March 16, 2014
Marking the tenth anniversary of banning hijab in public places in France, hundreds of Muslims and rights activists have protested in Paris to demand abolishing Islamophobic laws and offering more protection to the religious minority.
“All political parties contribute to the current climate of Islamophophia, but so does the media,” a El Hamri, a Muslim activist, told Press TV during the protest held on Saturday, March 15. “They all create a false reality which creates real problems.”
Saturday’s protest was organized by the Campaign of Elimination of Islamophobic Laws which urged French Muslims and rights activists to take part in the anniversary march in Paris. Campaigners aimed to overturn Islamophobic status in France by highlighting Muslim rights to freedom of expression and religious practices.
Citing anti-Islam campaigns led by difference factions of French politicians, Muslim activists expressed concerns that with a broad political backing of anti-Islam laws, it’s not easy to counter what they dubbed as ‘discriminatory laws’. These political groups include the far-right National front, the conservative UMP and even the ruling Socialists.
Lamenting the anti-Muslims polices in France, El Hamri asked: “What will be the next Islamophobic law; the law which bans Muslims from living here? I’m exaggerating… but it will be another law which tries to make Muslims even more invisible! And we want to be visible. Not to create differences, because we have to define our dignity and identity.’’
France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe. French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices. In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example. France also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public in 2011.
Last December, a French government report has proposed ending the ban on Muslim headscarves, teaching Arabic and emphasizing the ‘Arab-Oriental’ dimension of French identity. The report stressed that France, with Europe’s largest Muslim population, should recognize the “Arab-oriental dimension” of its identity. Yet, in the same month the French minister of education has maintained the 2004 ban on hijab for Muslim volunteers in school trips, ignoring a legal advice from France’s Council of State.