orientalised and racialised tropes of Muslims must bear some responsibility. Edwards notes with irony that the Western world, in a self-professed secular crusade against the niqab, has positioned itself thereby as the saviour of womankind. She notes how, in very recent times, the once recognised polysemicity of the niqab (Young 2003) with its several and contradictory meanings, are understandings that have become displaced and subjugated in the Foucauldian sense (Foucault 1980), whilst a highly orientalised trope of the niqab and its wearer (and to a lesser extent the hijab) becomes fetishised at national and governmental level. There is now little inclination to understand why women wear the niqab, even less to give them a voice from their subject position. What emerges, Edwards posits, is that the niqab has become central to the project of Western nation states’ condemnation of the Muslim ‘other’.


Domestic Violence Hate Crime Muslim Woman Muslim Community Muslim Culture 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BuckinghamBuckinghamUK

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