Muslim Girls Barred From Education
Thousands of Muslims girls are being denied education. They are being expelled from school if they follow their religion and wear hijab. Shamefully it has been teachers who have led the campaign to refuse education to Muslim girls. Teachers in the small town of Flers even went on strike when a 12-year-old pupil refused to remove her headscarf . Amazingly,
almost without exception, all the 70 staff at the school objected to the little girl wearing hijab (Jean Monnet Junior High School, Jan 1999).
France has even tried to impose its xenophobic practices in Muslim countries. The Champollion School in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which is a subsidiary of a French NGO, expelled a 12 year old Muslim girl last October because she began to wear hijab. Then as further punishment they expelled her three brothers from the school. When the family went to court to seek justice, the French consulate intervened with the court on behalf of the school and asked the court to consider the school officials as ‘diplomats’ who could not be tried under Egyptian law. The judge rejected the absurd claim and awarded damages to the family. It was later discovered that the school didn't even include Arabic in its syllabus! Imagine if a Muslim school in France refused to teach French!
Muslim Women Not Allowed To Marry
Jacques Martin, mayor of Nogent-sur-Marne (suburban Paris), a member of President Jacques Chirac's conservative UMP party, has insisted that from November 2003, that if a Muslim woman wishes to marry she must first go against her beliefs and remove her hijab, only then can she enter a civil weddings at her city hall. Couples marrying in France must be wed at a civil ceremony at their local city hall as the state does not recognise religious weddings. Interestingly only Muslims are banned from wearing a veil in city hall, Christian brides are permitted to wear their wedding veils without hindrance.
Muslim Women Not Allowed To Enter Bank
The French bank Société Générale has admitted to turning away a Muslim woman from its branch in Paris on Monday, December 22 2003, after she refused their demands to take off her hijab. Further more the bank has refused to apologise, saying that the "over-zealous" security guards were following orders to deter robbers.
This bank is islamophobic
Muslim Women Refused Passports
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in April 2003, insisted Muslim women be forced to remove their hijab for identity card / passport photographs citing a 1999 ruling.
Muslim Women Denied Medical Treatment
President Chirac in a televised address stated that Muslim women will now be prohibited from requesting a female doctor treat them even if one is available.
A French doctor has put up a sign, reminiscent of the "No Blacks" and "No Jews" signs of previous shameful times, which reads 'I refuse to treat veiled women' in the waiting room of his Paris-based medical clinic. Further, it demands that Muslims women remove their hijab before entering his clinic. The doctor explains "I
was shocked due to the increasing numbers of veiled women in our neighbourhood... living in France necessitates...
that women should not wear Hijab."
(IOL 24 Jan 2004 & Reuters 5 Jan 2004).
Muslim Women Denied Employment
President Chirac has insisted that private businesses should be allowed to ban their Muslim employees from wearing hijab "for reasons of security or client contact" and sack them if they don't abide with the ban.
adj. having a hatred of women;
Oxford English Dictionary
Muslim Women Barred From Being Jurors
France's justice minister, Dominique Perben, said on Nov 25 2003 that he personally had decided to replace a woman juror who wore her Islamic headscarf in court, saying he wanted to ensure a fair trial. The woman was to have been a juror in a trial in Bobigny, outside Paris, for the attempted murder of two police officers.
Muslim Girls Barred From Sports
On 10 June 2002, Willesden Judo Club (from Britain) attended a tournament with French Judo clubs near Paris. One of the kids on the British team, 10 year old Zainab, was barred by the french organisers from taking part because she wore a hijab along with her judo uniform. They demanded she remove her hijab, then she would be allowed to play. She took a stand for what she believed in and refused to be bullied. To their credit the whole British team of over 100 participants renounced the 35 medals they has won so far and walked out in solidarity with Zainab. (see full story)
Zainab barred from judo competition in France
Hijab Fashion Shows Banned
Jean-Pierre Brard, the mayor of the Paris suburb of Montreuil-sous-Bois, has banned two fashion shows because they featured hijabs (Oct 4 2004). "Ready to wear for Muslim Women", a women-only event was organized by the "Jasmeen" label.
