Muslims constitute a sizeable minority of French citizens. Unsurprisingly, this has brought with it a fair amount of push for inclusion as well as pushback from more bigoted sectors of French society.
One of the biggest hot-button issues in the country has been over the hijab. While any full face covering, such as the burka and niqab, have been banned in the European nation since 2011, the hijab has only been subject to the same restrictions in government buildings.
Now there is a new salvo in the battle against the headscarf. A major French sportswear retailer—Decathlon—had been selling hijabs for runners.
However, the products were discontinued after public outcry.
Major French sportswear retailer Decathlon will no longer sell hijabs following a public outcry https://t.co/gi1Tlm06fR— TIME (@TIME) February 27, 2019
Sportswear brand in France launched a runner's hijab so women who want to wear hijab can run. There was a huge backlash - 500 calls and emails to complain about the product, and insults and threats to staff. So now they won't sell it. https://t.co/4KRFk9O2rR— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) February 27, 2019
The brand explicitly stated that they were discontinuing the product because of threats.
People were upset by these threats.
Some misunderstood and thought the threats were of a boycott. However the threats were of attacks on stores and violence against employees.
I don't know if you've followed the entire story, but the reason for them canceling isn't a boycott threat, but rather countless anonymous threats against them and their employees— Damascus (@zDamascus) February 26, 2019
It's a real sad story but Decathlon definitely isn't to blame here
Shame on the Govt of France for not prosecuting the abusers. This capitulation to bigotry is unacceptable.— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) February 26, 2019
Oh for pity’s sake. If you don’t like the idea of a hijab for runners, just don’t wear it. https://t.co/jnFKkva8T3— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) February 27, 2019
I find the French debate over this so impossibly tiresome. You can bang on about “laïcité” all you want, but everyone can see it’s fight for control over the bodies and lives of Muslim women. Stop telling women what to wear. The end.— Alex von Tunzelmann (@alexvtunzelmann) February 27, 2019
Alarming that the French branch of #Decathlon was forced to halt its plans to sell the sports version of the Muslim hijab in France due to racist&islamophobic threats.A highly disturbing indicator for the current level of Islamophobia in the French society.https://t.co/hkX87KMbgY— Mustafa Yeneroğlu (@myeneroglu) February 27, 2019
While countries and cultures that force women to wear a hijab may reinforce the idea of a hijab as a symbol of oppression, some Muslim women choose wear it as a tool of self-expression and empowerment.
Many were quick to point this out.
Bunch of fools, when will get it? If a woman chooses to cover her hair in sports, this is her right. Who decided one has to be half naked to be able to run? #FreedomForAll #HijabDecathlon #StopIslamophobia— Ruzayna Beegun (@RuzaynaBeegun) February 27, 2019
Are we now feeling threatened by giving women the freedom of choice for what they want to wear? Please step out of your country and build some perspective on the world with all its different cultures! #Decathlon #Hijabdecathlon #Islamophobia https://t.co/4TwYXOI9tv— Muhammad O. Khan (@dxbmok) February 27, 2019
"We are in the 21st century and in a country where everyone is free of their clothing choices.— Pascal (@PascAntho) February 27, 2019
Those who judge do not have time to love ..."#fashion @Decathlon #Hijabdecathlon pic.twitter.com/RRKHNTfQnq
Hopefully we can soon live in a world in which we can’t dictate what women wear.