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Hijab is a sign of “submission”, says right-wing French Senator

Recently, the French Senate introduced an amendment for the Anti-Separatist Bill and voted on whether a ban on the hijab should be imposed on Muslim women and girls under the age of 18

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Jackintosh, CC BY-SA , via Wikimedia Commons

The very basis of the feminist movement is to not discriminate between various groups of women; instead, it favours all women who deserve the freedom to live their life as they prefer. Essentially, having the freedom to live your life as you desire is a basic human right and not even gender specific. But when it comes to how Muslims, specifically Muslim women, practice Islam, this very freedom is scrutinised and questioned. 

Recently, the French Senate introduced an amendment for the Anti-Separatist Bill and voted on whether a ban on the hijab should be imposed on Muslim women and girls under the age of 18. Another part of the amendment asked whether mothers who wore a hijab should be banned from attending school trips of their children. The senators, predominantly with right-wing affiliations, voted overwhelmingly in the favour of both amendments. The amendment was initially proposed in the National Assembly, which is the elected chamber, but it was not considered for a vote as it opposed the values stated in the French constitution. It is also important to clarify here that these amendments have not become law and the National Assembly must approve them before they are implemented. Nevertheless, the prospect of this becoming law has certainly worried Muslim women in France, because it may hinder their confidence in integrating within French society, especially if their freedom to wear the hijab is stripped away from them. 

Commenting on the possibility of the ban becoming law, Rimla, who is a member of the Muslim Community in France said: 

“This law is completely in contradiction with the slogan of the French Republic: ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. I can’t see the reason behind the interference of the government in one’s personal affair. That’s only to diverge our attention from the current issues related to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Thanks to religions, we are able to build our morals and can only bring positive changes in society. Such a ban on religious signs can harm our future generations.”

One Muslim student who is currently studying for her A-levels also shared her thoughts:

“I have been wearing a headscarf for a long time now, and I realised it early enough about how the majority of people speak about women who wear a headscarf, without true knowledge of the issues, whether Muslims or not. We are often considered immature about the choices that we make. The fact that we will no longer be able to wear a headscarf in public places, for me is a violation of my human rights. Wearing the headscarf was my choice and my parents have always respected that.”

This is not the first time the French state has tried to marginalise Muslim women for their choice to practice their religion. In previous years, the government banned the burqa – the Islamic face veil and full body swimsuits with the explanation that they are at odds with French secular values and pose a security threat. Just weeks ago, Switzerland and Sri Lanka banned the burqa citing similar reasons to justify their decisions. 

Amnesty International’s Europe researcher Marco Perolini commented on the recent vote stating: “Time and again we have seen the French authorities use the vague and ill-defined concept of ‘radicalization’ or ‘radical Islam’ to justify the imposition of measures without valid grounds… which risks leading to discrimination in its application against Muslims and other minority groups.”

The West has long claimed that they represent the haven where basic human rights are respected and tolerated. Freedom to practice one’s religion is part of these rights. Accordingly, Muslim women choosing to follow religious commandments, by wearing the hijab or the burqa, exercise their right of freedom to practice their religion. Yet, what we find is that the western countries continue to stress that Muslim women are oppressed and by introducing such laws, they are apparently ‘freeing’ them. According to right-wing French Senator, Bruno Retailleau, “Hijab is a banner of separatism and a marker of women’s submission.” 

This is striking because, on one hand, France criticises Islam for stating a dress code for women when at the same time, it implements these policies which also do the exact same. Therefore, France is contradictory when it criticises Islam for being oppressive because it is guilty of enforcing what women should and in this case should not wear. Ultimately, when was controlling and restricting what women can and cannot choose to wear a sign of freedom?

Another female member of the Muslim Community expressed her disappointment at the vote and shared that her headscarf has never been an obstacle to her excelling in education – a notion that is commonly used as a counter argument to the use of hijab and the veil. She said: 

“I am completely shocked by the amendments that are adopted by the Senate concerning the headscarf. I was quite capable of making the decision of wearing a headscarf at an early age and it was the most beautiful decision of my life. The headscarf has never stopped me from receiving an education. I am studying in the first year of university and will be pursuing the field of teaching and my headscarf has never created an issue. I think that this law doesn’t give us importance despite the fact that we are completely eligible to make decisions concerning the issues that are related directly to us.”

