Coronavirus face masks can’t hide France’s Islamophobia

Source: TRT World

By Nabila Ramdani

French laws against Muslim women with face-coverings stand in marked contrast to its pandemic policy. Is this a double standard?

Division and hate are the usual results when allegedly civilised societies get involved in debates about face coverings.

Whether it is Boris Johnson describing women in burqas as “looking like letter boxes” or “bank robbers” when he was a Conservative backbencher, or the French Socialist Laurence Rossignol comparing them to “negroes who supported slavery,” the tone is always ugly in the extreme.

So vitriolic, in fact, that a decade ago it seemed like the entire might of the Paris establishment was aimed at criminalising anybody who wanted to hide their most prominent features in public places.

A ban introduced to international fanfare in 2010 nominally applied to “any face covering”, including headwear such as winter balaclavas and motorcycle helmets, but the real target was the niqab – a black garment draped over everything except the eyes and hands, and mainly worn by a very small minority of Muslim women.

Disingenuous arguments ranging from “protecting national security” to “liberating women in a secular society” were advanced by deceitful politicians during parliamentary sessions. They also insisted that covering your face was an affront to “le vivre ensemble” – literally “living together” and the ideological basis for harmonious existence in democratic societies.

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