By Linnette Cruz, 10th Grade
On April 11, 2011, the French Republic became the first European country to issue a statute against full-face Islamic hijabs, otherwise known as veils or face-coverings. A decade later, the French Senate has voted in favor of completely prohibiting minors from wearing Islamic headscarves. Additionally, this ban ultimately makes it illegal for Muslim women under the age of 18 to wear the hijab in a public setting, as well as make it illegal for mothers to wear the hijab on school field trips. This new ban, now being called the “separatist bill” has proven to be quite controversial and has been accompanied by thousands of people flocking the streets of France to take a stand against Islamophobia.
The public expression of wearing a hijab has been a very sensitive issue amongst people all over the world. So, you must be wondering: why do some Muslim women choose to wear the hijab? For starters, when seeing a woman wearing a hijab, the first thing that comes to mind to most westerners is that it is a symbol of isolation and oppression in Islamic culture. The truth of the matter is that the hijab is more than just headwear. For hijabi-Muslims, wearing a hijab relates to submission to Allah. It also stands for natural beauty, and the fact that a woman must not live up to societal norms and what it means to be conventionally attractive. The hijab signifies the modesty and purity of the wearer, and serves as a clear signal that they prefer for their purity to remain untainted.
The French ban issued this April 2021 is highly criticized because it restricts Muslims from living their religiously inclined lives. Nevertheless, the French Senate believes that by issuing this bill, they will help end discrimination against young Muslim women and keep these girls from being blinded by their parent’s religion, when in actuality it just increases islamophobia. Furthermore, nowhere in the Quran – the religious book of Islam – does the religion mandate for women to wear a hijab. Although there are many different interpretations of the passage referring to hijab, the Quran overall ordains for both Muslim men and women to dress modestly.
Although the proposed bill still needs to be approved by the National Assembly of France, it has caused chaos amongst both the Muslim and non-Muslim people of France. Many have decided to take to the streets and protest against this religious discrimination, leading to the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab, which has begun to spread all around Twitter and other social media sites. Instead of actually helping the Muslim community and women in general, the French government has taken the right away from Muslim women to dress however they like. The unfortunate reality is that this ban has little to do with freedom, opening up the door to anti-Muslim hatred. This ban is just the most recent example that the hijab is not the oppressor, rather the country imposing this law.
- Beardsley, Eleanor. April 8, 2021. French Senate Voted To Ban The Hijab For Minors In A Plea By The Conservative Right. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from the website: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/08/985475584/french-senate-voted-to-ban-the-hijab-for-minors-in-a-plea-by-the-conservative-ri
- News Desk (GVS). April 5, 2021. Twitter angry as France attempts to ban hijab for females under 18. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from the website: https://www.globalvillagespace.com/twitter-angry-as-france-attempts-to-ban-hijab-for-females-under-18/
- The Cube. April 4, 2021. #HandsOffMyHijab: Online criticism grows over proposed French law banning hijab for children. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from the website: https://www.euronews.com/2021/04/12/handsoffmyhijab-online-criticism-grows-over-proposed-french-law-banning-hijab-for-children
- Azahhaf, Nihale. April 9, 2021. Islamophobia: France’s ‘Separatism Bill’ Sparks Social Media Outcry. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from the website: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2021/04/339337/islamophobia-frances-separatism-bill-sparks-social-media-outcry/
- Chrisafis, Angelique. April 11, 2011. Muslim women protest on first day of France’s face veil ban. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from the website: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/11/france-bans-burqa-and-niqab