Hijab Ban Encourages Bias: French Muslims
Hijab Ban Encourages Bias: French Muslims
More than a decade after imposing hijab ban in France, Muslims in the European country complained that the ban has given "cover" to acts of discrimination against their community.
“What did we do wrong?” a Muslim child asked his mother after being barred from entering the inflatable toys on a temporary beach near Paris, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, May 27.
The mother of the 9-year-old child, Malek Layouni, was recounting how she felt humiliated when local officials blocked her path to the amusement site for wearing the Islamic head attire
Turned away in front of friends and neighbors, Layouni still has no answer for her son's question.
In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress for Muslims, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.
France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.
Besides the current bans, several politicians have called for extending the prohibition of the Islamic veil to jobs, educational institutions and community life.
Debates surrounding the Islamic veil have resurfaces recently, backed by Paris attacks that left 17 killed, including two Muslims.
Critics of hijab ban argued that the calls for new anti-hijab measures would encourage more bias against Muslims in general and veiled women in particular.
They also claimed that further restrictions would foster radicalization and increasing the gap between Muslims & non-Muslims.
The situation for French Muslims has been deteriorating recently, especially after January’s Charlie Hebdo attack.
In April, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia warned of an unprecedented increase in Islamophobic attacks in France during the first three months of 2015, rising by six-fold than in 2014.
Islamophobic actions soared by 500% compared to the same period in 2011, according to the observatory.
The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over 100 incidents have been reported to the police since the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7-9.
The observatory also noted that more than 222 separate acts of anti-Muslim behavior were recorded in the first month after the January attacks.
As Islmophobia soars in France, Muslims women became the main target of anti-Muslim racial attacks, being easily recognized for their Islamic attire.
According to the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, 80% of Islamophobic attacks in 2013 and 2014 targeted Muslim women, mostly veiled.
“What is revolting is that such things take place in broad daylight and with the total indifference of the people around,” said Abdallah Zekri, the group’s president.
Since imposing a ban on the Islamic face-veil, niqab, in 2011, only about 1,000 fines have been issued.
While some fully veiled women defy the ban and pay the fine, other Muslim women felt under siege, afraid to leave home, researchers warned.
“It is the worst-case scenario,” said Naima Bouteldja, who wrote two reports on the subject for the nonprofit Open Society Foundations, which supports human rights.
“They are not liberated, they are imprisoned by this law.”
Many believe that the ban exposes the double standards of the European country, where fully veiled tourist from the Middle East can tour the Champs-Élysées freely without being "ticketed" or discriminated against.
France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe.
French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices.
Adding to French Muslim woes, the French minister of education in December 2013 has maintained an earlier ban on hijab for Muslim volunteers in school trips, ignoring a legal advice from France’s Council of State.
According to the controversial directive, a ban on wearing religious symbols in schools was extended to parents on school trips from wearing religious symbols.
“France wanted us when they needed us,” Ouassila Arab, 34, one mother barred from such activities, said.
“Now they are not so interested.”
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