The French parliament assembly has voted to ban the wearing of (Hijab) headscarves at sports events, arguing that neutrality on the playing field is necessary.
The French upper legislative house voted late Tuesday (18 January) in favour of amending a proposed law that said “the wearing of the hijab, which specifies religious symbols is prohibited” for participation in events and competitions organized by sports federations.”
In their text, the senators explicitly stated that the purpose of the amendment is to ban wearing the veil at sports events. They added that headscarves could jeopardize the safety of athletes wearing them when they practice their discipline.
The amendment was proposed by the right-wing group Les Republicans and adopted by the French government with 160 votes in favour and 143 against. A commission made up of Senate, and lower house members must now compromise on the text before it can be published, meaning the amendment could still be erased.
It is not sure whether the ban will be implemented for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Olympic organizing committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senators stated in the amendment that all citizens are free to exercise their religion but insisted that all should refrain from voicing their differences.
The French football federation already bans the wearing of hijab/headscarves from women in official matches and competitions. A group of football players wearing headscarves called “Les Hijabeuses”, referring to the headscarf about the word hijab, is campaigning against that ban.
Les Hijabeuses says that all Muslim women should have the right to wear Hijab while playing their favourite sport at a competitive level if they wish. It has initiated legal action in France’s highest administrative jurisdiction, the Council of State, to overturn the Federation ban.
The law does not explicitly target or mention the word Islam. Still, French Muslims have opposed it and started campaigns on social media platforms, saying several of its measures single them out.