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Unveiling The Ludicrousness Of French U18 Hijab Ban

Olivia Bothamley-Dakin argues France's new Hijab ban is the antithesis of what the government claims it to be.

France’s national motto is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” – liberty, equality and fraternity. Yet, banning the hijab is the direct antithesis of this. Stopping Muslim women from comfortably going to a swimming pool is not freedom. Regulating what Muslim women wear is not equality. Alienation of the French Muslim community is not fraternal

At the end of March, the French Senate voted to ban the Hijab for Muslim girls under the age of 18. They also voted to ban burkinis and prohibit hijab-wearing women from accompanying school trips. These measures are not enshrined in law just yet – they still need to be confirmed by the National Assembly.

I for one am praying that these measures never become law. A prayer I feel is becoming increasingly less likely to be granted.

The clue is in the name. This so called “separatist” bill will further the divide between the French government and the French Muslim community, the largest Muslim community in Europe.

Sacha Houlie, a French lawyer and National Assembly member has described the bill as “counterproductive.” It is highly possible that the bill will further isolate the Muslim community.  Backlash is expected, and rightly so.

Opponents of the veil have said that it is averse to the European principle of “individualism”, but the proposed laws themselves flout this principle. They limit Muslim girls’ freedom of individual choice.

The Burkini ban angers me. The French are attacking Muslim women for being too modest? If a girl rocked up at a pool in leggings and a base layer that would be fine, but she cannot turn up in a Burkini?

The bill is the government policing women’s bodies. It’s heartbreaking that Britons are outraged when a white woman can’t wear a crop top on a flight, but stay silent when a Muslim woman is told she can’t wear a Burkini.

Burqa and Hijab bans are dangerously becoming an international trend. Sri Lanka has recently announced their intention to ban the burqa and close over 1000 Islamic Schools.

These bans are reprehensible – they’re writing Islamophobia into the law.

Banning the hijab fuels stereotypes of Muslim women as meek, oppressed or dangerous terrorists. Why do the French fear a Muslim face covering when they’ve become the norm across the country during the pandemic?

The age of consent for sex in France is now lower than that permissible for wearing a hijab. The ban is ludicrousness.

The ban reeks of the white-saviour trope, the hijab is not a threat. Concerns have been raised that this ban could pave the way for further discriminatory policies against Muslims. French society is expressing a desire to dictate how women dress and to limit their religious freedoms. They present as wanting to help the “oppressed”, but all such policies do is enable them to become the oppressors themselves.

You may see the Burqa as a sign of religious extremism. You may say the Hijab is oppressive. Yet surely it is not the decision of the French government to stop these practices. It is not our choice. We must not dictate who gets to wear a hijab.

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