Yasmin Mohamud. Photo / Samiira Wali

A Local Perspective On The French Senate's Recent Vote To Ban The Hijab

Fresh from our autumn fashion cover shoot, model and student Yasmin Mohamud shares her views on the recent vote to ban hijabs for Muslims under 18

Identity and self-expression is fundamental not only in fashion but a basic human right.

On March 30, the French Senate voted in favour of the "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 over men.”

Affecting Muslims under 18, the ban would also mean mothers with a hijab cannot accompany their kids on school trips.

The vote does not mean this has come into law yet as the bill must be confirmed by the National Assembly first - but for many Muslims around the world, this latest news is seen as a direct violation of human rights.
Amnesty International Europe has since condemned the bill and said that it attacks the rights for Muslim women living in France.

"Time and again we have seen the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalisation’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds, which risks leading to discrimination in its application against Muslims and other minority groups" explained one of Amnesty International Europe's researchers Marco Perolini.

Only last month in Switzerland, over 51 percent of Swiss voters cast their ballots in favour an initiative to ban people from covering their face completely on the street, in shops and in restaurants.

Since 2004, veils have already been banned in French public schools. Should this latest ruling get passed into law, the age of consent for sex in France (15 years) will be significantly lower than the age of consent for wearing a hijab.

For local Biomed student Yasmin Mohamud - who recently featured our autumn fashion issue celebrating modest dressing and highlighting the myriad ways to wear a headscarf - the news is a restriction on the freedom of personal expression. 

"The hijab ban for under 18-year-olds in France makes me feel so sick. It's very frustrating as a Muslim woman to hear what Muslim women in France are going through right now. I can’t imagine being forced to take off my hijab at any age. I would feel so violated. Forcing women to let go of their sense of self and beliefs so they can be a part of society is blatant islamophobia.

National Assembly member and French lawyer Sacha Houlie warned that an imminent ban would be counterproductive and cause some Muslims to further withdraw from society.

"France loves to claims that Muslim women lack freedom of choice but then strip them of the ability to choose" says Yasmin. 

"During their occupation of Algeria, French colonial doctrine was targeted at forcing women to remove the hijab. To them, conquering women meant conquering Algeria. It's sickening to see that France still operates on this same colonial agenda. If a Muslim woman says she chooses to wear the hijab as one of the many ways she expresses her devotion - listen to her and respect that."

"How is she different from a nun? It all comes down to islamophobia. France has already banned burqas and tried to ban halal meat, which is all a part of a peaceful religion and culture that harms no one. Everyone should be able to embrace and celebrate their religion, culture and who they are without having to hide it with the fear of being attacked."

A petition to counter the ban has been set up by Change Org here.


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