French minister accused of Islamophobia over veil comments

Hajer M’tiri reports: “There are women who choose [to wear headscarves], there were also American negroes who were for slavery”. This sentence was said by a French government minister on Wednesday. As shocking and offensive as those words are, for people from around the globe, in particular the Muslim and Black communities in France, some activists say they are not surprised, as those words “are just a continuation of the French government’s hypocritical and openly racist policy”.

Speaking on French radio RMC on Wednesday about fashion houses commercializing accessories such as veils or headscarves, Laurence Rossignol, the French minister of families, children and women’s rights, compared women who choose to wear headscarves to the “American Negroes who were for slavery” and blasted the fashion houses.

It all started on her Twitter account, when Rossignol expressed her unhappiness with British brand Marks & Spencer announcing it would offer full-body “burqini” swimsuits in its online store.

Several international clothing and accessories brands recently launched lines for “Islamic modest wear”: the Swedish giant H&M last year used a Muslim hijabi model as their main face for its advertising campaign, while the Japanese brand Uniqlo earlier this month announced it would begin selling hijabs in its London stores.

Last year Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de la Renta, and Mango all launched varyingly “modest” collections for Muslim women.

Luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana last January launched a collection of hijabs and abayas targeting wealthy Muslim women in the Middle East.

Abdallah Zekri, president of the National Observatory against Islamophobia, told Anadolu Agency that Rossignol’s remarks “stigmatize Muslim women” and “violate France’s secularist principles.”

He accused Rossignol of not tackling serious and “real” problems such as unemployment and terrorism, and instead choosing to attack Muslim women.

“Instead of choosing the path of dialogue, she is stigmatizing Muslim women. She seems to be sliding a bit to the methods of Daesh recruiters,” Zekri said.

He continued: “It is as if she’s acting as a recruiting sergeant for Daesh with such remarks. You know, it is with these kinds of statements that Daesh recruiters brainwash their victims, saying, ‘Look, they don’t see you as citizens…’.” [Continue reading…]

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