Open letter to French Women's Rights Minister Laurence Rossignol

Published 11.04.2016 00:55
Updated 11.04.2016 10:37

The French women's rights minister's referring to Muslim women who wear the headscarf as 'negroes who support slavery,' is simply the sign of a fascist, racist and venomous mindset

Madame Laurence Rossignol, your recent remarks labeling women who wear headscarves as "negroes who support slavery" caused real frustration and anger among Muslim women who wear the headscarf as a requirement of their religious beliefs.

I would like to draw your attention to the danger of such stigmatizing remarks in a society like France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe. As far as I know, there are 6 million Muslims in your country.

Muslim women who practice the directives of Quran and wear headscarves feel free when they are so dressed. The real freedom comes from the feeling that the directive of their beliefs is being implemented. A duty is being done. Prayers will be said in accordance with the Quran and there is a feeling of deep serenity.

Islam as a religion is a system of beliefs that protects women more than any other religion. I am not talking about misinterpretations of the religion, but referencing the pure text of the Quran. So when you say "slavery" and "headscarf" in the same sentence, you ignore a whole belief system and its reference to women's place in society.

In our country, nearly 10 years ago, women who wore headscarves were not permitted to attend universities as students and continue their education or take part in official institutions in an attempt to limit the free participation of Muslim women in daily life. This policy was a real sign of fascist ideology, which, in fact, is akin to slavery to create small robots in the same shape. Fortunately, our country overcame the period of discrimination toward women who wear headscarves, and currently in politics, bureaucracy and academic life, Muslim women can find their place.

Headscarves are a more visible sign of Islam, and I know that some politicians in Europe have a problem with the visibility of Islam in their society. But until now I thought that it was far-right, fascist and racist politicians of some European states. I am still surprised to see such remarks coming from a politician like you who is active in combating racism. I am still trying to understand this dilemma.

For Muslim women, just like any group of women in your society, I think the issues of being active in working life, educated, taking an important role in social life and to have a word in history should be discussed more than their free choices. They should also to be permitted to look after their children freely as mothers, and not be discriminated against by the power of justice, which puts aside the rights of others such as foreigners, refugees and Muslims.

I will not ask you to be empathetic toward Muslim women, but just to respect their free choice.

And I hope you understood the frustration of the 400 women who applied for justice concerning your remarks as well as the dissatisfaction of millions of Muslim women all over the world. I hope a common understanding will be found between you and the 400 women who filed a complaint against you on Friday. Unless your remarks were not a part of an election campaign, since your Prime Minister Minister Manuel Valls stated recently that the 2017 French presidential election will be over cultural and identity battles. As we have witnessed in many cases such as in the case of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a policy that provokes differences to get more supports will bring a total zero at the end of the day.

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