UN opposes ban on French athletes wearing hijab

UN opposes ban on French athletes wearing hijab

The UN reiterated on Tuesday September 26 its opposition in principle to imposing on women what they must wear or not, reacting to the ban on French athletes from wearing the Islamic veil at the Olympic Games in France in the name of laicity.

“In general, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights believes that no one should dictate to a woman what she should or should not wear,” said high commission spokesperson Marta Hurtado in response to a question at the regular UN press briefing in Geneva on Sunday’s statements by French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra.

The minister explained on Sunday in the program “ Dimanche en politique ” on France 3 the government’s attachment “to a regime of strict secularism, strictly applied in the field of sport. What does it mean ? This means the prohibition of any form of proselytism, it means the absolute neutrality of the public service, therefore that the representatives of our delegations, in our French teams, will not wear the veil. »

“Cultural factor”

Marta Hurtado recalled that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires all parties – in this case France – to take “all appropriate measures necessary to modify any social or cultural model based on the idea of ​​inferiority or superiority of one or the other sex. »

“But these discriminatory practices can have harmful consequences,” she stressed, this is why, “Under international human rights standards, restrictions on the expression of religions or beliefs, such as choice of clothing, are only acceptable in very specific circumstances that proportionally and necessary address concerns legitimate in matters of public security, public order, public health or morality. »

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) “is based on a logic which consists of understanding the wearing of the veil not as a religious factor but as a cultural factor”, recognized 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 maintained the ban on the wearing of the hijab in women’s football.

In a judicial epilogue to a new case linked to religious symbols in public spaces, 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 At ” the good proceedings “ matches and was, as such, justified in prohibiting the wearing of the hijab on the pitches.

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