Al Jazeera, April 9, 2021
A bid by the French Senate to ban girls under 18 from wearing the hijab in public has drawn condemnation, with the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab circulating widely on social media.
The French Senate’s move comes as part of Paris’s push to introduce a so-called “anti-separatism” bill which it says aims to bolster the country’s secular system, but critics have denounced, arguing it singles out the minority Muslim population.
While debating the proposed legislation on March 30, senators approved an amendment to the bill calling for the “prohibition in the public space of any conspicuous religious sign by minors and of any dress or clothing which would signify inferiority of women over men”.
But a backlash to the amendment was swift, with some suggesting the proposed rule amounted to a “law against Islam”.
“Age to consent to sex in France: 15 Age to consent to hijab: 18 Let that sink in. It isn’t a law against the hijab. It’s a law against Islam. #Handsoffmyhijab #FranceHijabBan,” one Twitter user wrote.
On Instagram, Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad shared a post suggesting the Senate’s amendment indicated “Islamophobia is deepening in France”.
“This is what happens when you normalize anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim hate speech, bias, discrimination, and hate crimes – Islamophobia written into law,” the post said.
The National Assembly, France’s lower chamber which is dominated by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La République En Marche (LREM) party, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the bill on February 16 before it was passed up to the conservative-led Senate.