A proposed French law to ban the hijab across all sports has been criticised for being ‘cruel’ and ‘exclusionary’.
Last week, the French Senate voted in favour of banning the wearing of hijabs in sports competitions.
The proposed law stipulates that the wearing “of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited” to take part in events and competitions, whether recreational activity or elite participation.
It could be ratified as early as January 31st by a vote in the second chamber.
The law was proposed by the right-wing group Les Republicains and adopted with 160 votes in favour and 143 against. President Emmanuel Macron and the French Government oppose the ban.
The vote has been met with significant backlash, with people around the world outraged at the potential exclusion of Muslim women from sport.
Muslim Women in Sport, a network which aims to amplify the voice of Muslim women in sport, posted: “On 18th Jan, the French Senate voted to forbid all religious headscarves for Muslim women in all sports and competitions.
“This law underlines the cruelty and exclusion Muslim women face every day in French society.”
The organisation called on social media users to join their campaign Let Us Play, encouraging followers to record a short clip describing why allowing hijab in sport is important.
CBC Sports senior contributor Shireen Ahmed wrote on Twitter: “This new law in France is a disaster. It targets Muslim women’s bodies”.
In response, a social media user commented: “Sport should be free of overt racism and misogyny. It is honestly very upsetting to see women and girls put in a situation of having to choose between their faith and their passion towards sports.”
Fadumo Olow, social media editor at The Telegraph, pointed out that France would be hosting the 2024 Olympic Games.
“I’d love to know what this means for athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” she wrote. “Can’t have one rule for some and another rule for others.”
It is the not first time Muslim women have been ostracised from sport due to a hijab ban.
FIFA banned the hijab back in 2007, citing health and safety reasons. This was despite the lack of empirical data suggesting the hijab could strangle a player or harm an opponent.
The ban ended in 2014, with Iran currently competing at the Women’s Asian Cup wearing hijabs.
The French Football Federation still prohibits female players from wearing the hijab in official matches, however.