In France, the Covid-19 vaccination programme has been stumbling and with a steep rise in infection rates, President Macron announced a third nationwide lockdown. Amidst the global pandemic which continues to devastate the world in countless ways, it is unfortunate to see governments initiating debates and introducing policies that isolate and target the minorities of their countries. It might be a very cunning tactic by diverting the general public’s attention from the issues that really matter, but it has an unprecedented impact on the people such policies impact. In this case, of course, it is Muslim women. 

Instead of following the path which divides and socially excludes minorities, it is time to discuss real issues that require resolving. The question that we need to ask is not what women should or should not be allowed to wear. What we need to ask is how to avert this global health crisis, how to ensure that the rights and freedoms of every individual are preserved and guaranteed, and most importantly, how can the world work towards establishing global peace and justice once the pandemic subsides. In essence, there is a lot that governments need to do for their countries and for the world and none of it is dependent on a Muslim woman choosing to wear the hijab or burqa. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Historian of Modern World History, with special interest in history of modern Europe and Britain. I also have a keen interest in politics, systems of rule, international relations and current affairs.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sultana Bhatti

    5 April 2021 at 10:57 am

    I wonder why we never hear from professional Muslim women in France in positions of influence? It always seems to be the old white senators who get a say

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Politics

France closer to hijab ban in sports

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France takes another step towards Islamophobia by trying to ban hijabs in sports competitions. The French senate has already voted in favor of this on late Tuesday but it is still unclear if this ban will be implemented in the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

The senate decided that the hijab affects the neutrality of the field play. The law that they are trying to pass states that wearing anything “of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited” in the case of events and competitions organised by sports federations. In fact, the Senate clearly stated “the wearing of the veil in sport competitions” is prohibited because it can put the safety of athletes wearing it at risk. This is directly at odds with the French amendment that states that all citizens are free to practice their religion. The law says “no one may be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious ones, as long as the manifestation of such opinions does not interfere with the established Law and Order. The free communication of ideas and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. Any citizen may therefore speak, write and publish freely, except what is tantamount to the abuse of this liberty in the cases determined by Law.” 

The amendment proposed had 160 votes in favor while 143 against it. However, the amendment is not finalised and they will be meeting again to find a compromise on text, which means it can be erased. This isn’t the first law aimed to constrict Muslims. Another law was passed a year ago by President Emmanuel Macron which strengthened government oversight of mosques in order to counter the influence of the Islamist movement. In fact, the French soccer federation already bans women from wearing hijab in official matches and competitions organised by them. To tackle this blatant Islamophobia, a football group by the name of Les Hijabeuses that comprises Muslim women that wear hijab have been actively campaigning against the ban. 

This is another form of oppression dressed like a favour. The definition of oppression is “a situation in which people are governed in an unfair and cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom,” so banning women from wearing hijab directly influences the freedom of expression that they can have. Women have been wearing headscarves for centuries, so they know how to carry themselves with it without the need of the senate trying to save them. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Ukraine responds to Biden’s remarks

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted in response to the US President’s remarks that was put forth during a press conference on Wednesday that has created a huge uproar and has sparked a controversy. President Joe Biden said he expected Vladimir Putin to launch some kind of action against Ukraine and also mentioned in the press conference that the United States and its allies might disagree over the response if Moscow stopped short of a major invasion.

“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do, et cetera,” the president said, adding that an invasion would be a “disaster” for Russia. The controversy had been stemmed from one remark the President made that suggested a lesser response in the event of a “minor invasion”.

However the President of Ukraine had tweeted over Biden’s choice of words that has sparked a row among the powers. “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power” the President of Ukraine had tweeted in both English and Ukraine.

The office of President Joe Biden and other officials of the United States of America had responded to the backlash and have taken matters into their hands in trying to dissipate the controversial situation. Biden’s administration and the allies quickly jumped into damage control mode and stressed their points on keeping a united front.

