France: Senators vote to ban veils in sports competitions

The French Senate has voted in favor of banning the wearing of the hijab in sports competitions, arguing that neutrality is a requirement on the playing field.

France’s senate voted late Tuesday in favor of amending a proposed law that would make wearing “conspicuous religious symbols prohibited” to participate in events and competitions run by affiliated organizations. organized by sports groups.

In their text, the senators made it clear that the amendment aims to ban “the wearing of the veil during sporting competitions.” They added that the hijab could jeopardize the safety of athletes wearing it as they practice their discipline.

The amendment proposed by the right-wing group Les Republicains was approved by 160 votes in favor and 143 against. A committee consisting of members from the Senate and House should now assemble to find compromises on the text before it is published, meaning the amendment could still be removed.

It is unclear whether the ban will be implemented for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The French sport ministry was not immediately available for comment.

The vote comes a year after lawmakers in France’s lower house of parliament passed a bill to increase surveillance of mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to protect France from Islamic extremists. and promote respect for French values ​​- one of the turning points of President Emmanuel Macron’s projects.

With France bloodied by terrorist attacks, few would disagree that radicalization is a danger. But critics also see the law as a political ploy aimed at luring rightists to Macron’s centrist party ahead of this year’s presidential election.

In their amendment, the senators said that every citizen is free to practice his religion, but stressed that one should refrain from bringing up his differences.

“Today, there is legal uncertainty regarding the wearing of religious symbols, and the state needs to clearly define the rules,” the amendment was voted on by the senators. “If the wearing of the veil is not explicitly banned, we could see the emergence of community sports.

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