The list of legalised persecution of Muslims in france today has an uncanny resemblance to laws introduced by the Nazis to hound Jews out of society, in preparation for the death camps. At that time it was the Vichy government in France that willingly collaborated in genocide. Today it is Chirac who has given his blessing to the anti-Muslim laws that are to be voted in the French assembly next month.
Already emulators are watching from other European countries, ready to follow the French lead in legalising the persecution of its Muslim minorities:-
Hijab In Germany
In September 2003, after a five year battle, Germany’s highest court in Karlsruhe finally ruled that school authorities in the southern city of Stuttgart were wrong to sack a Muslim woman from a teaching job because she wore a headscarf in the classroom. But the court also stated that although Germany’s constitution did not forbid the wearing of headscarves in state-run schools, individual states could impose such a ban if they wished.
On October 10th 2003, seven out of Germany's sixteen states backed legislation barring hijab at a meeting of the 16 regional ministers for culture, education and religious affairs. Already two of these states - Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have drafted bills which, if passed, would prohibit teachers in state-funded schools from wearing headscarves. The bills will be sent before their respective state parliaments for approval early in the New Year.
In an interview with Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper (21 Dec 2004) Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder supported the ban on hijab by saying that "headscarves have no place among people who act on behalf of the state, and that includes teachers".
Update April 2004: The German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has banned Muslim women teachers from its schools, State culture minister Annette Schavan was quoted as saying "headscarves have no place in schools". The state assembly approved the law almost unanimously. Another five out of 16 states are in the process of passing similar bans.
Hijab In Belgium
Belgium is seeking to emulate France by planning to ban religious symbols from its own courts, schools and offices. Backing the controversial French legislation that seeks to ban the Islamic hijab and other religious symbols from schools, Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Dawael has called for a similar law in Belgium.
"We should do the same thing about it in our country," Dawael said in a letter reprinted in Belgian newspapers (11 Jan 2004).
He argued that civil servants including schoolteachers, judges and police officers should be banned from wearing hijab while at work. The same rule should apply to pupils in Belgium's state schools he added.
In September 2003 a french speaking school in Laken, near Brussels,
in which the majority of the pupils are Muslim, banned its girls from wearing the hijab.
In December 2003 two Belgian senators,
Anne-Marie Lizin, and Liberal Alain Destexhe,
presented a draft law to the Senate to ban hijab in all state schools.
Public hospitals throughout Brussels' Iris group (5 hospitals) are to ban the wearing of hijab by their staff (6 Jan 2004).
Many private hospitals have already adopted such a ban.
Some Belgian medical schools have taken a similar approach, with the Free University of Brussels banning women from wearing hijab during practical exercises and while undertaking practical training within a hospital environment.
Even when there is no law present, local authorities are trying to pursue islamophobic practices. Authorities in the town of Vise refused to renew a Muslim womans identity card saying they would only provide a new card if she removed her hijab for the photo. Only after she took them to court and won (15 Jan 2004) was she permitted her identity card. The point of a photograph on an identity card is to identify, as its name suggests, the holder. That means that the picture should be as close a likeness as possible to the normal appearance of the cardholder, and in this case that means a young woman who always wears an Islamic veil, the court ruled.
Hijab In Denmark
A Muslim supermarket cashier
was sacked after she chose to wear hijab. Her employer, the Fotex supermarket chain (part of Denmarks second largest supermarket group DSG) said her headscarf breached its dress code which forbids all religious symbols. Her trade union HK disagreed and sued Fotex on her behalf for unfair dismissal under Danish anti-discrimination law. Astonishingly the high court, ignoring the European Human Rights Convention, ruled against the cashier (18 Dec 2003). It was revealed that the ruling came a day after DSG lifted a ban on another type of headgear - Sant Claus hats.
Jorgen Hoppe, HK director pointed to the hypocrisy "its thought provoking that workers are allowed to wear Santa hats to mark a Christian holiday."