“No matter which path Russia chooses, it will find the United States, Germany, and our allies, united,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at a press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during his visit to Berlin to meet ministers from Britain, France and Germany

In the same press conference Baerbock addressed the situation by saying, “We urgently demand that Russia takes steps towards deescalation. Any further aggressive behaviour or aggression would result in serious consequences,”

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said President Biden’s “minor incursion” comment was not a green light to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said: “Be in no doubt that if Russia were to make any kind of incursion into Ukraine, or on any scale, whatever, I think that that would be a disaster, not just for Ukraine, but for Russia.”

However Moscow was seen saying that the threats of sanctions given out by the US were not calming the situation.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Attempted coup d’etat overthrown by CSTO

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The protest against the increase in fuel prices in Kazakhstan that turned into a violent rising is beginning to settle down as Russia has started to withdraw its forces. Having lost more than 40 lives amid the unrest and detaining 10,000 people, The country’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, announced in parliament on Tuesday, 11th of January 2022, that the acting Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov has stepped up as the new Prime Minister for the country. 

President Tokayev, speaking on the situation that developed in the country in last weeks, declared that “It was an attempted coup d’etat” led by a group of “militants” and “terrorists”. However, no supporting evidence for these claims has been provided yet by the officials. 

On Tuesday, President Tokayev also officially declared the withdrawal of Russian forces claiming that “The main mission of the CSTO peacekeeping forces has been successfully completed,”. The CSTO, Collective Security Treaty Organization, is considered to be a NATO equivalent and was called in by Kazakhstan amid the violent protests. About 2500 troops were sent to aid the country’s security forces. The decision of calling the CSTO by Tokayev had taken the world by surprise for this could not only alter the socio-political dynamic of the region but of the whole world.

One of the important factors that fuelled the protest was the people’s distrust and disregard for the influence of the former President of the country Nursultan Nazarbayev. Commenting on the influence of wealthy families on the country, President Tokayev in his statement said that: “a group of very profitable companies emerged in the country as well as a group of people wealthy even by international standards,”. He added, “I think it is time they pay their dues to the people of Kazakhstan and help them on a systemic and regular basis.”

The situation in Kazakhstan has emerged as a cause of concern for the powers of the region including China and Russia. The foreign ministers of both countries discussed the matter over telephone call where they both agreed that the situation in the country “ is a riot carefully choreographed by external forces” They also promised, “to provide support to the best of its capacity to help Kazakhstan tide over the difficulties.”

The situation in Kazakhstan and the role of Russia with its peacekeeping CSTO would be a subject of discussion in various global analyses to determine if this could aid Russia’s power status not only in the region but the whole world.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Judge declares sexual assault lawsuit to continue in case of Prince Andrew

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The sexual assault lawsuit against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre will not be dismissed, as declared by the New York Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday 12th January 2022. This declaration came after the royal family member tried to get the case thrown out. 

Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts filed a case against Prince Andrew by stating that he sexually assaulted her in 2001 when she was a teenager. Prince Andrew, however, has denied the abuse and dismissed the lawsuit. After hearing the arguments from the lawyers representing the royal member, Judge Kaplan wrote in the ruling “Ms. Giuffre’s complaint is neither ‘unintelligible’ nor ‘vague’ nor ‘ambiguous,'” adding “it alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations. It identifies to whom it attributes that sexual abuse.” The lawyers representing the Royalty dismissed Giuffre’s claims because she signed a $500,000 settlement agreement in 2009. The judge explained more in the document “moreover, the defendant’s assertion that he cannot reasonably prepare a response to plaintiff’s allegations plainly contradicts the content of his moving papers, in which he denies Ms. Giuffre’s allegations in no uncertain terms.” The document was 46 pages long and in short, the attempt to dismiss the case was “denied in all respects” . After the ruling, Ms. Guiffre’s lawyer, David Boise stated, “it is only one step in the process, it does not resolve the case but it rejects certain legal defenses Prince Andrew was putting up to avoid the trial.” 

According to Ms. Giuffre, she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein another convicted sex offender, when she was 17. She is accusing Prince Andrew of “sexual assault and battery” in Epstein’s private island located in the US Virgin Islands. Her lawyer says that she “wants to achieve justice,” by bringing this case to light. The trial is set to take place later this year if it is not settled before that. The Prince’s reputation has already been tarnished due to his friendship with the late Epstein and his former partner who was also convicted in December for aiding in his offenses. This has led to the Prince stepping away from royal duties since 2019. Buckingham Palace denied making any comments after the recent changes in the case, saying “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.” 

