Intern. solidarity: women in Palestine march against French oppression
- International solidarity
Women in Palestine march against French headscarf oppression
For Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
Palestinian women protest against French headscarf ban
By The Associated Press via Ha'aetz Jan 5, 2004
Some 300 female supporters of Islamic Jihad marched Monday through the
streets of Gaza City protesting a French proposal to bar Muslim women from
wearing headscarves in state schools.
Chanting, "Islamic women against the French orders," the women marched to
the French cultural center here in a show of solidarity with their Muslim
sisters in France.
The protests come after French President Jacques Chirac asked parliament to
ban the wearing of the "hijab," or head scarf, and other conspicuous
religious symbols - such as Jewish skullcaps and large crosses - in public
schools to protect the country's secular nature.
The women in Gaza, all wearing traditional head coverings and carrying
Palestinian flags and black Islamic Jihad flags, marched through the streets
of downtown Gaza waving signs in Arabic, English and French.
"Where is the religious freedom that the West was championing day and
night," read one of the signs.
Arriving at the cultural center, a group of women handed in a petition
signed by the "women of Palestine," calling Chirac to "immediately retract
the decision and to allow Muslim females to wear the hijab, a symbol of
purity, honor and modesty."
The French decision has sparked an outcry in many Muslim countries, where
Islamic leaders have said the hijab is a mandatory religious obligation.
But Chirac recently received some backing when a leading Egyptian cleric,
Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, ruled last week that Muslim women should respect
The French proposal creates the impression that the West is anti-Islam, said
marcher Rawia Ahmed, 32.
"Muslims, faced by such a decision, will lose confidence in the western
principles of democracy, justice and human rights," she said.
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