This supermarket is islamophobic
In the past (Aug 2000) when a 16 year old school girl won her right to wear hijab at work after taking her employer, Denmark's largest department store Magasin Du Nord, to court, the Prime Minister intervened and attacked the court ruling in a tabloid newspaper: "The court decision in favour of a Muslim girl can have consequences. I will advise these girls not to wear these scarves." In the media debate that followed both
the right and left wing joined forces in attacking Denmark's Muslim minority, cautioning them not to demand too much and instead accept the
prevailing norms of the host society.
Hijab In Italy
The Miele & Cri-Cri kindergarten in northern Samone banned a Muslim teacher for wearing a headscarf saying it might "scare" the children (March 2004). When the Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu criticised the ban, the Northern League, a coalition partner of Berlusconi's government, attacked the hijab. "If someone comes from the jungle and is used to going around dressed like Tarzan, they can do it there, but not here," Northern League senator Roberto Calderoli said. The Northern League is also pushing for a law that would require a referendum every time a request is made to build a mosque in Italy.
In the town of Drezzo Muslim women wearing a nikab (face hijab) are being given penalty tickets by the police - like parking tickets - every time they are seen in public wearing their nikab (Sept 2004). Mrs.Sabrina Varroni, a mother of four and a convert to Islam, has already been fined $100 (40 euros) for appearing twice in public wearing nikab - once when collecting her children from school. The Northern League mayor, Cristian Tolettini, has interpreted
Mussolini's fascist 1931 law
banning masks as referring to Islamic dress.
Not satisfied with the ruling, Cesarino Monti, a Northern League senator, has proposed an even tougher one: a fine of up to 5,000 euros and up to six months in jail for Muslim women caught wearing nikab.
Cesarino Monti, Senator in the Italian Parliament
is calling for Muslim women caught
a face veil to be jailed for six months
Hijab In Spain
A Spanish state-funded school refused a 13 year old Muslim girl entry because she wears hijab. Delia Duró, the principal of the Instituto Juan de Herrera school in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, said hijab was "a symbol of submission of women" which "violates citizens' civil rights." Interestingly the school is run by Catholic nuns! The Education Minister, Pilar del Castillo, supported the ban and argued that the hijab is not a "religious symbol but a sign of discrimination against women" and added that she was prepared to legislate over the issue if necessary. The Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Juan Carlos Aparicio, went further comparing the desire to wear hijab with the unIslamic practice of female circumcision, describing them both as "savagery" (Feb 2002).
Hijab In Britain
Whilst the race-relations law in Britain protects other religious minorities like Jews and Sikhs from discrimination, it specifically excluded Muslims. Muslims unlike the other religious minorities are racially diverse and cannot be defined in terms of race, and so the excuse goes, are left unprotected by the law. Even after a decade of lobbying, and with independent academic studies, like the Runnymede Trust report on Islamophobia, all advising government of the need to provide equal protection under the law for Muslims, successive governments have all refused to do so.
This loophole in the law has lead to horrendous discrimination of Muslims in all sectors of society including schooling and employment.
One example which has hit the news recently (5 Dec 2003) is that of Icknield High School in Luton where governors are currently considering whether the school should continue its discriminatory practice of banning girls from wearing hijab. It was in 1999 that the schools islamophobic practices were first exposed (Muslim News 26.11.99):
Shabana Katisar, 16, who is in Year 11 at Icknield High School, said many girls wanted to wear the hijab but were prevented by the school. She said she wears the hijab to school and removes it when she enters the premises. On the occasions that she has kept the hijab on in school she, and other girls, have been placed in isolation.
She said: " It has happened many times. Last year, Sadia, who is a year ahead of me, came into school wearing hijab. She was isolated for two days. Her parents moved her to another school where they are allowed to wear hijab..."
Ms Kausar also said that she and a friend were placed in isolation in September when they wore the hijab to school. She added that the school is adopting double standards with this issue:
"Sikh boys are allowed to wear a turban even though it is not part of the uniform. This is because they are protected under law but we are not because we are Muslims."
