What If Hijab Is Banned in France?
Hadi Yahmed, IOL Paris Correspondent
Translated By Abdelazim R. Abdelazim

 “What will we do if legislation banning hijab (Islamic headscarf) in schools is issued?” This question is asked by many veiled French women and pondered by the different leaders of the Muslim community. The pressing need for an answer to this question is intensified whenever the Stasi Commission, which observes compliance with secularity in France , interviews a new guest about whether they support legislation barring girls from wearing hijab in schools. Unprecedented media coverage is being given to the views of the commission’s guests on hijab, secularism, religious signs, and the consequences of passing the ban law.
The Tough Task
Finding an Islamic juridical gateway for dealing with the ban reality in schools and for adapting it to the situation of the Muslim community in France seems to be a tough task for French Muslim leaders. Dr. Abdul-Majid Al-Naggar, chairman of the Studies and Research Institute, subsidiary to the European Institute for Anthropology in Paris , states that answering a legislative question on whether it is possible to religiously put up with the ban reality is only the job of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
Al-Naggar, who is one of the few specialists in the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities, stated to IslamOnline.net that, in answering exceptional questions concerning the special reality of Muslim communities in the West, the jurisprudence of minorities does not transgress the general measures, limits, and conditions necessary for issuing every fatwa (religious ruling). The hijab-ban reality has to be juridically dealt with by the supreme fatwa authority in Europe , the European Council for Fatwa and Research, whose president is Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
It is hoped that the hijab issue will be on the council’s agenda in the next December meeting, as calls to introduce laws banning hijab in France and many other European countries are on the increase. Dr. Hassan Halawa, commissioner to the council, informed IslamOnline that the issue had been raised before and that the council forwarded a message last year to the French government asking it to respect the right of Muslim girls in France to practice their religious right to wear the Islamic headgear. Dr. Halawa affirms that not only is it a religious right, but it also represents compliance of the French politics with the maxims of the French Revolution and the international conventions of human rights. On the possibility of religiously bearing with the legislative ban, Halawa said that the council can provide a decisive judgment in this respect only if fatwa requests were received. Mr. Halawa considers that wearing hijab is a religious obligation, not a supererogatory practice that may be dealt with leniently without seeking an official fatwa issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
The Religious Purpose
The leaders of the Muslim community have expressed many times their repudiation of the introduction of such ban legislation. Even the most liberal of leaders, Mr. Dalil Abu Bakr, head of the French Council for the Islamic Faith, explicitly declared before the Stasi Commission last September that he was against a law banning hijab in schools despite his reservations toward exploiting the issue by political Islam in France . On the far left of Dalil Abu Bakr, Mr. Ammar Al-Asfar, one of the most outstanding Muslim leaders in France and imam of the Lille Mosque in northern France, expressed his belief that hijab has been a scapegoat for what has really been happening and that the Muslim community would condemn such legislation if issued and would behave freely and democratically to express its denunciation of a law denying the simplest of human rights, the right of a person to wear whatever costumes he or she feels appropriate. Mr. Al-Asfar explained to IslamOnline that hijab is not a religious sign like the crucifix or the Jewish skullcap because the religious purpose of the Islamic dress is to protect women.
Facing the Secular Extremism
On the possibility of reaching a compromise satisfying both the French laws and Muslim creed, Al-Asfar pointed out those Muslim females had ironically been banned from wearing hijab in some schools even without official legislation requiring so. Secular extremism, he added, has not accepted any compromises, though French Muslims have proved, on several occasions, that they were capable of getting out of the troubles and difficulties they faced by wise methods that preserved their religious rights. The search for a compromise, he said, has, however, become the job of many Muslim leaders in France .
Mr. Al-Tohami Ibriz, head of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, which won the majority of seats in the local elections, indicated that Muslims in France feel victimized because they have been drawn into a debate whose background is chiefly political. Ibriz elucidated to IslamOnline that if Muslims were forced to comply with a hijab-ban law, Muslim girls would take off their headscarves at school gates and put them on after the end of the school day, a reality already maintained at schools banning the headscarf even without a ban-legislation. The truth is that the Council of State, the highest juridical authority in France , has not banned the Muslim headgear since the first hijab issue raised in 1989. Al-Tohami Ibriz explained that many parties had tried to undermine the efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of the Interior, especially after the establishment of the French Council for the Muslim Faith this year. Some, Ibriz added, had wanted to embarrass Sarkozy, who had previously promised that no law banning hijab in schools would be introduced.
Mr. Ibriz has also called for a dialogue among representatives of France ’s religions to discuss whether hijab really represents a problem in schools. The real problem, in fact, Ibriz elaborates, lies in misinterpreting secularism which, in its essence, protects and tolerates religious creeds. Ibriz also said that Muslims in France would convince the government not to issue the ban-legislation and that, if such a law were introduced, they would obey it but with a continuous demand for change because they would consider it unjust. They would be forced to comply with any law issued in France so that they would not become a source of disturbance in this country, he resumed.
In fact, taking hijab off at school gates is an adopted practice in many countries, such as Turkey , which banned the Islamic headgear by legislation or decree. It is a solution that is neither ideal nor comfortable but is adopted under coercion to obey the law and satisfy fundamental secularism.



Home - Quran & HadithCharity - Family & HealthIslamMiscellaneousMatrimonials

Human Rights - WomenNewscenterBoycottChechnyaPalestine - Links