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Back Activities Alert Archive URGENT ALERT: FRANCE - government attempts to ban hijab.

URGENT ALERT: FRANCE - government attempts to ban hijab.

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Take action to prevent the proposed bill banning hijab becoming law.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission

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29th November 2003

URGENT ALERT: FRANCE - government attempts to ban hijab.

1. Background
2. Suggested Action
3. Model Emails / Letters / Faxes


1. Background

IHRC has been monitoring the deteriorating situation in France regarding women's rights, in particular the right of Muslim women to wear hijab.

IHRC reported some months back on rumours that the French government would be attempting to introduce laws to ban hijab. This prospect has taken another step towards becoming a reality in law, as the French Prime Minister announced yesterday to a meeting of his party the UMP that he would be introducing a bill to ban the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols.

A fierce battle has been raging in France's courts for more than a decade over the expulsion of girls from school for refusing to remove their hijab. More recently women are being denied their ID cards and passports unless they remove their hijab. Four days a go a juror was dismissed from a case for wearing hijab.

French institutions and authorities usually claim that the scarf violates French secularism. The French prime minister now says his bill is aimed at lifting restrictions on women. This is a bizarre contention as the bill will force women to remove clothing - in other words it will violently abuse their human rights.

2. Suggested Actions

IHRC requests all campaigners to take the following suggested actions:

(i) If you live within the European Union (but are not French), please write to your Minister for Foreign Affairs / Minister for Europe demanding they make the strongest representations to the French government to stop this action. This proposed bill violates the European Convention on Human Rights and is clearly a discriminatory blow to Muslim women forcing them to either violate their principles or quite simply stay at home.

UK campaigners please note that the British Minister for Europe is the Islamophobic Dennis MacShane MP. IHRC requests campaigners not to write to him but to the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw MP (please see the model letter below).

(ii) Please write to the French Ambassador in your country demanding that the government halt this proposed action, as it violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

(iii) Please write to French President Jacques Chirac requesting he take a stand against the rise of Xenophobia in the French government.

(iv) Please write to the French Interior Minister who has opposed banning religious symbols in the past, requesting that he stand firm on this and resist the implementation of this and any other discriminatory legislation.


3. Model letters / faxes / emails and contact addresses

(a) Model letter to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw MP
(b) Model letter to Ministers for Foreign Affairs (general)
(c) Model letter to French Ambassadors
(d) Model letter to President Jacques Chirac
(e) Model letter to French Interior Minister


(a) Model letter to Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP

Your name
Your email
Your address

Date

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH,

Fax: +44 20 7839 2417 ::
Email private.office@fco.gov.uk

Dear Mr. Straw,

Re: French government's plan to ban religious symbols in public places

I write with regard to the French Prime Minister's comments on Friday 28th November 2003 regarding his proposed bill to ban religious symbols.

I am deeply concerned that this will be enacted and request that you make immediate representations to the French government to prevent any such legislation being further discussed let alone enacted. Clearly such a bill will violate the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as other international documents and standards. It would also be a discriminatory blow to Muslim women forcing them to either violate their principles or quite simply stay at home.

In point of fact the proposed requirement for Muslim women to remove clothing is a violent abuse of their rights and can not be sanctioned by any government respecting human rights.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding the immediate action you have taken in this matter. I note that the Minister for Europe in your office is in fact Dr. Dennis MacShane MP. However I do not feel that he should remain in his position given his recent Islamophobic outbursts. He certainly cannot intercede in this matter as he has clearly exhibited a derogatory attitude towards Muslims, and I trust that your office will be looking to replace him shortly should he refuse to do the honourable thing and resign.

I await your urgent response.

Yours sincerely,

Your name

(b) Model letter to Ministers for Foreign Affairs (general)

To find the address of your Minister for Foreign Affairs go to: http://www.usip.org/library/formin.html

Your name
Your email
Your address

Date

Name of Minister
Address of Minister

Dear [NAME of MINISTER],

Re: French government's plan to ban religious symbols in public places

I write with regard to the French Prime Minister's comments on Friday 28th November 2003 regarding his proposed bill to ban religious symbols.

I am deeply concerned that this will be enacted and request that you make immediate representations to the French government to prevent any such legislation being further discussed let alone enacted. Clearly such a bill will violate the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as other international documents and standards. It would also be a discriminatory blow to Muslim women forcing them to either violate their principles or quite simply stay at home.

In point of fact the proposed requirement for Muslim women to remove clothing is a violent abuse of their rights and can not be sanctioned by any government respecting human rights.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding the immediate action you have taken in this matter.

I await your urgent response.

Yours sincerely,

Your name

(c) Model letter to French Ambassadors

To find the name and address of the French Ambassador in your country go to:
http://www.info-france-usa.org/atoz/embassies.asp

Your name
Your address
Your email / fax

Date

Name of Ambassador
Name of Embassy
Address of Embassy

Your Excellency,

Re: French government's plan to ban religious symbols in public places

I write with regard to the French Prime Minister's comments on Friday 28th November 2003 regarding his proposed bill to ban religious symbols.

I am deeply concerned at these comments and request you to make my opposition to this action known to your government. I am shocked that having so recently stood up to the bullying tactics of the USA over the Iraq war, your government now mimics its xenophobia in its treatment of Muslim women.

Any such action on the part of your government will not simply alienate Muslims but all those who believe in equal and full rights for women and minorities world-wide.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding this matter, in the hope that the Prime Minister's comments do no become a governmental policy or decision.

Yours truly,


Your name

(d) Model letter to President Jacques Chirac

Your letter can be emailed by using the following page:
http://www.elysee.fr/ang/pres/portr_.htm

Your name
Your address
Your email / fax

Date

Monsieur le Président de la République
Palais de l\'Elysée
55, rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
FRANCE

Dear Monsieur Chirac,

Re: French government's plan to ban religious symbols in public places

I write with regard to the French Prime Minister's comments on Friday 28th November 2003 regarding his proposed bill to ban religious symbols.

I am shocked that having so recently stood up to the bullying tactics of the USA over the Iraq war, your government now mimics its xenophobia in its treatment of Muslim women. Any such bill would violate all human rights standards including the European Convention on Human Rights and I urge you to arbitrate in this mater and stop this abuse of the function of the Prime Minister's office.

Any such action on the part of the French government will not simply alienate Muslims in France and world-wide but all those who believe in equal and full rights for women and minorities. Just as you have spoken out in recent weeks against anti-semitism you must tackle this growing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred in French institutions and indeed the government.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding this matter, in the hope that the Prime Minister's comments do no become a governmental policy or decision.

Yours sincerely,


Your name

(e) Model letter to French Interior Minister

M. Nicolas Sarkozy
Ministre de l'Interieur, de la Securite et des Libertes Locales
Ministere de l'Interieur
Place Beauvau
Paris
France

Fax +33 1 43 59 89 50
e-mail sirp@cybercable.fr

Dear Monsieur Sarkozy,

Re: French government's plan to ban religious symbols in public places

I write with regard to the French Prime Minister's comments on Friday 28th November 2003 regarding his proposed bill to ban religious symbols.

I strongly urge you in your capacity to resist any such bill as it would violate all human rights standards including the European Convention on Human Rights. Any such action on the part of the French government will not simply alienate Muslims but all those who believe in equal and full rights for women and minorities world-wide.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding this matter, in the hope that the Prime Minister's comments do no become a governmental policy or decision.

Yours sincerely,


Your name

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Please contact the office on the numbers below for further information.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org


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