BLOG: ‘The ban is on wearing the hijab while playing football but may as well be a ban on Muslim women as a whole’05 October 2020

EliesBenAzibisfromAllianceCitoyenne,agroupingofcommunityorganisationsthatgivesvoicetopeoplefromminoritybackgroundsinFrance.Elieswritesabouttheirinvolvementinthisyear’s#FootballPeopleweeks.

“We are running a project to address the ongoing issue of Islamophobia in France. We have seen how the country has been affected by the rise of the far-right, the weakening of the rule of law (the state of emergency we have, restriction on civil liberties, etc) and the worrying normalisation of xenophobic rhetoric at all levels.

Taking this into account, Les Hijabeuses, a group of Muslim women partnered Alliance Citoyenne who want to play football, will hold a panel discussion which speaks about the rules which have been enforced by the French Football Federation (FFF) that sadly exclude women who wear hijabs from football. The ban is on wearing the hijab while playing football but may as well be a ban on Muslim women as a whole.

We will also run a tournament with local teams that helps to raise awareness and helps to lobby and pressure the French Football Federation to consider changing these rules, making it possible for Muslim women to practise football.

Separately we will organise a roundtable with a sociologist, Haifa Tlili, that looks at discrimination in sport towards Muslim women that live in the Banlieue (Paris suburbs).

We also plan to organise a match in Echirolles, which will be an opportunity for us to engage women in football and become involved with Les Hijabeuses, and then Lyon, which is sadly well known to be a strongehold for far-right organisations. Organising a match there shows a strong message that we are fighting for equality.

Being part of the #FootballPeople weeks allows our campaign to be part of an international initiative, and find more ways to fight islamophobia within sport.

We have to put international pressure on the FFF regarding its intolerant rules, especially the hijab ban. As long as the debate remains inside our borders, our argument is weak. Putting France under the spotlight as an outlier, because the hijab is not banned in any other country, and using the #FootballPeople weeks helps to take this issue to a mainstream audience.

Partners, such as Fare will help women to spread this fight for equality and add further weight to this struggle for acceptance.”