Hijab Ban in France
France has since banned religious symbols such as face coverings, niqabs, and burqas in 2004 and 2010; recently, the country had passed an amendment that would restrict Muslim women under 18 from wearing the hijab in public, and another from wearing the burqini at public pools and beaches. Both were introduced by France's far-right conservative party leader Marine Le Pen.
France considers itself to be a secular country, its government not bound to religious order, thus allowing others to practice their faith equally. Still, these values are being distorted for "banning" religion, Islam especially, which is mainly done through the restrictions on religious symbols, such as the veil.
Image is courtesy of Halisia Hubbard/NPR.
President Macron has also empowered police and closed down mosques, under the excuse that some were receiving "illicit funds" and other organizations considered Islamist, which has since then opened discussion of the right ways to combat extremism. Macron has also developed the legislation initially called the "anti-separatism bill" that targets Islamic organizations' foreign funding.
The reason behind the banning was allegedly to address religious extremism, though it is unlikely for these to become laws. Eleanor Beardsley, a reporter at NPR, stated that another amendment regarding wearing the hijab in televised national sports competitions would be treated similarly, "These are amendments to a larger French bill… They have no chance of becoming law...even if they did pass the country's constitutional council would likely strike them down so that they don't have a chance of becoming law."
Le Pen garnered support from frustration over the pandemic and the beheading of a teacher by an extremist. The eighteen-year-old beheaded the school teacher, and he displayed offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a free speech lesson. The event led to arguments over the "threat" of Islamism, putting France's values of secularism up for global debate.
Due to the upcoming election, many conservative right voters have transferred to the far right. "If they want to win back these votes, they have to propose legislation that is at least as xenophobic", says Jean-Yves Camus, French political scientist.
At this time, Muslims in France feel discriminated against. It's described that even "Catholic and Jewish leaders have spoken out to warn against it. Many say it's not about extremism, but it's against religion". Many Muslim women have experienced shame for wearing the hijab early in their youth. The headscarf is tied to religion and is used to demonstrate their devotion to God, although many women have their own beliefs for adopting it. Overall it's the women's decision in Islam to decide how they wish to represent their religion, and women who do choose to wear the hijab are not considered oppressed.
Article Author: Idil Gure
Article Editors: Olivia Ye, Stephanie Sahadeo