In France, the veil is considered both the symbol of Islamism and Islamophobia.
It is a piece of clothing that causes great controversy and disputes in the land of enlightenment every year.
With so much noise, one legitimately wonders, “What is it about the hijab that bothers the European?”
On a purely psychological level, for me, the answer is given by Marlene Schiappa – the former French minister of citizenship – who said in 2020 that “France is the country of libertinage.”
Sexual freedom and debauchery are so ingrained in the French mind that it is intolerable for them that a woman deprives them of the spectacle of her charm.
As proof of my interpretation, the word “beurette” – a vulgar French word designating an Arab woman – is the most researched category in France on adult websites.
Éric Zemmour was right when he said more than ten years ago, in a moment of insight, that the real problem of the French with the hijab was endogamy. The hijab signals that this veiled woman reserves herself for a Muslim man and that she is inaccessible to disbelievers.
So is this the reason why 65% of French people favor banning the veil in the street, according to a survey by the CSA institute?
In detail, 35% of those surveyed said they were “totally in favor” of banning the veil in the public space, while 25% said they were “somewhat in favor.” On the other hand, 24% of respondents are “rather against” and 16% categorically refuse to ban this religious sign in the street and other public spaces.
Another lesson of this survey is that this proposal is more supported by men than women. Thus, 65% of male respondents strongly favor banning the Islamic veil in the street, against 56% of women.
Behind the Veil
The rhetoric on both the left and the right doesn’t help make things more transparent. The political class itself seems confused on this issue.
Politicians of leftist sensibilities tend to say that hijab is degrading for women and expresses inequality between the sexes. Those who lean to the right say that it is a political banner, a symbol of the Islamists, who seek to colonize the French visual space.
Contrast this with what the Quran says quite clearly is the true wisdom of the hijab:
And when you ˹believers˺ ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a barrier. This is purer for your hearts and theirs. Quran S33:53
The wisdom behind the veil is explicit. The veil is a tool of modesty, helping men and women to keep themselves free from depravity.
So why don’t the disbelievers recognize this?
Muslim reactions to European politics often categorically conclude that these anti-hijab outbursts are due to a blind hatred of the French people towards Islam. This seems reasonable. We all recognize the strongly anti-religious and anti-Islamic sentiment of the European masses.
But, let me temper this view.
The real question is: “How could the Islamophobes see the veil as a means of modesty when it has nowadays become a garish, immodest fashion statement?”
Every second, literally thousands of Muslim women post their filtered selfies on the internet. Instagram is full of photos of hijabis with made-up faces and lewd looks. Women in niqab share raunchy videos of themselves on Tik Tok and Youtube Shorts.
How do we expect Islamophobes to perceive the veil as the instrument of modesty and self-respect it is supposed to be?
These Muslim women were the first to weaponize the hijab in this way. And Muslim men are not off the hook. Where are the husbands, fathers, and brothers preventing such moral decay?
To make matters worse, many of these women have tried to wield the hijab as a political weapon.
Take, for example, the disgusting dialogue that took place between Macron and a Hijabi in Strasbourg, a few days before the elections:
Hijabi to Macron: Are you a feminist?
Macron: Yes, of course.
Hijabi: (Laughs loudly) Ah, that’s good then, sir!
Macron: No, the beautiful thing… Are you a feminist?
Hijabi: Yes, I am a feminist.
Macron: Are you for equality between men and women?
Hijabi: I am for equality between men and women.
Macron: Can I be intrusive?
Macron: Do you wear the veil by choice, or is it imposed?
Hijabi: It is by choice, totally by choice, sir.
There is a lot to be said for this conversation. But the fact is that from the start, something is wrong. How can you inspire modesty when you stand defiantly up to a man, eye to eye, in a crowd of men and women and laugh loudly?
All of this contributes to the change in non-Muslim perception of the hijab. It has become a symbol of confrontation, rage, defiance, protest, feminism, disruption, i.e., all the things that contradict modesty.
None of this is to defend the vile Islamophobic attacks on the hijab by Western politicians and people. Many of them would hate the hijab no matter what.
But we need to also exercise some degree of self-criticality. How has our community’s distortion of the message of the hijab contributed to the negative sentiments around it from non-Muslims?