Promoting the Islamic headscarf as a symbol of freedom was an idea that was adopted by the Council of Europe, a human rights institution based in Strasbourg, for a few days. In light of the controversy that arose, especially in France, the campaign co-financed by the European Commission, and with the finger of the Muslim Brotherhood, was finally withdrawn.
“How boring would the world be if everyone looked the same?” With this opening question, the Council of Europe, in co-operation with the European Union, launched an online and social media campaign on October 28. The campaign included photos and videos of smiling young men surrounded by slogans such as “Bring joy, accept the hijab”, “My veil is my choice” or “Beauty in diversity is like freedom in the veil. Diversity in this case is the “acceptance” and “respect” of a religious symbol. On the other hand, freedom comes into conflict with the laws of the French Republic, for example, which have prohibited the wearing of headscarves in schools since 2004.
The campaign went relatively unnoticed at first, but ended up receiving very polarized reactions on the internet and social media. And he reopened Pandora’s Box in France, which finally saw in August Anti-Separatism and Sectarianism Law It became a reality, after months of discussions and beheadings Teacher Samuel Baty To make the voices heard of those who see political Islam as a threat to the liberal values of society.
“Islam is the enemy of freedom. This campaign is the enemy of the truth “, declared a new fashion for the French far right Eric Zemmour. The presidential candidate second in the voting intentions has criticized the” jihad advertising “paid by French taxes.
Marine Le Pen, overtaken by Zemour on the right, could not remain silent on a cause dear to her voters. The leader of the National Union declared: “This European contact in favor of the Islamic veil is scandalous and inappropriate because millions of women courageously fight this oppression.
The president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, also expressed her “astonishment”. “No, the veil is not a dress like any other, it is not a symbol of freedom, but a symbol of submission. Europe’s role is to support women around the world who are fighting for the right to denounce it! On the right.
The campaign, funded by the European Union, was carried out in cooperation with two associations linked to Islamic fundamentalism.
On the left, a few (a few) voices were also angry. “Remembering that women are free to wear the veil (according to the laws of each member state, in France the laws of 1905 and 2004) is one thing. And to say that freedom under the veil is another. Is this the role of the Council of Europe?
The French were not the only ones to protest. Belgian MEP Asita Kanko said: “A huge mistake by the Council of Europe. This publication undermines women’s struggle for freedom! As a woman and a member of Parliament, I am deeply shocked. I will always oppose those who abuse the freedom to impose subjugation on women. .
The controversy finally reached the French government and Minister of State for Youth Sarah El-Hairy said on television that France had “expressed its strong disapproval” through diplomatic channels, and the campaign was subsequently thwarted on Tuesday.
“We will study a better proposal for this project,” confirmed the European organization, which represents 47 countries, in a statement to AFP. The Council of Europe stated that the aim of the campaign was to “raise awareness of the need to respect diversity and inclusion and to combat all types of hate speech”.
The organization said the campaign was born out of “individual statements made by participants in one of the workshops of the We Can project.” Who implemented the project? according to Marian, FEMISSO, a forum for European Muslim youth, lobbying for the headscarf and arm of an organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood, Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe; As well as the European Forum of Islamic Women, which is seen as a feminist emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
An expert on extremism told the French magazine that “the Council of Europe is actually a very weak organization which presents an easy target. Islamic activists have focused on this institution to fight Islamophobia and pro-hijab activism.
EU court accepts business ban
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in July that The employer can prohibit employees from wearing the hijab As long as there is a basis for it. The Luxembourg court analyzed the complaints of two Muslim women who were arrested because they began to wear the headscarf after returning from periods of absence in their centers (one in a pharmacy, the other in a nursery, both in Germany).
The European Court of Justice has ruled that a ban on the use of a visible religious symbol is not discriminatory because it applies to all religions. However, according to the CJEU, the employer must demonstrate that there is a “real need” and that without this prohibition, the impartiality of the company would be called into question. As early as 2017, the same court ruled that in certain circumstances, companies can ban the use of religious symbols by workers.