France Places New Restrictions on Hijab
“When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them”, said the country’s education minister, Gabriel Attal. This is the first major decision made by Mr Attal who was appointed as education minister by Emmanuel Macron this summer.
France has banned wearing headscarves in state schools since 2004. Jew kippers and Christian crosses were also forbidden, all as ostentatious signs of religion. In 2010, France banned wearing full face veils in public which triggered the Muslim community. There are more than five million Muslims living in France. Abayas are long robes that are worn by some Muslims in schools and girls from Muslim families use them as a way of covering their bodies. Unfortunately, the new law that will be enforced in September of 2023 targets all those families directly.
Hijab restrictions have been a controversial issue in France for many years and now a lot of people argue that abayas do not necessarily imply a religious faith being exercised since they can also be seen as a fashion item designed by designers; therefore, there seems to be a lot of gray areas around this subject. This is viewed as an issue politically polarizing the atmosphere and an unreasonable war about women’s dress.
Freemuslim’s view is that the whole concept of forcing women to unveil their hair and change the way they see fit to clothe themselves is an unacceptable behavior on the government’s part, especially in a country claiming to be a democratic one. Every individual should be able to choose their style of dressing, whether to follow a specific way recommended by their religion or any other way they find appropriate for the situation and the law has to be there to support them in their decision and not limit them. In such cases where there are rules set by the government which contradict some regulations already established by the religion they follow and find important, people need to be provided with alternative choices and it is the law that is responsible for that.
Muslims play an important role in France’s economic, social and political existence and deserve to have their voices heard and their religious way of living respected. We urge the government to facilitate an environment where people can practice their faith while being constructive contributors to society. We also ask French Muslims to seek their rights peacefully and lead by example. Islam endures diversity and so should the French Muslims, and it is important to seek change through proper channels and become more active socially and politically so the voices of French Muslims are heard better.