European human rights video promoting ‘hijab freedom’ withdrawn after Paris complaint
The Council of Europe has removed a video from social media celebrating the Islamic veil after protests in France, where Islam and immigration are controversial political issues ahead of next year’s elections.
âBeauty is in diversity as freedom is in the hijab. . . #JOYinHIJAB “launched the slogans in a 27 second video depicting women in divided images without the veil on one side and wearing it on the other. It was produced as part of a campaign to promote tolerance and launched last week by the council’s anti-discrimination program, an organization from 47 countries that promotes democracy and human rights.
Based in the French city of Strasbourg, the council said: “These tweets have been removed and we will consider a better presentation of this project.” They were part of a joint project with the EU to tackle hate speech and raise awareness of the need for tolerance of diversity, the council added.
Sarah El HaÃ¯ry, Minister of Youth and Sports in the government of President Emmanuel Macron, claimed responsibility for the decision to withdraw the video from circulation. She told LCI television that France had made known its “extremely strong disapproval, hence the withdrawal of this campaign”.
Gabriel Attal, government spokesman, said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the campaign defied common sense “because religious freedom should not be confused with the de facto promotion of a religious symbol” . Such an âidentityâ approach was âcontrary to the freedom of conscience that France supports in all European and international forums,â said Attal.
The Islamic veil is a controversial issue in French politics. Many republicans and feminists on the right and on the left see it as a sign of religious affiliation which undermines the principle of secularism in public life and gender equality. Those who wear it say it’s a matter of personal choice.
French politicians threw themselves into the controversy over the video on Wednesday. Marine Le Pen of the far-right Rassemblement national party called it “indecent and scandalous”.
Michel Barnier, presidential candidate for the center-right Republicans, said: [Islamic] veil. âHe said it wasâ not an instrument of women’s freedom but the opposite â.
Eric Zemmour, television polemicist who made a name for himself attacking Islam and Muslim immigrants, noted: âIslam is the enemy of freedom. This campaign is the enemy of truth. It promotes the veil of Europeans. It is an advertising jihad financed by your taxes. Zemmour, who has yet to declare his candidacy, has garnered significant public support as a potential presidential candidate.
The European Commission, which helped fund the council’s program, defended the global campaign against hate speech and said women should be allowed to wear whatever they want under the laws of the countries where they live.
a survey released Wednesday ahead of the French presidential election next April highlighted the recent right-wing and far-right shift by voters in the country.
Zemmour passed Le Pen in a matter of weeks and is now Macron’s main challenger in his bid for re-election. Macron has 23-24 percent of the voting intentions for the first round of the election, followed by Zemmour with 17-18 percent and Le Pen with 15-16 percent, according to the poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the magazine Challenges .