do we have the right to exist ?


After the « Decathlon » outcry you couldn’t have missed in France, no one has ever so actively participated in the coercion of women, under the disguise of secularism and feminism, just because they wear a headscarf. Cee, a Muslim young woman, takes a heartfelt stand against the discriminations she faces.

Decathlon, burqa, “burkini”, niqab, headscarf at university, at school, bandanas, long skirts, school assistants… Do you think this list is too long? We do too.

I’d like to say that the last public outcry aiming Muslims astonishes me but it only tires me. We live in society in which control over female bodies occurs. Smile, apply some make up but not too much, wear sexy clothes but not too sexy, free menstrual products? Not possible. Be slim and slender… Oh no, be short and curvy now. But not too much.

Women put up with all these comments. Some must put up with even more comments when they are part of several minorities. We, Muslim women who choose to cover our hair, are a part of these women.

For many years, we have been bored to death by the eternal rhetoric of the headscarf being imposed, never chosen. It is the case sometimes and women in this situation have obviously the right to be helped with kindness. However, I really doubt the sincerity of the headscarf detractors on this matter.

We’ve been told that studying would emancipate us as women. So we studied. Then we’ve been denied the most fundamental right that is education. Headscarf or education? In France you must pick one.

We’ve been told that playing a sport would emancipate us. So we played sports. Then we’ve been denied the access to some gyms, to some gear. “It’s not sanitary to practice with a headscarf”. So we created suitable clothing. But it’s not enough. Sport or headscarf? In France you must pick one.

We’ve been told that participating in social/ civic activities would emancipate us and make us “fit in”. We’ve been cleared to escort children on school trips, we’ve volunteered at “Les Restos du Coeur”, we’ve created charities. We were thrown out of them. Headscarf or civic and social activities?

We’ve been guaranteed that religion is private and personal. We’ve been to mosques or stayed home. Go out, free yourself! But not here.

Marianne, you whose head is covered, tell me, do we still have the right to exist?

written by Cee, translated by Emeline