France’s anti-Islam laws could be about to make the lives of Muslims much more difficult. A barrage of new restrictions is making its way through the French parliament, which, if finalised into law, could see Muslims face some of the draconian restrictions on their faith in Europe.
The latest amendment to the so-called “separatism bill” would seek to ban girls under the age of 18 from wearing the hijab in public spaces.
While the prohibition doesn’t specify Muslim women, merely saying that it would prohibit “conspicuous religious” clothing that signifies a lower status for women in relation to men, many believe the real target is Muslim girls.
Another amendment to the law would see Muslim women who wear the veil not allowed to accompany their children on school trips.
Even before such amendments, the bill was controversial seen by many as an attempt to legalise rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
The additional amendments have confirmed the worst-case fears that many had that the bill was being used to attack Muslims for believing in Islam.
Critics have decried the attack on Muslim women by the French state.
One critic pointed out that young girls are allowed to consent to sexual relations at 15, but the state won’t allow girls to choose whether they want to wear a hijab.
“It isn’t a law against the hijab. It’s a law against Islam,” added the activist.
France only recently established an age of consent after a series of sex scandals that rocked the country, which allowed sexual predators to escape justice after abusing young girls.
Another critic of France’s proposed draconian laws warned that “there will be no real freedom unless we respect each other’s faith.”
Many have also pointed out French politicians’ hypocrisy arguing that Muslim women are forced to wear the hijab while at the same they legislate to give police powers to inspect and compel women to take off their clothes.
“My hijab is what I choose to wear, and you are oppressing me to not have a choice while I have a constitutional right to wear what I please”.
While others pointed to the fragility of French society, which sees women on the one hand as oppressed and, on the other hand as a threat to the integrity of the country.
Another aspect of the ban critics have pointed to is that often French law doesn’t impact women of other faiths who also cover their hair but instead focuses on “liberating” only Muslim women.
“Muslim women don’t need to be told what to wear, just like orthodox Christian or Hasidic Jewish women aren’t policed for wearing headcovers.
In 2004 France banned the hijab from being worn in schools, a move that remains controversial.
The state followed this with another ban on Muslim face veil in 2011 while talking about France’s “Christian heritage.”
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