After Hijab ban in France, protests escalate


Photo courtesy Rawdah, "rawdis" on Instagram

Somalian model Rawdah posted an image on Instagram with the phrase “Hands off my Hijab” written on her palm.

The intent to ban hijabs for women under 18 in France is a direct result of men wanting to control what women wear and Islamophobia, and is an absolute violation of freedom of religion.

The hijab ban is a gross violation of bodily autonomy.”

— Lukas Maier

President Macron’s “anti-separatism” bill has been amended by the French senate, calling for hijab-wearing to not be allowed publicly, especially at pools and in sports, particularly if the game is televised. The amendment passed 177 to 141; senators from the Socialist, Communist and On the Move party voting against it. The amendment is unlikely to become law, as the National Assembly has voiced its discontent with the measure. Regardless of its likelihood to be enacted, it is horrifying that white men in power feel they should have any authority over a woman’s religious clothing choices. Junior Lukas Maier feels that “the hijab ban is a gross violation of bodily autonomy.”

The amendment claims to be beneficial for anti-separatism, to stop religious divide and inequity among Muslim women and girls, disguising the true, ill and bigotted intent behind the measure. The French conservative party fears “religious extremism,” or maybe they just fear not being able to control women.

France has claimed to embrace freedom of religion, as stated in their constitution, but the country’s Islamophobic history, including French colonialism and terrorist attacks, has allowed for continued proposed legislation with the intent to strip Muslim people of their culture. Hijabs have been banned in public schools since 2004 and in private schools shortly following, full facial-covering hijabs have also been banned in public spaces. Abdelaziz Chaambi, President and Founder of Coordination against Racism and Islamophobia (CRI) in France said that “the perception of Muslims as second-class citizens like in the days of French Algeria is still significantly dominant.” Anti-Muslim lawmakers need to be voted out of office and the religiously motivated amendments should be continuously blocked.

Political scientist Jean-Yves Camus explained that the conservative right and the far-right are divided in France, similarly to how they are in the US. The conservative right wants to “try to win back those voters” by proposing wildly xenophobic amendments- seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

The #handsoffmyhijab religious advocacy movement has existed for years, but has surged in the past month with France’s attempt to further control hijab wearing. The trending hashtag has gained popularity, spreading awareness of the issue, and has led to an increase in advocacy, particularly from Muslim women.

The repeated oppression of Muslim women needs to end. The theory of anti-separatism does not justify their freedoms being infringed upon because of religiously motivated fear. Maier hopes that by spreading awareness on injustices such as these, more people will “fight harder for the liberation of all people, and love justice with all their heart.”