Switzerland’s citizens and government voted for a ban on the burqa and niqab weeks ago. Following suite, the French senate has voted against items of clothing deemed to be “religious,” including the hijab, to be worn by women under the age of 18 in public.
The French senate voted for 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,” on March 30th 2021. Moreover, Muslim women with children, who do wear the hijab, will not be permitted to accompany their child on any school outings, and modest swimwear, such as burkinis, will also be banned at public pools. The strict laws, which are a part of the “Separatism Bill,” have not yet been passed as they will need to be confirmed by the National Assembly to come into effect.
In the past, France has been vocal in aiming to maintain secular ideals, and desires to keep the state and religion separate – and have also argued that Muslim niqabs, or Sikh turbans, are symbols that go against the “European principles of enlightenment and individualism.”
The niqab has been banned in French public schools since 2004, and if the new law to ban hijabs passes, it would mean that the legal age to wear one is the same as the legal age to purchase alcohol.
In response to the French current affairs, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad tweeted, “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.”
French president, Emmanuel Macron has previously suggested that the hijab may not fall in line with public guidelines and restrictions, he does not wish to ban them in public. The pending laws would be heavily impacting the Muslim women who live in France as well as those who wish to take a vacation to the country.