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New York Times: Muslim Frenchwomen Struggle With Discrimination


Everyday, there is something horrible out of France.

WISSOUS, France — Malek Layouni was not thinking about her Muslim faith, or her head scarf, as she took her excited 9-year-old son to an amusement site near Paris. But, as it turned out, it was all that mattered.

Local officials blocked her path to the inflatable toys on a temporary beach, pointing at regulations that prohibit dogs, drunks and symbols of religion. And that meant barring women who wear head scarves.

Mrs. Layouni still blushes with humiliation at being turned away in front of friends and neighbors, and at having no answer for her son, who kept asking her, “What did we do wrong?”

More than 10 years after Francepassed its first anti-veil law restricting young girls from wearing veils in public schools, the head coverings of observant Muslim women, from colorful silk scarves to black chadors, have become one of the most potent flash points in the nation’s tense relations with its vibrant and growing Muslim population.

Mainstream politicians continue to push for new measures to deny veiled women access to jobs, educational institutions and community life. They often say they are doing so for the benefit of public order or in the name of laïcité, the French term for the separation of church and state.


France, where Muslims make up an estimated 8 percent of the population, has long displayed discomfort with Muslim women who cover their heads.CreditDmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

But critics say these efforts, rather than promoting a sense of secular inclusion, have encouraged rampant discrimination against Muslims in general and veiled women in particular. The result has been to fuel a sense among many Muslims that France — which celebrates Christian holidays in public schools — is engaging in a form of state racism.

The ban, some critics argue, also plays into the hands of Islamists, who are eager to drive a deeper wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West.

So far, France has passed two laws, one in 2004 banning veils in public elementary and secondary schools, and another, enacted in 2011, banning full face veils, which are worn by only a tiny portion of the population.

But observant Muslim women in France, whose head coverings can vary from head scarves tied loosely under the chin to tightly fitted caps and wimple-like scarves that hide every strand of hair, say the constant talk of new laws has made them targets of abuse, from being spat at to having their veils pulled or being pushed when they walk on the streets.

In some towns, mothers wearing head scarves have been prevented from picking up their children from school or from chaperoning class outings. One major discount store has been accused of routinely searching veiled customers.

Some women have even been violently attacked. In Toulouse recently, a pregnant mother wearing a head scarf had to be hospitalized after being beaten on the street by a young man who called her a “dirty Muslim.”

Statistics collected by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia, a watchdog group, show that in the last two years 80 percent of the anti-Muslim acts involving violence and assault were directed at women, most of them veiled.

Read the entire article…

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    Yeah. Genocide “for the higher good” When I hear such talk…

    Do tell, do you agree with the Serb genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade of the 1990s? No, don’t tell. Look at the photo below. As such I see you.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Mudslimes … “Mudbloods” … clearly shows of what mindset such people are.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    It’s just bullying. I hate people who do that. They should be hammered into the ground.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Ever heard the story of the Bosniak kid who went to the grocery store to buy something for her mother and the Serb shopkeeper told her “soon we will be rid of the likes of you”? Or the Bosniak schoolgirl from Višegrad who often went to school on the same bus as her elderly Serb neighbor? And when the war began and the local Serbs said it was open season on Muslims he donned a cetnik uniform and sough her out and held her as his sex slave. In the above case the flight attendant and the other people in the plane didn’t know the victim presonally, but here they had been neighbors and known each other for years; and all of a sudden, from neighbors, friends even, they turn into mad dogs. That’s much, much worse. Oh, I know, it’s not an exclusively Serb behavion. I mean, in Nazi Germany some people turned on their Jewish neighbors and friends just the same. In Rwanda most assuredly too.

    But I hate it when such people fall for such stereotypes and think “All Muslism are terrorists”.

    Cartoons by such as Westergaard do not help. Freedom of expression is one thing. Smear is another. When smear causes acts of ethnic hate and violence, evenif it be only vebal violence then it becomes a crime.

    I have been told that in such cases you must point out to people how wrong they are in their simplistic assumptions. But they wouldn’t listen anyway, and so Instead I have the notion to try and rememebre teh faces of people who would offend me or my wife or my kid in such a way as described above. And then seek them out and slap their faces. Or kick their behinds. Or both.

    In my opinion people who show me hostility just for my being what I am, without me ever having done anything to them personally, deserve to get the thrashing of a lifetime, or all teeth loosened, at the very least. But unfortunately it doesn’t help that I’m not 210 cm tall and 1 meter across the shoulders.

    Oh sure, such a reaction would, in their eyes, confirm tht stereotypical views they hold. But then, stupidity in combination with evil HAS to be punished. And people who love to bully and harass others should be BROKEN! Physicaly but especially psychically. And be made an example of.

    And that includes people who bully others on the internet (Jacob R, anybody?). Because under protection of anonimity they show all their evil and savagery unrestrained.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    The problem is that there are people around who tried to make that threat very real. Srebrenica, Keraterm, Omarska etc; Visegrad, Zvornik, anyone?

    Is that how I should see Christians, especially Sertb Orthodox ones. Don’t ask, going by their comments that’s exactly the way they want me to see them.

    That’s why they did all what they did in 1992-95, so that there would be eternal enmity between Serbs and Bosniaks.
    And today they whine aboutthe Serb victims. They convenientlky drop under th erug the fact that Serbia was the attacker. And not the victim.

  • Jekyll

    Michel Houellebecq Soumission

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Wow, that was GREAT!
    I must remember it next time anyone tries to offend me with genocidal hate speech; after all I must keep in mind that most of those keyboard warriors would at best do very badly if faced with a real situation.

    However it is so difficult when I’m reminded of genocide. Nevertheless I have seen the forbearance and stoicism of many of my Bosniak brothers and sisters in face if insult and injury, I’d be well advised to follow their example.
    So I will in the future try to avoid expressing violent thoughts, difficult as it may be. Anyway, even though I’m not sure if I’m made of the stuff heroes are made of, I can only say that if I should have to face violent death at the hands of my enemies, I can only pray to God that He gives me the moral strength to face it as gallantly as the defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto did. And also, that is the best advice I can give my Bosniak, Albanian or Rohingya brothers and sisters.

  • Friend of Bosnia

    Just goes to show once again that fear is a bad counselor.

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