While the government has banned the wearing of the abaya in schools in the name of secularism, the ban on this long traditional dress, whose religious nature is debated, has not gone unnoticed in the Arab and Muslim world.
The press from the Gulf and countries on the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean oscillate between incomprehension of French secularism and accusations of Islamophobia.
Secularism, a French passion
In Saudi Arabia, where the wearing of the black abaya has long been the norm, the newspapers see it as an extreme expression of secularism. Daily life Asharq Al-Awsatwho devoted an entire podcast to the subject, castigates a conception of secularism which would no longer be a form of “neutrality” but the manifestation of a “hostility towards believers”.
For the Jeddah Postthe objective of the French government would be to ensure that Muslims “melt until dissolved” in French society which promotes assimilation.
This is also the case of the Saudi channel Al-Arabiya who perceives in the prohibition of the abaya a “political and religious controversy which is not about to end” and which highlights a “conflict between Islam and French secularism”.
In Tunisia, the media Assaba reports comments by Emmanuel Macron – which cannot be found in French – according to which teachers would be called upon to be “Knights of the Republic” and to “defend secularism”.
” War “
They are not the only ones to use such vocabulary. More offensive, the pan-Arab media also use warlike rhetoric to cover this ban. “France declares war on the abaya and qamis in schools”estimates the radio Arabic.
“After the war against the hijab, that against the abaya”title for its part Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
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— القدس العربي AlqudsAlarabi (@alqudsalarabi) September 4, 2023
The pan-Arab daily accuses the French government of transforming schools into “arena of identity conflicts” and policies. He sees this decision as an offensive against Muslims and predicts that the next step will be to ask all “Mohammed, Ahmed, Ali or Omar” to change first name.
For its part, the Qatari channel Al Jazeera denounces a “eminently racist decision”. “How far will the clothing police go? »pretends to question the organ close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which adds that“along with Afghanistan and Iran, France is the only country to legislate on what women can or cannot wear.”
” Pandora’s box “
In Lebanon, the site Al Mayadeenpro-Hezbollah and hostile to the West, perceives in the proscription of the abaya and the qamis a “political decision” on the part of Emmanuel Macron for “ally with the right and divide the left” but who risks“open Pandora’s box”.
Away from the Arab world, on the Turkish side, the press is the herald of an Islam supposedly under attack. The Arabic-speaking Turkish daily Daily Sabah thus denounces “the constant harshness of France towards minorities, especially Muslims, both in its history and in its political philosophy”as well as pressures to “submit to the Republic”. He sees in it the sign that “anti-Muslim laws will multiply in the years to come”.