The Council of Europe had to withdraw the slogan “beauty is in diversity like freedom in the hijab”

In essence, the slogans that France challenges “freedom in the hijab” are fully in line with the multicultural conception of human rights of groups and minorities as applied by Germany. However, they are in conflict with the human rights of individuals as defined by French laws and the constitution
(illustration, Council of Europe Propaganda Photograph saying “beauty is as diverse as freedom in the hijab”)

The Council of Europe, a pan-European organization that monitors respect for human rights and the rule of law in 47 member states, including all EU countries, yesterday had to download a video and photos from its website saying “beauty is in diversity such as freedom in hijab ”(in English:“ beauty is in diversity as freedom is in hijab ”) or“ my hijab, my choice ”.

Photographs of a woman wearing a hijab up to half her face, and the other half showing her with short hair, and the controversial video were posted on the pages of the Council of Europe’s “Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination” department for several days.

The material was withdrawn from the site after violent reactions that arrived from France, at the explicit request of the French ambassador at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.

Controversial propaganda poster: Even a representative of the anti-racism organization said that the Council of Europe’s campaign was “clumsily” carried out

Reactions in France and the election campaign

Most of the Council of Europe’s human rights and anti-discrimination campaigns often go unnoticed in the major media and on social media, but this has caused a real storm.

First of all, France reacted, in which it is forbidden to wear the hijab in state schools and state institutions of all kinds, because covering the head with a headscarf is considered to be wearing a visible religious symbol.

All media report details of this affair.

It is true that Germany, without much excitement, supported the request of France to withdraw the material related to the “hijab” from the website of the Council of Europe.

In France, not only the far right reacted, but also all other political groups. Even the moderate Greens and the center-left consider it inadmissible to promote the wearing of the hijab even though it is permitted by law as a private choice (except in public institutions).

The fierce reaction in France, first on social networks, then through the media, can be explained by the fact that the campaign for the presidential and parliamentary elections has already begun and that Islam and the EU are topics that will be contested by increasingly extreme political opponents. This time, as rarely – almost all political groups, either from the left or from the right – criticized the Council of Europe.

“Freedom of religion should not be confused with the promotion of what is a sign of religious affiliation,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Atal.

The leader of the far-right National Assembly and presidential candidate Marin Lepen assessed that it was a “scandalous and unworthy text while millions of women are bravely fighting to get out of their subordinate position”.

On the moderate right – the ratings are somewhat more moderate. Thus, Valerie Pekres, also a candidate from the center-right party (Republicans), said that she was “stunned” and that she considered the hijab “not a symbol of freedom but a symbol of subordination.”

On the left, Laurence Rossignol, a socialist senator, expressed regret that (it turns out) that the slogan “freedom is in the hijab” ultimately represents the promotion of the hijab.

The Greens showed the least sharpness.

“When it comes to promoting the hijab as a symbol of freedom – we can agree or disagree, but the question is whether it should be the subject of a Council of Europe campaign at all,” said David Corman, the former head of the European Greens.

Even a representative of the anti-racism organization said that the Council of Europe’s campaign was “clumsily” carried out because it gives the impression that women wear the hijab only because they want to, while it is known that many women in the Muslim world are covered because they forced ”.

Only the far left, which once took part in the controversial march against Islamophobia, is silent for now.

German-French differences and European money

Although the Council of Europe, which brings together 47 member states and is primarily concerned with respect for human rights, is not the same as the EU, which brings together 27 member states, many took the opportunity to point the finger at the European Union. Member State of the Union.

The budget of the Council of Europe’s campaign for inclusion and the fight against discrimination amounts to 439 million euros for the period from 2014 to 2020. The goal of the program is to “contribute to the implementation of the principles of equality and human rights, enshrined in the (Lisbon) Treaty, the Charter and the Convention on Human Rights.”

This affair sharpened two mutually opposing conceptions of human rights: One arose directly from the French Revolution of 1789 and speaks of the human rights of citizens – individuals, with religion being exclusively a private matter. France therefore has no minority and its constitution does not contain that category.

The second concept – backed by Germany – speaks to the human rights of groups, not individuals, promoting the rights of minorities that are no longer just ethnic. This concept advocates a multicultural model that prevails in European documents, whether it is the EU or the Council of Europe.

In essence, the slogans that France denies “freedom in the hijab” are completely in line with the multicultural conception of human rights of groups and minorities as applied by Germany. They are contrary, however, to the human rights of individuals as defined by French law and constitution.

The Council of Europe has now issued a statement saying it will find a more appropriate way to campaign against discrimination.


Source: Balkan Magazin – Aktuelnosti by www.balkanmagazin.net.

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