The bill is however opposed by the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron and its allies who have a majority in the National Assembly, which has the final vote.
Representative image. ANI
As a major dispute over the hijab has escalated in India, the lower house of the French parliament is set to pass a bill banning the wearing of the hijab in sports competitions.
The bill was sent to France’s National Assembly after the Senate refused to vote on the legislation on Wednesday.
The bill, devoted to the “democratization of sport”, includes a clause, attached as an amendment by the upper house with a conservative majority, which prohibits the wearing of “ostentatious religious symbols” in events and competitions organized by sports federations.
According to a Reuters report, the bill is opposed by the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron and its allies who have a majority in the National Assembly, which has the final vote.
What is the law and where is France in terms of religious identities, let’s look at:
The amendment banning the hijab
The amendment to the bill is proposed by the right-wing group Les Républicains and opposed by the French government.
Macron’s centrist government was quick to denounce the amendment. With the majority the party and its allies hold in the lower house, it is likely the amendment would be dropped from the broader bill.
With the 2024 Summer Olympics already in sight, critics have argued how the legislation will affect games where participants will include conservative Muslim countries.
According to Reuters, Right-wing senator Stéphane Piednoir said the Olympic Charter provided for political and religious neutrality.
“We cannot compromise secularism and France cannot undermine the Olympic movement,” Piednoir told the upper house.
The charter of the Olympics states that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted at Olympic venues, locations or other areas”.
The French football federation already has a ban in place that forbids the wearing of “ostentatious religious symbols”, even though FIFA lifted its own hijab ban in 2014.
The history of France with the hijab and the burqa
This is not the first time that French legislation has made global news.
In 2004, the hijab was part of the array of religious symbols banned from wearing in French public schools. The “headscarf law” also prohibited the wearing of Jewish yarmulkes and large Christian crosses at school.
In 2010, the country banned full-face veils like niqabs and burqas in public spaces, becoming the first European country to enforce a nationwide ban.
According to Indian Express, women who do not respect the law on the veil are liable to fines of up to 150 euros. Men who force their wives to wear a burqa could face a one-year prison sentence and a 30,000 euro fine.
If a minor is forced to wear the burqa, the fine is increased to 60,000 euros and the prison sentence to two years. This law also applies to tourists; in 2014, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban.
The latest vote comes a year after the lower house of the French parliament approved an ‘anti-separatism’ bill aimed at strengthening surveillance of mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to protect France from ‘radical Islamists’. ” and to promote “respect for French values”.
According to AlJazeera, critics have argued that the bill could harm the rights of France’s Muslim community of 5.7 million people.
With contributions from agencies