Suppose you someone with a sign on their head advertising pizza or Chevrolet’s. You would say they are overdoing things or taking advantage of others but everyone would agree that the advertising was excessive. Advertising is the reason Ilhan Omar wears a large headdress.
A Gap ad in France shows a girl in a hijab. On Aug. 11, Aurore Bergé, a French MP and the spokesperson for the centrist party La République en Marche, tweeted: “Nothing justifies or authorizes the veiling of little girls! And today, Gap makes it a commercial argument under the pretext of an ode to diversity” She told Le Monde.
Lydia Guirous, the spokesperson for the right-wing party Les Républicains, accused the brand of “submitting to Islamism.” “I have denounced several times the rise in power of the veil imposed on little girls, which is a form of abuse and a trampling of our values of equality, freedom, and secularism,” Guirous wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
The modern French Republic implemented the principle of religious neutrality in schools and other public places to ensure that religion would never again supersede the government, and that all children would have a national identity free of the constraints of religion.
But it wasn’t until 2004 that France passed a law to limit the use of veils and other religious signs deemed “ostentatious” in public spaces. The 2004 secularism law, as it is known in most of the English-speaking world, states that “In schools, colleges and public high schools, the wearing of signs or dresses by which students ostensibly manifest religious affiliation is prohibited.” That included yarmulkes, large Christian crosses, Sikh turbans, and Muslim veils.
France is far from the only European country that has imposed a legal limit on Muslim women’s clothing. Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and Austria have all instituted full or partial bans on face-covering Islamic veils, and the European court of human rights had upheld France’s burqa ban in the face of legal challenges.
Along with religious concerns, another reason for the bans stems from some Europeans’ opinion that the Islamic mandate for women to cover themselves in public is sexist and patriarchal. That belief was evident in 2016, at the height of the “burkini” scandal in France, when police officers were fining Muslim women left and right for wearing the Islamic-friendly full-body covering at the beach. Here is the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, encapsulating that view.
President Trump in a move that makes banning the burka, the veil or the hijab a lesser issue banned immigration from seven Muslim countries and his ban was supported as correct by the U.S. Supreme Court.