Studies in Philosophy and Education 33 (3):303-313 (2014)

Women’s bodies, states Benhabib (Dignity in adversity: human rights in troubled times, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011: 168), have become the site of symbolic confrontations between a re-essentialized understanding of religious and cultural differences and the forces of state power, whether in their civic-republican, liberal-democratic or multicultural form. One of the main reasons for the emergence of these confrontations or public debates, says Benhabib (2011: 169), is because of the actual location of ‘political theology’. She asserts that within the context of globalization, the concept of ‘political theology’ is complicated by its unstable location between religion and the public square; between the private and official; and between individual rights to freedom of religion versus state security and public well-being. Ultimately, therefore, the nature of the tension between religion as a political theology and the forces of state power can at best be described as a clash between identities of a collective nature (as envisaged by the nation-state) and identities of an individual nature (as manifested in different religions and cultures). Ongoing attempts to counter the ascendancy of religion, and as will be discussed in this article, specifically the ascendancy and visibility of Islamic identity as practiced by Muslim women, has brought into serious debate the notion of a (post) secular society and its implications for religious rights. What emerges from the state’s insistence that individuals not be allowed to enter the public discourse as religious beings, are, on the one hand, the constraints imposed on Muslim women by liberal democracies, and on the other hand, that Islam, as represented by Muslim women, is not constitutive of democratic citizenship. Will the inclusion and recognition of Muslim women, therefore, necessarily augment a democratic citizenship agenda, and will it lead to an alleviation of the conflict? Then, in exploring a re-articulation of an inclusive citizenship—one which is held accountable by its minimization of social inequality—what ought to be the parameters of inclusion and how should it unfold differently to what is already happening in liberal democracies?
Keywords Muslim women  (Post) secular society  Religious freedom  Democratic citizenship
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DOI 10.1007/s11217-013-9389-9
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Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity.D. W. Hamlyn - 1991 - British Journal of Educational Studies 39 (1):101.

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