Tuesday Jul 27, 2021

Football Hijabis Tackle Prejudice with Les Hijabeuses

In the latest episode of Positive Solace: Women of Vision, Attika chats to Founé Diawara and Leïla Kellou, who are members of Les Hijabeuses, a collective of women who are campaigning against the French Football Federation (FFF)’s ban on the wearing of a hijab in official matches and international games.

Despite FIFA, the world governing body of football lifting their ban on hijabs in 2014, the FFF have stood fast, citing that the sport must comply with Laïcité, (secularism), which is derived from a traditional policy of separation between church and state in France, but has since been taken to mean that the state should be neutral to all religions.

France’s estimated 5.7 million Muslims face a torrid time of further stigmatisation and oppression from extremist groups - There is continuing controversy over the national ban on full-face veils in France which was first imposed in 2011, and more recently there has been an amendment to a controversial 'anti-separatism' bill which includes a ban on women under the age of 18 wearing the hijab in public places, sparking a backlash and a protest under the hashtag #HandsOffMyHijab that went viral.

Founé was just 15 when she was first told by a referee that she could not participate in a football match due to her choosing to wear a hijab.

Now 21 and the co-president of Les Hijabeuses, the pair play football together, connect with other teams across France and put on training sessions to encourage other young hijab-wearing women to get into football.

Leïla originally comes from an Algerian family that has a passion for the game. She has also been denied the right to participate in games, and wants the next generation of young women to enjoy the sport without the fear of exclusion.

Founé and Leïla converse with Attika about their experiences both on and off the field. They discuss how they are dealing with the recent political decisions by the French Senate, their campaign for a more inclusive French society, regardless of religion or race, their love for the beautiful game and their vision for a more inclusive sport in France is truly something to behold.

You can find out more about the Les Hijabeuses by following the group on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leshijabeuses/

With thanks to the Positive Solace Team. Don’t forget to subscribe to never miss an episode.

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Attika Choudhary

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