Ms Kausar has discussed the issue with her Head Teacher, Keith Ford, but has been told to remove the hijab or face continued isolation. She has also spoken with the Equal Opportunity teacher: " She is sympathetic to us but she told me she cannot do anything as the Head Teacher has the final say."
Mr Ford acknowledged that two pupils were placed in isolation and said the "head scarf is not part of the uniform." When asked why Sikh boys are allowed to wear the turban when it is not part of the uniform, Mr Ford replied: " we took legal advice and were told that Sikhs are protected by law. I am not going to break the law."
Head Teacher Keith Ford
placed a school girl in isolation
for two days because she wore hijab
Whilst the government had denied any plans to outlaw hijab, at least one MP, Dr Evan Harris*, a Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has vocally supported the hijab ban. On a BBC radio programme (29 Jan 2004) he compared hijab to a fashion accessory and said schools are
entitled to ban them. Evan Harris is also the honourable secretary of the National Secular Society**. When the interviewer asked him "is this ban not against
the fundamental human right of freedom of religious practice?" he
replied "no it isn't because it doesn't interfere with the right of religious practice, schools are for learning
not for practicing religion". No doubt he would use this same
secular fundamentalist argument to ban hijab from
hospitals, places of work and all other public areas.
against Muslim women
( from interview on BBC Radio 5, 29 Jan 2004)
Action Point: A model letter is available to send to the lib-dem leadership demanding that action be taken against Evan Harris for his discriminatory outburst and for official lib-dem policy to be clarified.
* Muslim voters should also note that Dr Evan Harris is the Treasurer of British-Israel Parliamentary Group and in June 2000 he was part of a "Liberal Democrat Friends of
Israel" visit to Israel which was funded by the Israeli
** In their newsletter (23 Jan 2004), the National Secular Society like the the BNP use Islamophobia to raise money and recruit members:
"Secularism is under sustained threat from a resurgent Islam - and not just in France. In this country, too, it is becoming difficult to even discuss minority religions in critical terms without landing in trouble. We need to resist. We can only do that if we are an organisation with a significant body of support. That's why we need you to join. We will never be taken seriously unless enough people are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder and make this a movement to be reckoned with. You can join, (£15 individuals, £23 couples, £9 unwaged) or make a donation online using The Royal Bank of Scotland's secure server
here (or send a cheque or postal order to..."
A Time To Act...
For Muslims this is a time to mobilise - a time to act.
First we must understand that we are facing this struggle in France because we failed to act when it happened in Turkey. Our sisters in Turkey are currently facing long prison sentences simply for daring to wear hijab - hijab is treason in Attaturks secular republic - and yet the Muslim world is silent. We in Europe are perhaps in a position to wield greatest influence on a Turkey begging to be included in Europe and yet we have failed them.
The Muslim world remained silent
whilst Turkish sisters were imprisoned for wearing hijab,
See Campaign Against Hijab Ban in Turkey
Lone groups like the Islamic Human Right Commission have been left on their own to take up the challenge. Whilst their work is commendable, but without support its like throwing a pebble in to the sea to stop the wave of secular fascism that is sweeping Europe.
We must understand that we are all in this together - its not a Turkish problem nor a French one - its our struggle. The frontline happened to be Turkey - we lost, so now its moved to France and Germany, with the rest of Europe ready to fall if we lose again. And remember as with Nazi Germany, the legalisation of anti-Muslim laws is the just the first step towards their objective, their 'final solution' to achieving a Europe cleansed of its Muslim population.
This is the time to mobilise - to act - to defend Islam
Recent weeks have seen at least three demonstrations outside the French Embassy in London (you can read about one of them below), and this Saturday (17th January 2004) there will be coordinated action across the whole world against the french hijab ban including two more demonstrations outside the French embassy in London (11 am, 100 yards from Knightsbridge underground station), and a march starting at Marble Arch at 11.30 (going to the Embassy). These demonstrations at this time are crucial in pressuring the french parliament before it decides next month whether it can get away with passing such discriminatory laws. Please ensure that you do not miss this opportunity to stand for justice, for Islam.
Update Feb 2004: See our new page on the 17th January 2004 Hijab Protest, it included over 20 audio speeches.