France’s overall relationship with the Islamic veil is known to be flawed. The country’s successive governments, on both the right or left-hand side of the political spectrum, might not agree on much, but they seem to have found consensus when it comes to this simple piece of cloth: they simply don’t want to see it at all.
By 2004, the hijab was banned it from public schools. Niqabs were banned from being worn on streets in 2011, and it was made illegal for minors to wear last year. And only a couple of months prior to the fiery presidential elections that are set to take place this upcoming April, lawmakers from the Senate have now voted in favor of prohibiting headscarves in sporting competitions.
This new bill was initially suggested by the right-wing “Les Républicains” party and was approved by 160 votes in favor and 143 against. Although there is no clear mention of the veil in the legal jurisdictions of the newly adopted texts, the current atmosphere surrounding the country at this time makes it explicitly clear as to which segment of society is exactly targeted by this harnessing law.
Further excluding women from the public sphere, this amendment highlights France’s overall failure to look at its Muslim citizens as regular law-abiding citizens. The country that likes to see itself as the “Land of Freedom” is forcibly removing more and more liberties away from a segment of society that is by now trying to survive rather than simply live.
Unable to lead a normal life without having to be constrained, women are struggling to find a safe space in which they are able to roam without encountering any sorts of difficulties as work, leisures and all kinds of other amenities are being taken away from them and made difficult to exist in. And unfortunately, the sporting world is just the latest victim.
To this day, no confirmation as to whether this law will be enforced in the next Olympic games which are set to take place in Paris in 2024 but one thing is for sure: things are not changing for the better in France.