Recently, the government of France voted to ban the wearing of a hijab for anyone under eighteen years old as well as forbids mothers who wear hijabs from wearing theirs if they are accompanying a student on a school trip. Furthermore, public pools are allowed to refuse women who wear burkinis. The French government claims that this was done in an attempt to liberate Muslim women, however what they fail to understand is that not only does this do the exact opposite, but it is blatant islamophobia.
Already there is a law in place that has been in place since 2004 that prohibits all clothing that displays religious symbols to be worn in schools or public places. This law specifically targets Muslim women, since there was an incident back in 2019, where French officials defended a nun, whose religious wear would have violated secularism laws.
First of all, while separation of church and state or a religion and state are super important in creating a fair and equal society, primarily because not all people in said country follow the same religion, making laws that prevent people from wearing religious symbols or clothing is not secularism. How could the clothing of one portion of the population affect government procedures or the way in which the country functions? A lot of countries like to pride themselves on multiculturalism yet refuse to acknowledge any religion that is not Christianity.
Muslim women should be able to have the choice to wear a hijab, it should not be up to a government who doesn’t even follow this religion to impose said restrictions. Not to mention that religion is private to an individual and that someone wearing a hijab will not influence you in any way. The same way that we don’t question golden crosses across people’s neck – because it’s a personal choice to wear and is private to individuals – the same should be done with women who wear hijabs.
It’s almost ironic for the French government to be making statements about how this is meant to liberate the women when in reality this is the exact opposite. How is it, that the age of consent to have sex in France is fifteen years old, yet you have to be an adult in the eyes of the law to be able to choose to wear a headscarf. This is all in an attempt to control Muslim women and they promote this warped ideal of feminism in order to hide the islamophobia.
This is a reoccurring event that is seen all over the world and even in our own province with bill 21. This bill, according to the Quebec government was also created in the name of secularism, yet heavily attacks Muslim women. The same way that no one should tell a woman what to wear, the same goes for her choice to hear a hijab or not. Whether you are religious or not, it is a personal decision, and no one owes you an explanation as to why they wear it.
By Isabella Del Grosso