Islamophobia divides France


The shameful scene took place last month: a mother and her son left crying a session of the regional council of Dijon after a representative of the extreme right demanded that the woman, who accompanied an excursion of the child's school, take off the hijab or I left the room. The moment, captured on video, went viral, and dragged back to France to nth controversy over the Islamic veilone daytraditional ebate of the manuals of the extreme right, but that is increasingly embraced by wider sectors of society, as evidenced on Sunday a march against organized Islamophobia in Paris that, far from uniting the French, has sown a deep division.

Dijon's case was joined a few days later by Creil, on the Parisian periphery, where a school trip to a fire station had to be suspended because officers denied entry to a mother wearing a hijab. This week, at a Clamart school, also on the outskirts of Paris, the educational representative of the region, who was visiting workshops against bullying, turned around to see that there were three veiled mothers helping with the organization.

In full climax of this eternal French discussion that puts in the same shaker Islam, radicalization and immigration, the attack on the Bayonne Mosque, perpetrated on October 28 by an extreme rightist convinced that the fire of Notre Dame would come like this, originated, in his imagination, by Muslims. Claude Sinke, 84, a former local candidate of the National Front, tried to set fire to the temple and shot two faithful, proving that hate speech is not without consequences.

The French obsession with the Islamic veil and the uncomfortable relationship that the increasingly restrictive interpretation of secularism -one of the pillars of the Republic- maintains with Islam returns to materialize today in the march organized in Paris against Islamophobia, which has generated a deep social division. The reason? The different interpretations of the same term of Islamophobia, which some define as discrimination, fear or hatred of Muslims, and in which others see an attempt to prevent any criticism of religion. The fact that they are going to participate in the demonstration of Islamist groups has meant that some of those who called for the mobilization at first have backed out.

«For years, The dignity of the Muslims and Muslims has been served on a platter to the revenge of the most racist groups that occupy the French political and media space today», States the tribune published in 'Liberation' At the beginning of the month he calls for mobilization to curb "Islamophobia", and they have signed figures on the left as the leader of the Insumisa France Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Racism and stigmatization

The discussion is not new. For decades, the different interpretations of the French law on secularism of 1905 and that of 2004 On the religious symbols in public schools, it has had as its center, and practically as its sole object, the Islamic veil. The bitter discussion, political and intellectual, has taken to the university (There is debate about whether it should be banned in public higher education), to beaches (the burkini is subject to controversy every summer), and even to shopping centers (Decathlon recently had to remove a hood to play sports because of criticism).

Their Detractors believe that the hijab is not only a pledge but a mark of submission of women and a flag of political Islam. Those who believe that it should be respected, denounce that these controversies often hide a racist and stigmatizing component of Muslim women.

This endless loop of the veil, constant in television gatherings and in parliamentary debates – the Senate, with a majority of the right, has just passed a law so that mothers who accompany school trips cannot wear hijab, a law that on the other party will be rejected by the National Assembly- accentuates the feeling of discrimination among French Muslims. A 42% of them feel they have been stigmatized on occasion because of their religion, according to a recent survey conducted for the Government and the Jean Jaures Foundation. The feeling is greater among women who wear hijab – 60% say they have suffered discrimination at least once in their life – but also among those who do not cover their heads (44% have also felt it).

The survey confirms, as he pointed out to 'Le Monde' Ismail Ferhat, of the Jean Jaures Foundation, that «Muslims accumulate gender and religious discrimination, a logic that probably has its origin, at least partially, in the incessant controversies about the veil.

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