Paris: Muslim students held Hijab Day event at an elite Paris university, which sparked bitter debate on Wednesday. By inviting all their classmates to wear the Muslim head scarf for a day.
The event was vehemently criticised on social media and by student union representatives.
Students at Paris’s Sciences Po university wants to support women who wear the veil, to raise awareness of treatment of women who wear the hijab, and want to show then that they are in solidarity with them.
Students are handed out flyers at the university by a table covered in colourful headscarves with a sign reading: “France got 99 problems but Hijab ain’t one.”
The Hijab Day Facebook page stated that the students who took part in wearing the veil for a day would ‘experience the stigmatisation experienced by veiled women in France’.
One of the organisers Laetitia said. “It is to raise awareness, open the debate and give the floor to women who are often debated on in public but rarely heard.”
The page lashed out at Prime Minister Manuel Valls at his controversial statement that he wished to ban all forms of religious headscarves at French universities and said the veil was being used as a political symbol for the “enslavement of women.”
The feminist group on campus, Politique’elles, threw its full support behind the move.
“Whatever they wear, whether a miniskirt or a veil, (women) are criticized,” a group statement said. “Feminism must remain universal to defend all women, independent of their religion, origin or social class.”
The university distanced itself from the initiative in a statement on Twitter.
“The hijab question in higher education institutes and more widely in France is a current debate that provokes a wide variety of positions.
“If it is legitimate to bring this debate to our school, the mode of communication chosen to do so can be questioned and the holding of this event… should not be interpreted as support for this initiative.”