This paper explores the subtexts of the controversy generated by the hijab in Irish schools and, more specifically, what these reveal about the Irish education system’s level of acceptance of (religious) diversity, as assessed on a spectrum of non-toleration, toleration and respect-recognition. Using a critical discourse analysis approach, the study highlights and examines the main argumentative strategies through which the hijab controversy and its repercussions have been constructed and debated in Ireland. These reveal that, while the Irish education system has been able to offer a level of structural and practical accommodation to (religious) minorities – including Muslims – acceptance of religious diversity can be dependent on a number of factors, including the limited nature of the claim and the size of the minority, and is also conditional on the consequences of such diversity for the schools’ self-perception.
Source: Education Inquiry, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 149–166, March 2013
Journal available at http://www.education-inquiry.net/index.php/edui/issue/view/1530