Fereshta Ludin’s struggle to be appointed as a public school teacher while wearing a hijab received massive media attention in Germany, while the xenophobically motivated murder of Marwa el-Sherbini, who was eventually dubbed the “hijab martyr” internationally, elicited muted response. Yet interpreting the reactions to these two cases together reveals much about the existence of racism and Islamophobia in contemporary Germany. In this article I juxtapose the public discussions of these two cases to consider the potential for a critique of headscarf discourse. I suggest that interrogation of headscarf discourse is only possible by turning the very notion of critique against itself in order to interrogate the conditions of secularism.

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