13 February 2018, GENEVA - The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, is organizing an exhibition and a panel discussion on the theme “Veiling/Unveiling: The Headscarf in Christianity, Islam and Judaism”.
These events seek to counter misconceptions, to deconstruct stereotypes and to show the role of the headscarf as a bridge between cultures and religions, rather than as an alien practice giving rise to divergence, intolerance or exclusion. The goal is to shed light on the history and the true symbolism of the headscarf today.
The panel discussion will take place on Friday, 23 February 2018, from 11:45 to 13:00, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (Room XXI).
The Chairman of the Geneva Centre’s Board of Management, H. E. Dr. Hanif Al Qassim, and Mr. Toufik Djouama, Deputy Permanent Representative of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland, will deliver inaugural addresses. Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, Executive Director of the Geneva Centre, will be moderating the discussion.
The panel will consist of speakers with extensive knowledge of the topic. The following panel members will participate at the session:
- Ms. Elisabeth Reichen- Amsler, Director of the section « Church and society » within the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Neuchâtel Canton (EREN);
- Dr. Malika Hamidi, PhD in Sociology at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) Paris, author of « Un féminisme musulman, et pourquoi pas ? » (L’Aube, 2017);
- Dr. Valérie Rhein, PhD in Judaism at the Institute of Jewish Studies, University of Bern.
Negative depictions of the headscarf, claiming it to be irreconcilable with secularity and with women’s rights, contribute to the creation of a fertile ground for discrimination and violence. As a result of stereotyping, the headscarf has now become a trigger for discrimination against women in society. The exhibition and the panel debate “Veiling/Unveiling” seek to shed light on the Islamic headscarf, and to trace its joint history in the Judaic, Christian and Muslim civilizations, thus counteracting politically-driven clichés.
The main message of the panel discussion scheduled for 23 February 2018 is that, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that includes the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief in public or private, it is crucial to defend the right of women to choose freely to wear or not to wear the headscarf, without fearing repercussions from a legal point of view, nor any form of social opprobrium.
The only way to defend women’s rights and to promote the advancement of their status is to respect their right to choose. This event represents an encouragement to break down barriers built on prejudice, and to replace the fear of the Other, with a vision that embraces the Other and celebrates diversity.