Footballers attack the hijab ban in France with the collective ‘Les Hijabeuses’
Hijab-wearing footballers in France have launched a collective called “Les Hijabeuses” to pressure the French Football Federation (FFF) to change its rules on headgear. According to Al Jazeera, the discussion about what Muslim women in France can and cannot do emerged in the country after the government led by Emmanuel Macron passed the controversial “anti-separatism bill” which is due to become law on August 24.
French lawmakers tried to use the bill to formally ban the wearing of the headscarf in all sporting competitions, but it was reportedly ruled unconstitutional by lawmakers on June 9. The bill was proposed by the Macron government last year to fight “Islamist extremism” and strengthen “secularism” (secularism). However, the bill drew serious backlash for being inclined towards far-right politics ahead of the 2022 national elections and further marginalizing Islam, even though there are at least six million Muslims in France.
Paris will also take over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic relay for the 2024 Summer Olympics and France is the only country in Europe to exclude women wearing the hijab from most national sporting competitions. However, in particular, the law states that in international competitions, including the Olympics, foreign players wearing headgear are allowed to play. This again raised questions about the French government as it specifically targets its nationals who wear the hijab.
“Les Hijabeuses” led by footballers wearing the hijab
The movement, “Les Hijabeuses”, is led by Karthoum Dembelé and other hijab-wearing footballers around Paris who face challenges competing in France. In 2020, a group of researchers and community leaders from the Citizen Alliance founded the collective. Citizen’s Alliance is also campaigning against several social injustices in the country, according to the report.
More than a year later, the Les Hijabeuses collective has nearly 150 members and nearly 5,000 followers on Instagram and even organized a demonstration at the FFF headquarters on July 23. The group would have written several letters to the president of the FF Noël Le Graët with the aim of putting an end to the exclusion of Muslim women. However, they have yet to receive a response.
“We are all fighting for more inclusive football, which includes all women,” said Dembelé Al Jazeera. “We try to make people understand that we are female athletes. It is not because we wear the hijab that we should be excluded from the field … For the FFF, now, it’s time to wake up … I think they look more at our faces than our talent .