The French Senate votes to ban the headscarf in sports competitions

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 indicated 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 implemented for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

French President Emmanuel Macron (Yves Herman/PA)

The Olympic Organizing Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The vote came a year after politicians in the lower house of the French parliament approved a bill to strengthen surveillance of mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to protect France from radical Islamists and promote respect for French values, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s 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 Mr Macron’s centrist party ahead of this year’s presidential election.

In their amendment, the senators said that every citizen is free to exercise his religion, but insisted that we refrain from highlighting his 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.

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