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Currently, I am a Fellow for the Entrepreneurship for Good Program (Future of Audio Entertainment Challenge) at The DO School. I am a media professional, social entrepreneur and storyteller who experiments with media and art to document life, and I have worked with nonprofits, governments and campaigns internationally. I have an M.Sc. in Social & Cultural Anthropology from the London School of Economics & Political Science.
Attire is political—especially, when on a woman’s body.
Gap’s latest ad features children from different backgrounds gearing up for school and among them, a girl wearing a hijab. It has been released in the U.K and the U.S., and in the latter country it has been warmly applauded.
However, France had something to say with politicians calling for a boycott of Gap with several MPs, such as MP Agnès Thill of La République en Marche, expressing: “This advertisement is an insult to childhood … No hijab in our secular schools.”
But, France is not alone with more European countries following suit, the most recent being Denmark, which has adopted a strict stance against the veiling of Muslim women, with punishments ranging from fines to jail time.
If the intention of prohibiting and condemning veiling is to uphold “values of equality, freedom, and secularism” as MP Lydia Guirous of Les Républicains tweets, how has it affected Muslim citizens and has it been effective in the region?
Critics in France and abroad say that the country’s focus on the veil both arises from and furthers bias against the country’s roughly 8 million Muslims. Rather than promoting a sense of secular inclusion, they argue, laws limiting veiled women’s access to public and community spaces have encouraged rampant discrimination against Muslims in general, and Muslim women in particular. Statistics collected by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia show that veiled women are disproportionately the targets of Islamophobic attacks in France.
Bans against veiling single out Muslim women, denying them the right to move as freely as other citizens. The state's decision encourages anti-Islamic sentiment and harbors false assumptions, while failing to ensure the safety of its Muslim citizens and encroaching upon their personal choices.
It seems values have precedence over people, enjoying greater liberties and more privileges.