Mon. May 27th, 2024

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A U.N. physique has criticized France’s ban on its Olympic athletes sporting headscarves on the 2024 Paris Video games, amplifying the controversy over spiritual expression in a rustic with an extended historical past of proscribing Islamic gown within the title of secularism.

When requested concerning the determination throughout a information convention Tuesday in Geneva, a spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights workplace mentioned, “Nobody ought to impose on a girl what she must put on or not put on.”

“Discriminatory practices towards a gaggle can have dangerous penalties,” Marta Hurtado mentioned, noting that below worldwide human rights regulation, “restrictions of expressions of religions or beliefs” are “solely acceptable below actually particular circumstances,” corresponding to public well being or security.

French Sports activities Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra informed a information program Sunday that these competing for France within the Olympics subsequent 12 months wouldn’t be permitted to put on hijabs on the occasion.

The federal government’s “regime of strict secularism” is “strictly utilized to the sphere of sport,” Oudéa-Castéra mentioned, in line with French media.

The Olympic restriction echoes the French soccer federation’s ban on hijabs, which the French Council of State upheld in June.

Critics have condemned these insurance policies as discriminatory and say they foment Islamophobia, whereas the federal government has defended them as crucial to sustaining nationwide unity and curbing perceived threats of non secular affect on society. When the Summer time Olympics return to France for the primary time in a century in July, they may supply a global stage for the nation to undertaking its identification to the world, an identification that the federal government is more and more defining by the ideas of secularism.

France to ban full-length Muslim attire in colleges, renewing fierce debate

France has repeatedly targeted on Islamic gown in its efforts to restrict the presence of faith in public life. Such efforts are tied to the French thought of “laïcité” — translated as “secularism” — which is enshrined within the structure.

Hijabs have been prohibited in state-run colleges since 2004, when a regulation banned “ostentatious” spiritual symbols, which additionally applies to objects corresponding to crosses and turbans. In 2010, France turned the primary European nation to ban full face coverings, together with niqabs, in public areas. Final month, it banned abayas, the lengthy robes worn by some Muslim ladies, in public colleges.

These insurance policies are significantly influential in France, which has the best variety of Muslims of any nation in Europe, making up about 10 p.c of its inhabitants, in line with authorities knowledge.

John Bowen, an anthropology professor at Washington College in Saint Louis and the creator of “Why the French Don’t Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public House,” traces the spirit behind these bans to a minimum of 1789, when he mentioned Catholics have been seen as a political menace to the French state. The opposition to shows of faith “is a couple of seen supply of ideological challenges to the unity of the Republic,” he mentioned in an e-mail.

“Public area meant, and means, rival claims to nationwide unity, not simply being open air,” he added. The ban on the Olympics “is about representing France publicly.”

The French structure protects freedom of faith, however it’s completely different from U.S. secularism, which “focuses on particular person freedom of faith whereas French laïcité focuses on collective freedom from spiritual establishments,” in line with a 2021 report in Overseas Coverage.

In response to a French invoice that may have banned hijabs in any respect sporting occasions however did not go final 12 months, Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencer and the primary Muslim American lady to put on a hijab whereas competing on the Olympics, wrote on Instagram that “each lady ought to have the selection to put on what she needs and the chance to play sports activities, no matter her religion.”

“Difficult us on hijab solely strengthens our resolve to put on it,” she mentioned.

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