France Discusses More “Secular” Legislation


Safa Hameed

During the months of April and March, France has debated new legislation that aims to tackle extremism and Islamic separatism which has long plagued France, resulting in its already growing  “Laïcité” or secular policy adopted by President Macron.

The particular law details prohibiting minors, those under the age of 18, from wearing the hijab, a Muslim hair-covering, in public, including schools and pools. Moreover, mothers accompanying their children on school trips and dropping or picking them up will not be allowed to wear headscarves. The French Senate officially voted in favor of the bill on April 8th; however, in order for the law to be put into effect, it has to be voted on by the National Assembly.

The National Assembly will likely vote against the law due to its overwhelmingly liberal members and the backlash the proposed law has received. Ever since its introduction the law has sparked outrage on social media and has introduced the popular #HandsofMyHijab, which has been used by many all over social media.

This legislation is not surprising as France has grown towards introducing more and more “anti-separatist” legislation due to a series of terrorist attacks, especially the killing of a middle school teacher, Micheal Paty.

Others, see this as a cheap shot by the conservative party of France to win back voters with “secular” legislation with the rising popularity Marie-Le Pen’s far-right party. This has included massively increased surveillance of Muslim institutions such as Mosques and Religious Sunday Schools. Other measures taken require school attendance for all children beginning at age three in order to try and stop the teaching of extremist views at home and foster secular French values, which French schools, public or private, can provide.

In March, the French government also introduced legislation that changed some pre-existing policies around the halal slaughtering of chickens which Muslims adhere to. This also sparked immense outrage on social media after Mosques in France and a Turkish news channel falsely claimed that France was banning the halal slaughtering of poultry. What was distressing for many people in addition to the supposed “banning of halal chicken” was that this legislation was being implemented right before the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. What the new French policy actually denotes is requiring animals to be unconscious while the slaughtering ritual that Muslims adhere to takes place. Because many Muslim butcherers lack the tools required for this new policy, usually stunners, this could cause a significant decrease in poultry.