France Denies Acts of Islamophobia
“France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race, or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.”
In April 2021, the French senate voted to ban minors’ use of hijabs, or Muslim veils, in public. Another amendment bans the halal slaughtering of chicken. And another bans Muslim mothers to wear hijabs whilst accompanying their children on school trips. These are only a few of the many proposed and voted for amendments against Muslim residents. And yet, France denies it being Islamophobic.
The “Anti-separatism” bill was said to stop radicalization or the process by which individuals or groups come to adopt radical views in opposition to a political, social, or religious status quo. Though it is not specific to any religious groups, the amendments in the bill certainly target the millions of Muslims residing in France. Despite the clear Islamophobic intentions, the French reject the term “Islamophobic” still believe that it will help “liberate” Muslim women due to the “oppression” they face by their own religion.
“As a French-Muslim woman, I am exhausted and angry to see once again, the policing of my beliefs, my choices, and my body. My country has made me choose between my hijab and my education, my career, my engagement in sports, and my duty as an aunt wanting to chaperone my nieces in schools. As a French citizen, I am stripped of my most basic human rights.” Hiba Latreche, the Vice-president of Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organization or FEMYSO for Aljazeera.
People from all over the world are engaged. Hashtags such as #Boycottfrance, #PasToucheAMonHijab or #HandsOffMyHijab, and #FranceHijabBan have circulated social media in hopes to bring awareness to such conflict, to bring change, and to show support for French-Muslim women, men, and children that are affected. People held protests against the French Government with a clear statement: Stop the Islamophobic policies. To make matters worse, the French age of consent is 15 while the age French-Muslim women can wear a hijab is 18. Social media was quick to point out the disparity and concluded that this was no longer about secularism nor radicalization, it was about their obvious hate.
This wasn’t the first time France has undergone criticism due to Islamophobia. In 2020, a French teacher, Samuel Paty showed his class controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. In Islam, there are no depictions of what the Prophet Muhammed looks like, therefore this is considered forbidden. He was then beheaded by 18-year-old Russian-Muslim, Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov. The statement of President Emmanuel Macron of France has sparked controversy in the Islamic world as he said that the incident was, "a typical Islamist terrorist attack,” and that, "our compatriot was killed for teaching children freedom of speech.” Macron then argues that controversial cartoons should be defended on free speech grounds.
Because of President Macron’s statement, demonstrations and protesters from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia swarmed the streets chanting, “No defamation of the Prophet Mohammed!” while holding posters, marching, and even burning effigies of the French president. This then led to the boycott of French products in many countries, even including Qatar.
“Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,“- Maximilien Robespierre.
Liberty is not a restriction. Equality is not oppression. Fraternity is not division.
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