The Norwegian Political Discourse on Prohibiting Muslim Garments. An Analysis of Four Cases in the Period 2008–2018

  • Bengt-Ove Andreassen The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø


The public and political debate about Islam and Muslims in Norway have revolved around issues like topics of integration and “radicalisation” and the compatibility of Islam with democracy and “Western values”. Clothing related to Muslims – i.e. Muslim women – such as hijab, niqab, and burqa are in the public and political debate often referred to as examples that Islam is not compatible with “Norwegian” (or “Western”) values. Several political initiatives in order to ban Muslim garments in public places or in school has been rejected with reference to the Norwegian state’s obligations to Human Rights. This article will illustrate how the political debate about Muslim garments have evolved in the period from 2008 to 2018. Four cases will be presented to illustrate this development, and show how each case have been evaluated by the Ministry of Justice in order to decide whether or not the propositions could be a violation of the Norwegian state’s obligation to Human Rights. The fourth case will illustrate how secular arguments, and the strategic understanding of niqab and burqa as “neutrally designed”, paved the way for a national regulation and a ban on clothing covering the face in educational settings.

Author Biography

Bengt-Ove Andreassen, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø

Bengt-Ove Andreassen, PhD, is a full professor in the field of study of religions at the Department of Education, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. His main areas of research are didactics of religions (RE), religion in public education, the Laestadian revival movement, and religion and Human Rights.


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How to Cite
Andreassen, B. (2019). The Norwegian Political Discourse on Prohibiting Muslim Garments. An Analysis of Four Cases in the Period 2008–2018. Changing Societies & Personalities, 3(4), 353–372. doi:10.15826/csp.2019.3.4.082