To Hijab or Not to Hijab: Discussing the hijab and the Separatism Bill in France

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Arab Girl Pod is a podcast about empowering females without the restraints of cultural norms. Episode 5, discusses hijab and Separatism Bill in France.

The French Senate votes on banning the hijab and issues the Separatism Bill for Muslim women under the age of 18 rasies.

What is the hijab? Is it obligatory or non-obligatory by Muslim women in Islam to wear the hijab? Are women oppressed behind the hijab?

There are many controversial questions that arise from wearing this simple head covering. It is now important to speak up, espcially with what is currently seen within European countries’ and their stance towards the hijab.

Rasha Omar founder and creator of ArabPodGirl connected with influencer Hiba Hamed through social media to create a podcast for the community. The episode To Hijab or Not to Hijab, was released on March 23, 2021. During the same time of discussing and publishing the podcast. Hiba and Rasha noticed coincidently the French senate in France releasing the “separatism bill” on March 30, 2021.

Context about the headscarf: overcoming systemic and racial discrimination

In the 21st century we are seeing numerous changes being made to the hijab by fashion influencers, society, and culture who defy the true meaning and purpose of the hijab. The key element is to dress modestly as a whole but also to show good behaviour, manners, speech, and public appearance.

Some women decide to wear the veil or the hijab as a turban over their heads and show neck and some parts of their body while others would cover fully their body and only show face, hands and feet with loose and non-see through garments. We see other groups of Muslim women who would cover their bodies fully and only show their eyes behind the veil (niqab).

These are just to list a few methods of hijabs being worn a certain way based on a certain Islamic house of thoughts and principles. We also do see Muslim women who decide not to wear the hijab publicly but do very much still practice the Islamic faith and religion.

There is a fascination to see how the hijab has evolved throughout time. But what is the true meaning behind the hijab and who wears the hijab? The hijab is a head covering element for many Muslim women.

woman sitting on bench

According to Beliefnet, the word “hijab” comes from the Arabic “hajaba,” which means to conceal or hide from view. In general terms, it refers to Islamic modest dressing for women. It has come to signify the headscarf, which is the covering many Muslim women use to hide their hair, neck, and often bosom. Many Islamic scholars and practcing that Muslim women are required to observe the hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry. This means the hijab is not obligatory in front of your blood- relations such as the father, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, or young children.

According to Vogue Arabia culture article

The French senate voted in favor of the “prohibition in the public space of
any conspicuous religious sign by minors and of any dress or clothing which
would signify an interiorization of women over men.”

In addition, hijabi mothers would be prohibited from accompanying school field trips and burkinis would be banned at public swimming pools. These laws, which are part of the proposed “Separatism Bill” hijab and separatism bill in France are not yet in effect – they will first need to be confirmed by the National Assembly.

More education, research, and study need to be looked at why the French senate decided to bring forth such a notion hijab and separatism bill in France.

Is it due to the fear of Islam (Islamophobia)? Is it a patriarchal and misogynist attack towards feminism and visible minority veiled women? Is it due to conserving the French culture and traditions? Or is it due to the influx of immigration to France during the pandemic?

These are questions that need to be addressed in order to understand the underlying cause and root of such a bill to come in motion.

Rasha quotes from a Muslim non-hijabi perspective on the new separatism bill which is not yet in effect in France

Hiba quotes from a Muslim hijabi perspective on the new separatism bill which is not yet in effect in France

The hijab and separatism bill in France bill is still in progress towards the end of the summer of 2021 to finalize a decision.

In my opinion, uniting as one Muslim ummah would help outweigh the hate seen towards the beautiful religion of Islam by the French government in France and other countries who oppress the religion and women.

It is essential to have a voice and not silence those who are being oppressed, in this case veiled women in Islam.

Protests of peace, word of mouth, empowerment, being resilient, and one person can make a huge difference in the community.

Let’s be part of the change that we want to see in this world and make history.

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