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Ilham Moussaid: “It is with Sadness I watch my life reduced to my headscarf”

Ilham Moussaid is an NPA candidate in forthcoming elections in France. The fact that she wears a headscarf has politicians from every corner in an uproar. French sensitivity to the scarf is bordering on fanaticism.

Ilham Moussaid

These two statements from Ilham are amazing and I think many Western Muslims can find resonance in what she says,

“Try as I might to explain that I am not oppressed and that it shows, there’s still a lack of understanding,” she told today’s Le Monde.

In a statement to local party members at the weekend she wrote: “It is with great sadness that I watch … my life reduced to my headscarf. It is with great sadness that I hear that my personal beliefs are a danger to others while I advocate friendship, respect, tolerance, solidarity and equality for all human beings.”

From the Guardian via Islamophobia-Watch:

Election Candidate in Headscarf causes Uproar in France

Olivier Besancenot, the postman-turned-revolutionary at the helm of France’s anti-capitalist movement, has been fiercely criticised from all sides of the political spectrum for fielding a headscarf-wearing candidate in forthcoming elections.

Ilham Moussaid, a 21-year-old Muslim woman who describes herself as “feminist, secular and veiled”, is running for the far-left New Anti-Capitalist party (NPA) in the south-eastern region of Avignon.

But, despite her insistence that there is no contradiction between her clothing and her political role, Moussaid’s candidacy in the regional vote due in March has angered other feminists and politicians.

In an echo of the controversy raised by recent moves to ban the full, face-covering veil in public places such as schools, hospitals and buses, critics have said that the young activist’s headscarf, which conceals only her hair, goes against values of laïcité – secularism – and women’s rights.

Today, in a sign of how deep concerns are running, a leading feminist group announced it would file an official complaint against the NPA’s list of candidates in the Vaucluse département to protest against what it called an “anti-secular, anti-feminist and anti-republican” stunt.

“In choosing to endorse ‘open’ laïcité, the NPA is perverting the values of the Republic and suggesting we reread them in a manner which conforms with regressive visions of women,” said the Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissives) association in a statement.

Others have expressed their shock at Besancenot’s attempt to field a candidate who sees no problem with making an overt statement about her religion in the public sphere, a practice considered taboo.

Moussaid’s candidacy has been considered all the more surprising because she is running for a party with far-left leanings traditionally seen as hostile to religion and pro-women’s rights. Socialist MP Aurélie Filippetti advised Besancenot to “reread Marx” in order to understand why the headscarf was unacceptable.

The government is attempting to wrap up a “great debate” on national identity, which many people believe has caused Islamophobia. It is reminiscent of the controversy in 2004 when headscarves and other conspicuous religious symbols were banned from state schools.

Moussaid, an advocate of contraception and abortion rights whose candidacy was announced last month, said she had been particularly stung by the criticism from feminist groups. “Try as I might to explain that I am not oppressed and that it shows, there’s still a lack of understanding,” she told today’s Le Monde.

In a statement to local party members at the weekend she wrote: “It is with great sadness that I watch … my life reduced to my headscarf. It is with great sadness that I hear that my personal beliefs are a danger to others while I advocate friendship, respect, tolerance, solidarity and equality for all human beings.”

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  • Mikhail

    It is not with much surprise that all I read here are mere attempts to justify the undermining of secularism. This is NOT something that started in France yesterday it started long long ago. While many of you may be ok with the idea of Theocracies and the like well I am not and I don’t feel the need to justify something that is basic to me in the development of a modern state. The law applies to all equally or it doesn’t so in that sense I unders tand the French logic. For to you call this “fear” of Muslims its merely beating your own drum to justify your own perspective.

  • George Carty

    The strange thing is, to me that headscarf doesn’t even look like Islamic hijab…

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  • Skipper, we’re not dhimmis, we’re not blinded by an irrational fear of muslims

  • skipper

    Wow! Lots of dhimmis here!

  • Larry

    While there may be some legitimate security concerns about the burqa, 70 years ago this is how other French women would have dressed. I have elderly female relatives that will not leave the house without a hat on, and they’re as American and as Christian as one can be. Basically, this sends the message that no matter how much Muslims try to fit in, there’s always something more they need to give up. Which of course plays into the hands of the extremists.

