Facing criticism, Le Pen allies temper rhetoric on hijab ban – The Organization for World Peace
On Sunday, French voters will choose between incumbent President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election. Macron remains the frontrunner, with some apparent momentum behind him from Le Pen. However, Le Pen, who is running for the third time, seems to be closer than before to obtaining favorable political results for his campaign. If Le Pen is elected, a French hijab ban would be gradually implemented.
Le Pen’s program has come under scrutiny as Election Day approaches. According to the National Post, in an interview with France Inter radio, Louis Aliot, the far-right mayor of Perpignan and former life friend of Le Pen, said the hijab ban was one of many political measures to fight “Islamism,” but that its implementation should be done “gradually.” He believes that the ban should start with state-run services and then be gradually expanded. said that “there will be a debate in parliament and then a decision will be made”.
The French Republic is founded on a rigorous separation of Church and State to promote the equality of all private beliefs rather than to stigmatize any particular religion. In this political system, people should have the right to practice their religion and express their faith. Therefore, an environment of mutual respect regarding religions should be fostered to allow everyone to practice and believe as they please without interference. A hijab ban is an attack on the agency of Muslim women that would disrupt their autonomy in practicing their faith.
In a country that has seen a succession of horrific terrorist attacks in recent years, issues related to France’s Muslim population, one of the largest in Europe, have become a burning political concern. Given France’s colonial history, the state’s rationale for banning the hijab, aimed at liberating and empowering young women, is highly controversial. Constantly referring to Muslim women as oppressed not only victimizes them and undermines their autonomy, but also perpetuates colonial moral justifications. The French hijab ban establishes a specific image of citizenship by openly excluding Muslim women who cover their faces and heads.
The criticism Le Pen received from the public over the hijab ban prompted his campaign approach to soften his stance and frame the ban in a way that would appeal to the interest of French voters.