Women in Morocco and second-generation women of Moroccan origin in France share significant similarities concerning major life issues such as their conception of Islam, legal changes affecting women on both sides of the Mediterranean, and personal and professional issues. A hard demarcation line is oft en drawn between the Arab/Muslim world and secular Western societies and is drawn into question when minority populations are taken into consideration.
This is a comparative, qualitative study examining attitudinal changes and discerning cultural trends based on in-depth interviews with samples of young, educated, and professional women in Morocco and in France. The purpose of the comparison was to determine the extent of similarities and differences in attitudes among the samples. The interview schedule focused on three themes: conceptions of Islam, legal Changes in Morocco and in France that impact Muslim women, i.e., the Personal Status Code (moudawana) reform in Morocco, the ban on wearing “overt” religious insignia in public schools in France, and personal and professional goals and challenges. The data analysis shows that the greatest similarities occur among samples and the greatest differences appear within each sample. Overall, conceptions of Islam are marked by a desire for personal interpretation, individual application, and a reading of the Qur’an that emphasizes equality between men and women. The similarities in attitudes can be attributed in large parts to high levels of education in both samples and exposure to global trends.