  • Ali

    I’m not really shocked. Knowing the West’s history towards them selves and than Islam, none of their actions really surprise me. It’s kind of funny, but sad, that the West’s men have their women so brain washed, that even their feminists try to act as their.
    French,britain, Belgium,Dutch, Germany,Italy, n now us Americans, should be ashamed to judge anyone. They should be the last people on earth to open their mouth, knowing their history. But I guess their amnesia of history atests to that. But they should remember that people around the world does not forget all the murdering, raping, looting that quickly!

  • Sir David

    I have a French freind who was surprised that our local swimming pool in Britain had women only sessions. Because she thought it was giving too much recognition to religious minorities.
    My daughter ( bless her) said she was wrong because many women like swimming but not showing off their bodies to everymans view because they are naturally modest.
    My French freind could not understand that view and showed she was paranoid about religion but I was and still am a proud dad

  • Ahmed

    @Ivelisse

    I just love your comment. First, you say “everyone” “knows” that Islam is an evil cult bent on dominating the world. Second, you are saying that it’s okay for her to be discriminated because she represents Islam.

    Do you see what I see? Bigotry! But wait, Islam is a cult, not a religion. I’m sorry, I’ll have to agree with you there. How preposterous of Muslims to build mosques with MINARETS on them!

    /sarcasm

  • Smoothie

    @Ivelisse

    I never knew I was part of a political cult of domination. I guess I better get of my back side and do some political dominating. Where should I start?

  • Ivelisse

    Bull, Is not her scarf. Everybody knows that Islam is not a religion, Is political cult of domination, Even if she is a moderate, she represents the intolerant cult of Islam.

  • TYO

    Hmmm…Just like in Switzerland where the feminists objected to the phallic symbolism of the minaret, left wing French feminists are objecting to headscarves. French secularism is clashing with displays of religiosity “Others have expressed their shock at Besancenot’s attempt to field a candidate who sees no problem with making an overt statement about her religion in the public sphere, a practice considered taboo.”

  • leonora

    wow, this woman is someone to watch. Thanks for bringing her to our attention!

  • Julianne

    I absolutely hate it when people toss out ‘women’s rights’ in such an idiotic way. It is a right of any person, man or woman, to wear what they want. If she wants to wear a headscarf for any personal, religious or even health regions then she has a right to do so. She chooses it. How, by choosing to do something, is she impinging on her own rights? I understand that France is aiming for a state that won’t be affected by extremist beliefs…but this is taking things way too far. People should be allowed to wear what they want so long as it doesn’t harm other people. Wearing a headscarf doesn’t harm others and it is a personal choice.

    If they’re worried about headscarves in the context of oppression they should examine every situation through a different lense. You cannot generalise all women who wear the headscarf just as you cannot generalise all people who choose to wear sneakers or overalls.

  • Nissa

    Muslims are told to integrate, participate, be more French or British etc. but what people really want is for us to disappear. Blend in. Don’t be different because different is scary.

    It isn’t her headscarf that is holding her back- it is these bigots. She is a brave woman and I pray she is treated with the respect she deserves.

  • Ustadh

    I second this. Ilham is an inspiration, this is what being active in society and holding to your beliefs is about. This is so threatening to the French Establishment and society because it refutes their weak as sand arguments against the veil and exposes the ludicrous nature of their extreme secularism.

  • Yusuf

    THIS is a brave woman. Not charlatans like Sultan and Darwish. And she’s running for a leftist party. French chauvinists are outraged over a piece of cloth. *shakes head*

  • Sir David

    A very brave women , I suspect there will be many others as long as the French state supresses religion .To reduce some one to only seeing their dress sence and ignoring their right to have opinions just because they wear a scarf or veil shows they have difficulty with thinking of people as equals . It seems socially acceptable in France to judge a pesron by their scarf, what next the colour of there skin ? Or that they wear a wig or scull cap ? The thin end of the wedge as we say round here.

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