‘Dangerous’ pro-hijab campaign withdrawn after outcry in France
On the left, Socialist Senator Laurence Rossignol, former Minister of Women’s Rights, declared that if it was the right of every woman to wear the hijab, “to say that freedom is in the hijab is to promote it”.
Meanwhile, former socialist prime minister Manuel Valls called the poster campaign “shocking, mind-boggling and dangerous”.
The Macron government then intervened, saying it had urged the Council of Europe to withdraw the campaign. France is one of the 47 member states of the Council which acts as guardian of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“I was deeply shocked,” French Minister of Youth Sarah El Hairy told LCI TV.
“It is the opposite of the values that France defends, it is to promote the wearing of the hijab.”
She confirmed that Paris had issued an official protest through diplomatic channels.
“This must be condemned and because of it France has clearly expressed its extremely strong disapproval and the campaign has therefore been withdrawn from today,” she said on Tuesday evening.
France continues to engage in a heated debate on the defense of “secularism”, its mixture of local secularism considered sacrosanct since a 1905 law separating Church and State.
France banned the wearing of the burqa and all other full face veils in 2010, but this does not include scarves that do not completely cover the face. They are prohibited in schools and public institutions.
While many French Muslims view attempts to restrict headscarves as a blatant assault on their civil liberties, the issue remains explosive. The French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, for example, supports the idea of prohibiting mothers who carry them from accompanying children on school trips.
The European Commission on Wednesday sought to distance itself from the controversy, saying the Council of Europe had “taken the lead” in the campaign and that it had not “validated” the disputed slogans.
Although she did not confirm that the campaign had been withdrawn due to the scale of the outcry, a Council of Europe spokesperson said: “We have removed these tweet messages while we reflect on a better presentation of this project. “
“The tweets reflected statements made by individual participants in one of the project workshops, and do not represent the views of the Council of Europe or its Secretary General,” she added, Marija Pejcinovic Buric.