Restrictions on Muslim Women’s Dress in the 28 EU Member States

Inclusion and pluralism are fundamental values in open societies and the European Union. It is better for everyone to live in a society that is open to diversity, including religious diversity. Yet there is a rising threat in the European Union to these values—legislation enforcing what Muslim women can and cannot wear. Bans on the headscarf and face veils put an unfair restriction on Muslim women who are already facing higher levels of discrimination.

This report fills a much-needed research gap because it looks at both laws and pending legislation restricting religious dress across all 28 EU countries and finds that eight countries are enforcing national and/or local bans on wearing the headscarf or face veil. Country by country, the report examines relevant laws, bylaws, and case law, as well as political platforms, legislative proposals, private bans, and public discourse.

The report also documents the significant and successful pushback against bans at national and local levels from affected Muslim women, grassroots civil society, legal and other experts, national courts, and governments. The responsibility is now on policymakers across the European Union who hold the power to push back against the anti-Muslim rhetoric of the far-right and nationalist parties, and the duty to work with civil society organizations to build societies open to religious diversity and gender equality.