PARIS, FRANCE – French Senate is voting to ban Muslim women from playing sports in Hijab.
Those who voted for the decision said it was done in the name of so-called religious neutrality to target Muslim women.
Maria De Cartena, a human rights advocate in France, says the measure aims to suppress all forms of Muslim subjectivity, including faith and worship, culture, and political expression.
As a rare occurrence, Emmanuel Macron’s government opposed the controversial decision, which has presided over some of the most restrictive restrictions on Muslims in recent years.
De Cartena said that the decision was institutionalized because it passed with 160 to 143 votes in the upper house on Tuesday.
De Cartena has also worked with the Coordination Against the Separatism Law group. The French government claims to fight “Islamist extremism”, but critics say he imposes restrictions on religious freedom and unfairly targets Muslims.
Following a string of restrictions in recent years, the French Senate is taking action again to restrict Muslim immigration. De Cartena claims to bypass the latest decision, and the Senate is “proving that Islamophobia is permanent and omnipresent in politics, law, and media.”
According to a study earlier this month, France’s media give far-right voices a lot of airtime and amplify their views.
The French parliament passed a law banning Muslim women from wearing the Hijab while attending their children’s school trips, a symbol it sees as a threat to everything the Republic stands for.
Macron backed the move at the time, which contributed to the government’s narrative that the fight against “Muslim separatism” was an everyday struggle, according to De Cartena.
Macron’s laser-like focus on the country’s Muslim minority of 5.4 million, even as France deals with a massive flu pandemic, has unintentionally exacerbated insecurities about France’s place in the world and sense of identity.
Ahead of the presidential election, which is only months away, parties on both the left and right of the political spectrum are jockeying to appear tough on Muslim practices.
Macron’s Anti-Separatism Law was amended by the right-wing Les Republicains party to mention “the wearing of the veil explicitly.”
De Cartena fears the latest move that forbids women from participating in sports until they abide by state dictates will only exacerbate the “segregation of Muslims from the rest of society.”
De Cartena explained that the goal here is to forbid more and more Islamic symbols.
In a broader sense, says De Cartena, “Islamophobia is not a party issue in France; it is a system issue! Islamophobia is found at all levels of society: at the government level, the police level, and even the judiciary level.”