‘When will there be a Sharia Day? Stoning? Slavery?’ Muslim students at elite French university under fire for Hijab Day event
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Students at an elite Paris university sparked fierce debate Wednesday by inviting classmates to wear the Muslim head scarf for a day.
The event at Paris's Sciences Po university was held to raise awareness of treatment of women who wear the hijab, but the initiative was fiercely criticised on social media and by student union representatives.
The event was held in the wake of Prime Minister Manuel Valls' controversial statement that he wished to ban all forms of religious headscarves at French universities.
The Hijab Day Facebook page stated that the students who took part in wearing the veil for a day would 'experience the stigmatisation experienced by veiled women in France'.
'It is to raise awareness, open the debate and give the floor to women who are often debated on in public but rarely heard,' said Laetitia Demaya, one of the organisers.
The Sciences Po initiative, which trended at the top of French Twitter under the hashtag #HijabDay, drew a mixture of praise and anger.
Former agriculture minister Bruno le Maire, who now teaches at Sciences Po and is also angling for the right-wing Republicans party's presidential nomination, expressed his 'disapproval' on Twitter.
'In France women are visible. No to proselytising,' he wrote.Philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy tweeted: 'Hijab Day at Sc Po.
When will there be a sharia day? Stoning? Slavery?'
'This is a provocation and we denounce the religious character of the event,' Carla Sasiela, the head of the UNI student union, told The Local.
Her group said the event is a 'total contradiction of the values of the Republic and the respect for women's rights'.
Writing on its Facebook page, the student wing of the far-right National Front (FN) criticised an initiative coming from a 'Parisian middle class disconnected from social reality'.