Right-Wing Politician Demands Woman Remove Hijab

A far-right politician demanded a woman remove her hijab in a public meeting. Now, a fresh row over secularism has begun in France.

French law does not prohibit wearing a hijab in public spaces —including in council chambers

A woman comforting her crying son went viral — after she was ordered to remove her hijab. She was accompanying her son and other children on a school trip to a French local council —when far-right politician Julian Odoul asked the head of the council that she take off her hijab. Images of the mother comforting her crying son were met with outrage as the video – posted by Odoul himself – went viral on Twitter. The mother later spoke about the incident.

The Regional Council of Burgundy-Franche-Comté in Dijon was having a public plenary session when Julien Odoul, a far-right politician representing the National Rally party, said: "In the name of our republican and secular principles, I asked (President of the regional council) Marie-Guite Dufay to have the Islamic veil removed from a school counsellor present in the Chamber. We are in a public building; we are in a democratic indication. She can wear it at her home, in the street, but not here, not today. So please, in the name of our Republic principles, also in the name of women all over the world who fight to remove themselves from Islamic dictatorship, I ask you to ask this person to remove her veil."

The recently published European Islamophobia Report found that France in 2018 had seen a 52 percent increase in Islamophobia. The report noted that anti-Muslim sentiment is deeply rooted in contemporary French society, noting: “Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism take their modern roots in the French colonization of Muslim lands from the conquest of Algiers in 1830.” Muslim women, in particular, are at risk of being discriminated against and facing assault. While the wearing of conspicuous religions symbols has been banned from public schools and government offices in 2004, French law does not prohibit wearing a hijab in public spaces —including in council chambers.

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