France’s move to outlaw wearing the hijab in public places for girls under age 18 was proposed under France’s “Separatist Bill” and approved by Members of Parliament (MP) on February 16th. The French Senate decided in favor of the bill on March 30th.
The Separatist Bill was officially named for “reinforcing Republican principles.” The objective of this legislation is to give France the resources to fight Islamic radicalism.
French senate has voted that no girl under the age of 18 can wear hijab in public and that no Muslim mothers in hijab can be on school field trips.
An absolutely trash & fascist state. pic.twitter.com/01oCyDJKgK
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) March 31, 2021
After it was first presented, Prime Minister Jean Castex stressed, "This legislation is not legislation against religions, nor the Muslim religion in particular. It is a law of emancipation in the face of religious fanaticism."
The bill states, “prohibition in the public space of any conspicuous religious sign by minors and of any dress or clothing which would signify an interiorization of women." Politicians painted this practice as indoctrinating young girls and women to abandon their individualism by making the attire a large part of who they are.
Historically, France has strived to uphold secularism, or separation of religion and state, arguing that religious symbols and attire oppose European individualist principles. If this ruling passes into law, the age of consent for sex (age 15) will be less than the age of consent for the hijab, which will be age 18.
Shocked and saddened, Muslims worldwide are sharing their concerns across social media.
“This is what happens when you normalize anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim hate speech, bias, discrimination, and hate crimes— Islamophobia written into law. May Allah protect our sisters,” wrote Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Muslim Women’s Day founder Amani al-Khatahtbehalso posted on her social media to condemn France’s “Islamaphobia.” She said, “My French sisters, know that we see you, stand with you and fight with you against the globalized Islamophobia that brought us here.”
In May 2020, France enforced wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. But the ban, introduced in 2010, still prohibits Muslim’s face veils, such as the niqab or burqa. Those who wear them are still subject to a 150 euro ($162) fine or must participate in citizenship education.
A French political scientist and professor, Olivier Roy, told Arab News, “They are two completely separate things. The burqa ban concerns the policy of ultra-secularity that we have had for 20 years in France, whereas wearing a protective mask that covers the face attracts the derision of some Muslims who are opposed to the burqa and veil ban.”
French Muslims are speaking out against the double standard of the burqa ban while wearing a protective mask against Covid-19 is enforced.
“I had no mask, and I was allowed in by the police in a train station, where covering my face for religious reasons with a scarf before COVID-19 was not allowed and sanctioned because of its ban in any public space,” a woman posted on social media. “This is irony itself.”
According to Olivier Roy, “The women on Facebook who talk about the obligation to put on the mask while the burqa is banned are simply expressing irony."