No hijab for French athletes at Paris 2024, the UN recalls its opposition in principle

The United Nations (UN) recalled on Tuesday (September 26th) its opposition in principle to imposing on women what they should wear or not, reacting to the ban on French athletes wearing the Islamic veil at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the name of secularism.

The hijabeuses collective in front of the Senate in France in January 2022. AFP - BERTRAND GUAY

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"In general, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights believes that no one should impose on a woman what she should or should not wear," OHCHR spokeswoman Marta Hurtado said in response to a question at the regular UN press briefing in Geneva on Sunday (September 24th) by the French Minister of Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

The France attached to a "regime of strict secularism"

The minister had explained in a political program the attachment of the French government "to a regime of strict secularism, strictly applied in the field of sport. What does that mean? It means the prohibition of any form of proselytism, it means the absolute neutrality of the public service, so that the representatives of our delegations, in our France teams, will not wear the veil.


Ms. Hurtado recalled that the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women obliges all parties - in this case the France - to take "all appropriate measures necessary to modify any social or cultural model based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of either sex.


"But these discriminatory practices can have harmful consequences," she stressed, which is why "according to international human rights standards, restrictions on the expression of religion or belief, such as the choice of clothing, are acceptable only in very specific circumstances that respond proportionately and necessarily to legitimate public security concerns. of public order, public health or morality.


Ban on the wearing of hijab in women's football

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) "is on a logic that consists in apprehending the wearing of the veil not as a cultic factor but as a cultural factor," acknowledged the French minister, who recalled that the French position was based on a decision of the Council of State, the supreme French administrative judge.

At the end of June, the Council of State upheld the ban on wearing the hijab in women's football. In a judicial epilogue to a new case related to religious symbols in the public space, a recurring subject of debate in France, the Council of State ruled that the French Football Federation (FFF) could enact the rules it considers necessary for the "smooth running" of matches and was, as such, justified in prohibiting the wearing of the hijab on the fields.

With AFP

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Olympics 2024
  • France
  • Religion