Council of Europe Campaign posters promoting respect for Islamic women who wear headscarves were scrapped following French criticism.
One advert slogan read: “Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in Hijab.”
Many French politicians condemned the message, arguing that hijabs did not represent freedom.
Former member of the French National Assembly Sarah El Haïry said on LCI TV: “Wearing a headscarf is encouraged in the campaign’s video. We condemn this. France conveyed its disapproval of this campaign (to the Council of Europe) and the campaign was canceled.”
El Haïry went on to argue that a poster, which showed a split image of one woman wearing a hijab and one without, encouraged women to wear headscarves.
2022 National Rally candidate Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter: “This European communication in favor of the Islamist veil is scandalous and indecent as millions of women courageously fight against this enslavement, including in France.”
“It is when women remove the veil that they become free, not the other way around!”
Cette communication européenne en faveur du voile islamiste est scandaleuse et indécente alors que des millions de femmes se battent avec courage contre cet asservissement, y compris en France.
C’est quand les femmes retirent le voile qu’elles deviennent libres pas l’inverse ! https://t.co/Zvn1Z6GENC
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) November 2, 2021
The Council of Europe said in an interview with the BBC that Tweets had been deleted “while we reflect on a better presentation of this project.”
The source material for the campaign was inspired by two online workshops completed in September and was organised with Femyso, a forum of Muslim youth organisations across Europe.
A Council of Europe spokesperson said the language in the campaign, “reflected individual statements from people who took part in one of the project’s workshops.”
President of Femyso, Hande Taner defended the campaign against the French backlash in a recent BBC interview.
Taner said it was “really sad that the efforts of minority youth are being attacked and undermined” by politicians.
She also said that the campaign is still on, but, “as for why the tweet was deleted, I can’t speak on behalf of the Council of Europe.”
“(The criticism was) another example of how the rights of Muslim women are non-existent to those who claim to represent or protect notions such as liberty, equality and freedom,” Taner continued.
#EqualTreatmentForEveryone Every person should be free to choose what they wear and still have equal opportunity to education. Wearing a hijab is a choice and human right #WECAN4HRS So, #LetMeChoose @CoE_Antidiscrim @femyso @ENAREurope @EUParl_EN pic.twitter.com/MFFxGbuIWM
— europeanmuslimwomen (@euromuslimwomen) October 28, 2021
The accomodation of Islamic people into France has been a controversial political issue as France has the highest Islamic population in Europe , approximately 5 million, and a rising culture of right-wing nationalism.
Full-face headscarves have been banned in France since 2011.
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