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Unveiling the myth of the Muslim woman: a postcolonial critique

Golnaz Golnaraghi (Faculty of Business, Sheridan College, Mississauga, Canada)
Albert J. Mills (Sobey's School of Business, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 8 February 2013




The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between neo‐colonialist discourse and Quebec's proposed Bill 94 aimed at restricting the public activities of niqab and veil‐wearing Muslim women.


Drawing upon postcolonial feminist frames, this study critically analyzes the discourses of Muslim women and Western elites that serve to construct the niqab and veil‐wearing Muslim women. Using critical discourse analysis of digital and print media articles from 1994 to 2010, the authors trace the discursive character of the Muslim woman related to Bill 94 which proposes the banning of religious face coverings when seeking public services in the Province of Quebec, Canada.


This paper develops a postcolonial understanding of the discursive conditions that constitute the social environment in which Muslim women are required to operate in Quebec and the advent of Bill 94. The authors contend that the discourses in the construction of Muslim women have mutated over time towards Western cultural hegemony and paternalism, and, in the process, Muslim women have been constructed as oppressed, in need of saving, and at the same time not to be trusted.

Research limitations/implications

The account of events in this paper offer an alternative lens in privileging some of the embedded beliefs and values behind dominant cultural accounts of Quebec in relation to Muslim women and Bill 94. Future scholars may wish to extend this study through examining discourses of secular, veil and niqab‐wearing Muslim women; newcomers, those living in Canada for a longer period and those born in Canada; as well as those from different countries of origin. Another area of research that is ripe for exploration is workplace experiences of Muslim women in Canada. Additionally, examination of overt and subtle discrimination faced by Muslim women would provide important insights into employment equity and human rights.


This paper presents a close look at public discourses around the niqab and Muslim women in Canada, demonstrating the persistence of colonial dynamics and mindsets influencing how issues regarding minority groups are evaluated today.



Golnaraghi, G. and Mills, A.J. (2013), "Unveiling the myth of the Muslim woman: a postcolonial critique", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 157-172.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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