French far-right triggered by hijabi footballers

An advert from multinational cosmetics company Sephora featuring Muslim footballers wearing hijabs has sparked outrage from far-right groups in France.

The video includes interviews with Les Hijabeuses, a group of young French hijab-wearing footballers fighting for the right to wear the headscarf during games.

“These women are all about surpassing yourself, team spirit, fighting spirit and inclusion. We followed them, from their beauty routine to the football pitch,” reads the video’s caption in French.

Not surprisingly, the advert has created a storm with the mainstream and the far-right — often a combination that works in tandem against Muslims in France.

Bizarrely claiming the ad promoted the “Islamisation of France,” some critics called for a Boycott of Sephora on social media.

“Sephora is promoting the hijab, even though it is banned in sport. What a disgrace!” wrote MP Nicolas Dupont-Aignan on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The furore comes just days after France’s decision to prohibit students from wearing abayas in state-run schools drew criticism from Muslim groups and human rights organisations. On the first day of the new academic year, nearly 300 girls were prevented from entering school as they were deemed to be wearing an abaya.

Many applaud Sephora

While extremists propagated the #BoycottSephora hashtag, many applauded Sephora for presenting a message of inclusion and positive representation.

“In the current context particularly discriminatory for Muslim women, the CCIE congratulates @sephorafrance for its initiative to give space to Muslim female footballers, thus participating in raising awareness of Muslim women, “said the advocacy group, Collective for Countering Islamophobia in Europe, on its Instagram.

“Show your support for Hijabus and Sephora by flooding the comments with your encouragement!”

There was even some political support. Aurélien Taché MP for Val-d’Oise said, “Total support for @Sephora and especially for @leshijabeuses! In France, Islamophobia will not pass.”

Les Hijabeuses

In France – home to the largest Muslim population in the EU – the French FA and most national sports federations forbid the use of hijab, using the argument of neutrality in sport or hygiene and safety.  

But campaigners reject those claims, pointing out that football’s governing body, FIFA, has authorised the wearing of headgear.

Human and women’s rights advocates see the widely-criticised policy as racist, discriminatory and a hindrance to gender equity in the sport.

Les Hijabeuses came to prominence in 2020 after it tried to stop the controversial bill that barred Muslim women from wearing the hijab while playing sports.

They created a petition with over 75,000 signatures and received widespread support on social media.

The group released a video of French female athletes and campaigners raising awareness of the issue with the hashtag “#LaissezNousJouer” (#LetUsPlay).

Image: Les Hijabeuses instagram


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