France’s latest anti-Islam bill draws fierce condemnation on social media

France’s latest anti-Islam bill draws fierce condemnation on social media

France’s latest legislative move to ban the wearing of hijab in public by Muslim girls under the age of 18 has sparked fierce condemnation on social media platforms with widespread use of the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab.

The French Senate’s move against the hijab – a widely diverse headdress worn by practicing Muslim women – came earlier this week as part of a persisting push by Paris to impose a so-called “anti-separatism” law that purportedly aims to reinforce the country’s secular system.

The move is seen as yet another Islamophobic scheme to target the nation’s minority Muslim population.

Debating the controversial legislation on March 30, French senators approved an amendment to the bill on Wednesday calling for what they claim as “prohibition in the public space of any conspicuous religious sign by minors and of any dress or clothing which would signify inferiority of women over men.”

The backlash against the anti-Islam amendment, however, was instantaneous, with many critics saying in the past week that the proposed legislation amounted to a “law against Islam.”

The controversy further drew the attention of a number of high-profile figures, including American Olympics woman athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad, who shared a post on Instagram suggesting that the amendment by the French Senate showed that “Islamophobia is deepening in France.”

“This is what happens when you normalize anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim hate speech, bias, discrimination, and hate crimes – Islamophobia written into law,” she added.

France’s lower chamber National Assembly, which is dominated by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La République En Marche (LREM) party, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill on February 16 before it was passed on to the conservative-led Senate.

The legislation has been debated in a highly-charged political atmosphere in France following three attacks last year, including the beheading on October 16 of teacher Samuel Paty, who tried to further highlight the publication of highly offensive caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in “a lesson on free speech” to his young students.

Last November, a US-based rights group was among many institutions slamming the French president for issuing an ultimatum at the time to Muslim leaders in France to proclaim that Islam is an “apolitical religion.”

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