Hijabi women’s football game protest banned by Paris police

The women intended to play wearing hijabs near the Assemblée nationale as a protest against plans to ban players from wearing of the headscarves at official events

A woman playing football while wearing a hijab
The protest would have seen women from the collective Les Hijabeuses play a game of football on the Esplanade des Invalides, but police banned the action
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A protest calling for women’s right to wear a hijab when they practise sport has been banned by the Paris police.

The protest, organised by the collective ‘Les Hijabeuses’, had been scheduled to take place today (Wednesday, January 9).

The collective, which counts around 100 members, had planned to play a game of football while wearing their hijabs, in front of the l'Assemblée nationale, to protest against a new amendment that aims to ban women from wearing hijabs when playing in official events.

The protest had been scheduled to take place from 16:30 to 18:30 on the Esplanade des Invalides. The group had already held a similar protest in front of the Senate on January 26.

But late yesterday (20:00, February 8), the Paris police prefecture issued a decree banning the planned protest, saying it would “be likely to cause public disorder”.

The statement said that the police feared that the stunt would “attract people other than supporters, hostile to the cause, risking clashes with the women”.

It said that the subject is “the object of intense and controversial debate…[especially] in the current pre-election climate, and within the international context”.

It concluded: “As a consequence, given the risk of public disorder as a result of this protest, as much for the safety of the protesters themselves as well as the keeping of public order, the police prefect has taken out a decree banning this protest.”

‘Democratise sport?’

Rules from la Fédération française de football ban the wearing of hijabs on its pitches, and a new amendment voted through by the Senate, which aims to “democratise sport”, suggests a ban on “the wearing of overt religious symbols” when taking part in official sports competitions.

The amendment will be debated by the Assemblée nationale today.

In a statement on Twitter, the group Les Hijabeuses wrote: “We have of course lodged a court case to contest this arbitrary decision [which is] unfair and completely disproportionate.”

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