The French Senate votes to ban the headscarf in sports competitions |

PARIS-

The French Senate has voted in favor of banning headscarves in sports competitions, arguing that neutrality is a requirement on the playing field.

The French legislative upper house voted Tuesday evening in favor of an amendment to a bill stipulating that the wearing of “ostentatious religious symbols is prohibited” to participate in events and competitions organized by sports federations.

In their text, the senators clearly state that the amendment aims to prohibit “the wearing of the veil in sports competitions”. They added that the scarf can endanger the safety of the athletes who wear it when practicing their discipline.

The amendment proposed by the right-wing group Les Républicains and opposed by the French government was adopted by 160 votes in favor and 143 against. A committee made up of members of the Senate and lower house is now expected to meet to find a compromise on the text before it is published, which means the amendment can still be deleted.

It is unclear whether the ban would be in place for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Olympic organizing committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The vote came a year after lawmakers in the lower house of the French parliament approved a bill to tighten control over mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to protect France from radical Islamists and promote respect for French secular values, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s priorities. flagship projects.

While France is bloodied by terrorist attacks, few would dispute that radicalization is a danger. But critics also see the law as a political ploy to lure the right to Macron’s centrist party ahead of this year’s presidential election.

In the amendment, the senators declared that all citizens are free to practice their religion, but insisted that everyone refrain from highlighting their differences.

“Today, there is legal uncertainty about the wearing of religious symbols and it is necessary for the State to clearly define the rules,” reads the amendment voted by the senators. “If the wearing of the veil is not explicitly prohibited, we could see the emergence of community sports clubs promoting certain religious symbols.”

The French football federation already prohibits women from wearing the headscarf during official matches, as well as during the competitions it organizes. A group of footballers wearing the headscarf called “Les Hijabeuses”, in reference to the word hijab designating the headscarf, is campaigning against this ban.

The group says all Muslim women should have the right to practice their favorite sport at a competitive level while wearing a headscarf if they choose. He filed a lawsuit in the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, to overturn the ban on the federation.


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