Vogue France angers some Muslim women with ‘yes to the headscarf’ Instagram post

Written by Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

VogueFrance came under fire after posting a message on social media that many users said was offensive to Muslim women in an increasingly public culture Islamophobia in France.
Share a Photo on Friday’s Instagram of actress and model Julia Fox wearing a piece of fabric wrapped around her head, the outlet accompanied it with the caption “yes to the headscarf.”

The caption has since been edited to remove that line, but Vogue France did not acknowledge the change.

The photo was released as part of a montage featuring Fox and her boyfriend, rapper Kanye West, at Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris. Two of the photos showed West wearing a balaclava through which only his eyes were visible.

“Yes to the headscarf – those few words were so simple,” French-Moroccan model and activist Hanan Houachmi told CNN via video call. “Yet we have begged, waited and fantasized about the day we will hear them, for us as hijabi women.”

Houachmi said the hijab had been “reduced to a mere accessory”, with Fox, who is white and non-Muslim, able to wear a headscarf as part of a “trend”, while the hijab, according to Houachmi, is seen by the French government as “the uniform of terrorists”.

In 2011, France became the first country in Europe to ban all face-covering clothing in public spaces, including balaclavas, masks, burqas and niqabs. Several other countries, including Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Denmark followed with its own bans, partial bans and local bans on face coverings.

Jean-Francois Cope, the former head of deputies of France’s then ruling UMP party, is seen at the National Assembly in Paris May 11, 2010 before a vote on a burqa ban. Credit: Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, the French Senate also voted to ban the hijab for female athletes, although the measure now has to be voted on in France’s lower house. President Emmanuel Macron and his party oppose the ban. And last year a decision to ban anyone under the age of 18 from wearing the hijab in public was rejected by members of the National Assembly.

Many users cited Vogue’s choice of words under these circumstances as particularly insensitive for the French edition, given politicians’ efforts to crack down on the hijab, niqab and burqa.

CNN contacted Vogue France for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

“It’s almost funny, to be honest, because they make fun of us, insult us and reduce us to objects,” 18-year-old Chaïma Benaicha, who lives in northeastern France, told CNN via Twitter messages. “But when it’s a white woman doing it and not a Muslim, it’s trendy and something new in fashion even if wearing the hijab is not something you do to please people.”

Benaicha, who started wearing the hijab at the age of 14, said she received racist and Islamophobic comments at first, and told CNN she found it strange that wearing the niqab was “frowned upon” then that wearing a balaclava is “stylish” and “aesthetically pleasing to people.”

“People have tried to take my hijab off in the street many times. I find it inhumane,” Sarah, an 18-year-old French Muslim who wouldn’t give her last name, told CNN via messages. Twitter.

Protesters against Islamophobia Place de la République in Paris on October 19, 2019.

Protesters against Islamophobia Place de la République in Paris on October 19, 2019. Credit: Abaca Press/Sipa USA/AP

Sarah, a convert to Islam who lives in the commune of Évian-les-Bains in southeastern France and started wearing the hijab four months ago, said the Vogue caption France was “racist” and “shameful”, adding: “there is no other word for it.”

The furor that accompanied France’s proposed hijab ban for minors last year – as well as for mothers accompanying children on school trips – has also led to international awareness of anti-Muslim sentiment in France.

“I think it’s very indicative of the general type of thinking in France when it comes to the headscarf and Islam,” British writer and journalist Aisha Rimi said in a video call, adding that she was irritated by the lack of “tone recognition” by Vogue France. deafness of the post.”

Citing the example of Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala Outfitwhich covered her entire face and was black from head to toe, Rimi said the reality TV star was “praised” for her innovative look while “Muslim women who wear burqas are constantly vilified and dehumanised”.

“I can think of other hijab-wearing Muslim women who are also models that they could have used the same caption for, but that would never have been the case,” Rimi told CNN of Vogue’s remarks. France.

Houachmi – who is one such model, having previously appeared on the cover of Grazia Arabia wearing a hijab – said she found it encouraging that many of those who spoke about the legend did not wear a hijab and were often not Muslim, but that Vogue France still had “a long way to go” in terms of representing women wearing the hijab.

“When you turn the pages of a Vogue France, it doesn’t reflect the France of today,” she said. “That’s my problem with that.”

Top image: A street style shot of Julia Fox wearing a headscarf in Paris at the couture shows.