By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On January 19, 2022, the French Senate voted in favor of banning religious veils in sporting events held by an official sports federation. The bill passed in a 160 to 143 vote with overwhelming support of the French right-wing party, Les Republicains.
The amendment specifically prohibits clothing “of conspicuous religious symbols.” However, in the bill’s text, they clearly state that the amendment aims to ban “the wearing of the veil in sports competitions.”
The senators that voted on the bill asserted that headscarves could put athletes’ safety at risk and stated that they promote religious liberty but believe religious differences must be put away when playing in the field.
The most affected group will obviously be Muslim women. The French soccer federation already bans women from wearing headscarves in official matches, which is why a group of headscarf-wearing soccer players called Les Hijabeuses (The Hijabies) have been campaigning against that ban. Now their focus is on the bill passed by the French Senate.
This direction in legislation comes at a peculiar time for France. For one, the country has been cracking down on hate-related speech that is also deemed a threat to France’s national security in mosques across the country. The other reason is that France is expected to host the next Summer Olympics in 2024 where people of all creeds and genders will come to participate in the bi-annual event. How this new law will affect the next Olympic games is unknown.