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Hijacking the Hijab

A Decathalon store - France24

A Decathalon birkiniA Decathalon birkini

Hajib from Decathalon  Hajib from Decathalon

A tichel headwrap (jewish religious head coverings)

Abrahamic religious dress for womenAbrahamic religious dress for women

Decathalon capitulation press releaseDecathalon capitulation press release

I was just talking about birkinis recently with someone when several articles popped up that Decathalon, a large French retailer of sports and recreation clothing and equipment, is causing quite a controversy over its new line of Muslim women’s clothing. Muslim women can now enjoy jogging wearing a special hijab (a head, face or body covering), something their Moroccan customers asked for.

The Muslim market is a big one for such retailers and manufacturers, such as H&M, Uniqlo and Nike. But, just because the French are so Islamophobic, they don’t think a French brand should be promoting these new garments. Here we go again!

This personally outrages me. Out of one side of their French mouths, they hold rallies all across France denouncing anti-semitism (meaning anti-Jewish), and out of the other side comes another form of anti-semitism (meaning anti-Muslim). Do they not see that the prejudices are one and the same?

I get that they aren’t happy about how Muslim women may be treated in their own religion and culture, but have they looked at orthodox Judaism? Their practices are much the same, even if you believe that Jewish women have a more positive and independent role than Muslim women. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but a head-covering (a “tichel”) worn after marriage is just one of the similarities. There are many others, and most of those women on both sides will tell you that they abide by these rules because they want to, not because they are forced to. Look again at the two religions and you will see how very similar they are, like siblings, in a constant rivalry.

Not just the politicians, but French feminine activists are complaining, too. They claim it “promotes “sexual apartheid.” Interesting. There are lots of things that do just that, that they don’t complain about. Count anything that is sold more for women than for men, or vice-versa, but just because it claims to be “for” one or the other, doesn’t mean they both can’t make use of the item. Where’s the “apartheid” in women’s cosmetics designed to make a woman more attractive than men, for example? Or are they also opposed to that?

The State Council overturned the ban on birkinis in the summer of 2016, as they should have, and they need to all calm down now and go back to just doing business the free enterprise way. This reaction shows a racism that I would think the Macron administration would normally want to quell. Women should have the choice of wearing their birkinis or hijabs or wigs or whatever they want to wear without interference of the government who see these as symbols of anti-nationalism.

For a bit, Decathalon was not budging regardless of the controversy and intended on offering these garments designed for this particular market as intended. If anything, the controversy will lead to many more sales, thanks to the free publicity, too. But, sadly they caved. A wave of insults and threats sent them running for cover and they have taken them off the site and out of the stores as a result of the outcry. Decathalon, I am grossly disappointed in you!

I am a feminist and strongly believe in my rights as a woman to be equal to a man’s. If I want to wear make-up, I can. If I want to wear a bikini, or a birkini, I can. If I want to wear a hijab or a wig, I can. Tell me, can a man  wear make-up or aftershave if he wants? Can he wear a Speedo or a wetsuit if he wants? Can he wear a toupee or a kipah if he wants? Of course he can, and no one is going to complain about a “sexual apartheid.”

“Oy vey” is what I have to say to this! Or should I say “yaa zalameh?”

For interesting reading about headcoverings, see worldhijabday.com/.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - Paris, France

Adrian Leeds
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