Hands Off The Hijab


You push through the double doors into your new school and smile in excitement. You just transferred here from overseas, it’s a chance to start over. As you walk to the office for your schedule, you’re stopped by a staff member in the middle of the hallway and are pulled to the side. “It needs to come off,” says the staff member. 

“What?” you replied.

“The headwrap. Take it off.” They point at your hijab and you’re left standing in front of the adult as if your eyes could jump out of their sockets at any moment. It wasn’t fair, and it didn’t make any sense to you either. You knew it happened in other schools, but it was never mentioned here. That was true, it hadn’t ever happened here, not until the recent ban.

France has placed a bid on banned hijabs. More specifically, banning hijabs for women under the age of 18. This new bid on the ban of hijabs was created with the claim by a predominantly cishet white male government that the hijab is oppressive. They believe that to “protect” women, the way to go about it was to disallow underaged women the right to choose to wear the hijab for themselves.

This is an absolutely absurd bill and a complete violation of the human rights that everybody is entitled to. I find it incredibly hard to believe that this is not a spiteful decision driven by Islamophobia, considering that the France government has been trying for decades to do something about hijabs. The hijab has been a victim of being the reason for quarrels between the Muslim community and the government, so for this to be solely for protecting the younger women from the “oppressive” aspect of the hijab is phony and upsetting.

According to the Library of Congress, in 2011 it was made illegal to wear face coverings, also known as niqabs, a form of concealment used by Muslim women. The fine is 150 euro (180.27 USD). The age of sexual consent in France is 15, but the age to be able to wear hijabs but still be scrutinized and harassed as an adult is 18. Ludicrous. “One mother said pupils were distressed and traumatised when a far-right politician told her to take off her headscarf in a regional parliament in eastern France, where she was helping out on a primary school outing for her son’s class,” says an article from TheGuardian.com. Incidents like this took place too often, and after the rioting from the Muslim community, the France government only said that they would not ban hijabs for accompanying mothers on school trips, but refused to condemn the actions committed against the women nor apologize for them.

In sum, what France is doing is wrong. It’s quite horrific for me, a Muslim, to see women being treated like this and their efforts in overthrowing it being futile. It’s a violation of human rights and is a poor way to disguise while still enforcing Islamophobia in France. What can we do about it? Spread awareness. Share and sign petitions, boost large platforms that speak about this topic and educate others who don’t know why or what’s happening in France. Pressure from outside countries may also influence France. Even the smallest effort can become a big one when it’s collective.

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