football. veil of sedition

The controversy over the burkini allowed in the swimming pools of Grenoble is once again touching on the hijab, which extremists of all stripes have described as a symbol of the Islamization of society. For this reason, at the expense of the law, the Football Association continues to ban its use in football stadiums. The Hijabeuses are fighting for the right to play.

“Every time, we are brought back to our villains, when we want to be considered mathematicians.” Inas, a member of the Steering Committee for Hijab, a group created in May 2020, has a calm and composed voice. For more than a year, the latter has been sincerely trying to educate the public for the right to walk on a football field to compete with the headscarf. A campaign centered around three axes: Highlighting injustice by denouncing discrimination. Giving a voice to those women who are often brushed aside; And you have a critical and analytical outlook with scientific backing.

This approach was started in June 2019 by researcher Haifa Talili, who brought the topic to the table by inviting specialists to the Diversity Center of the Ujrah Network, in parallel with the FIFA Women’s World Cup. “From there, I was able to conduct a first phase of interviews with the key people involved, the people excluded from the earth because of their veils,” Ines explains.

A second event took place six months later, in January 2020. A panel discussion led by the Citizen Alliance (specializing in ‘community organizing’ methods for the federation), as well as the organizations Women Win and Fare Network. Seventy women were invited to share their testimonies and experiences. “There, we told ourselves that we should no longer remain silent and be proactive to bring about change.”, Comments Ines. A few months later, within the framework of the Alliance citoyenne, the headscarf was born, with a common ambition: freedom of expression and to allow these women to exercise, like the others.

Women from all walks of life, veiled or not?

During a solidarity match with the Peanuts Sluts, a women’s soccer club committed to the LGBT cause. © Marth Minaret

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a group of veiled women who fight for their flock, but much more. “Within our group, there are Muslims, non-Muslims, believers or non-believers, of all origins and from all walks of life.” Like their message, they all advocate diversity, tolerance and mutual assistance.

The headscarf also represents, to date, more than 170 activists fighting against discrimination. Their Instagram account (leshijabeuses) has over 5000 subscribers. “Many women play football in clubs and want to participate in competitions and matches, Ines series. They are motivated, they train, they are motivated, but they are not considered athletes. As long as there was no evolution, they would remain excluded from Earth. We want to respect everyone’s right to exercise. Experiencing this exclusion is very difficult, so being in a group, being able to talk about it, allows us to put words to the ills, to step back, and seek solutions with all stakeholders in a spirit of brotherhood. »

The challenge is here: to succeed in changing mindsets with footballers, in particular the French Federation (FFF) that sticks to its positions. “They forbid hijab with the principle of neutrality, secularism, safety and cleanliness, but these arguments are not valid, Ines reveals. If we return to the law, to the very definition of secularism, we will not prevent the girl from entering the football field, this is contrary to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. » She also stresses that arguments about safety and hygiene are hard to hear, when certified sports hijabs are now commercially available and worn in many competitions around the world.

A true social issue for extremists of all stripes, veiled women are finding themselves marginalized, at a time when the Football Association is proudly announcing a plan to feminize football. “We would like to be included, Hijabeuse recognizes. It should be a sport for all women without discrimination! »

The veiled women continue their “match” for the veil

Improvised training at the union headquarters

Instead of getting involved in the legal field – “Even if we win, will the referees and coaches be trained?” Hijab wants to change mentalities by raising awareness through events. In one year of mobilization, more than six matches were organized with the women’s teams prior to the Grand Tournament* which brought together 16 teams and over 200 participants.

On July 23, about two dozen of them were in the hall of the French Football Federation (FFF) headquarters in tracksuits, with the Champions League anthem in the background, for a bit of training and a chat in this emblematic setting. Organized, organized and all moving in the same direction, Hijab realizes that change will not happen overnight: “We know changing the rules is like a marathon, it’s a long-term job, Enas acknowledges. For this, prejudices must be dismantled, public awareness raised, and the veiled Muslim woman shown can exercise like everyone else. Haifa Talili’s research work allows us to take an objective and scientific look at these experiences and these discourses in order to come up with effective recommendations. Because a successful feminization plan can only be done with all women. You must begin with the girls who have suffered this discrimination, to put this injustice at the service of justice. »

Championship for all

On June 13, in La Courneuve (Seine-Saint-Denis), Hijab organized its first 100% women’s tournament, titled #footballpourtoutes, as part of the Fare People Week of Fare Network, an NGO that fights against discrimination and racism on the soccer field. With 16 teams and more than 200 people, the event aimed to promote football for all women, regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic and social origins, in order to change the debate and statutes of the Football Association. Gathering is marked under the sign of liberation through sport, self-transcendence and participation.

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