The royal status of the Prince should not shield him from being properly charged. Therefore, hopefully, the judge’s effort to not let the lawsuit go under is not wasted in the trial as well. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Kazakhstan turmoil reaches new heights as violent protests continue across the country

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Brokev03, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Protests in Kazakhstan that started due to increased fuel prices had much deeper underlying issues that came to the surface after a few days of protest. Due to the intensity, the government declared a state of emergency following the upheaval on Wednesday.

This was the worst protest in Kazakhstan since this oil-rich country received independence 30 years ago. The main reason for this was the sudden increase in the prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which was the main fuel source used by the people. Soon the protests escalated and the demonstrators torched government buildings, looted businesses and vehicles, and also toppled statues while the officials used violent means to control them. To control the protests that started on 2nd January, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dropped the fuel prices again but the protests continued. Mainly because what started as a fight for simple cause soon revealed greater discontent that people had with the country. Another main reason for the protest was the control the former President, Nursultan Nazarbayev who led the country for three decades, had on the government and its decisions. The underlying issues for the protest were definitely much deeper like the increasing social inequalities as the rich keep their wealth safe and the poor have to suffer.   

To help restore the peace, troops from countries like Russia were sent in while the country was left in lockdown from Wednesday with strict curfews and no internet. According to the Interior Ministry on Monday, almost 8,000 people have been detained throughout the country as protesting is still illegal there. Moreover, on Sunday evening a statement was posted by officials on Telegram social media app stating that 164 people had died in the recent unrest. However, this statement was soon retracted as it was due to a “technical error” and until now only 44 deaths have been confirmed. The security forces apparently had to kill the rioters to restore peace in the country as President Tokayev gave them the order to “fire without warning”.

Seeing these protests, the Ukrainians also took to the street to not only defend their independence but to also fight for the rights of Kazakhstan. The protest included drones that flew with the flags of both countries. One of the drone operators, Vitaly Shevchuk explained his stance “we condemn violence in any form, but we also oppose foreign military intervention in Kazakhstan under the guise of a peacekeeping operation, which is more like punitive action and risks becoming an occupation.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Russia sends troops to Kazakhstan

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As the violence in Kazakhstan has increased over the course of two days, the prime minister of the country has appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) alliance for help. Paying heed to that, Russia has sent its paratroopers to Kazakhstan as a means to end the violent riots that had been plaguing the country. The general secretary of the ex-Soviet alliance – the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, told RIA news agency that the overall peacekeeping force sent would be around 2,500 personnel and would be strengthened if necessary. RIA also quoted him as saying that it was expected to be a short mission of “a few days or weeks”.

The anti-government uprising is due to the government’s new rule to lift the price cap of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which sent prices soaring to more than double their original value. People started to protest the sharp rise in fuel prices over the weekend which has taken international observers and also Kazakhstan’s authorities by surprise. But the protests also expressed the people’s discontent with their country’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, since 2019, and his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev who personally chose Tokayev as his successor.

The city of Almaty has been the worst affected due to the riots as violent protestors set fire to many of the country’s infrastructures  all around the city. The local news agencies quoted that a spokesperson from the police stated that dozens of people were killed during attacks on government buildings. However Almaty city authorities claimed on Thursday that 353 police personnel and security forces personnel had been injured and 12 were killed.

Reuters witnesses said that on Thursday morning, shots were fired as troops entered Almaty’s main square. Several armoured personnel carriers and dozens of troops moving on foot also arrived on Thursday morning, firing shots as they approached the crowd. Kazakhstan’s state television reported on Thursday that the National Bank of Kazakhstan had suspended all financial institutions. It was said that the internet in the country is mostly down as well as mobile phone reception which is said to have affected cryptocurrency mining as Kazakhstan is one of the biggest contributors to the mining of cryptocurrency.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted and called for a “peaceful, rights-respecting resolution” and mentioned that he supports “constitutional institutions and media freedom”. The US has also said that it will be watching for human rights violations.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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