The presence of Maryam Pougetoux, vice president of the student association Unefet Muslim handicraft, invited by a committee from the National Assembly, on Thursday, was not appreciated by any right-wing leaders and an elected LREM. They left the place in protest and accused the young woman of “a deliberate communist act”.
The veil of this young French woman, invested in student life, is once again at the center of a controversy. Invited to the National Assembly, as part of a hearing on the effects of the Covid-19 crisis for young people, Maryam Pougetoux, vice president of the left-wing student union UNEF, was strongly attacked, on Thursday, September 17, by some LR deputies and an elected LREM.
Several MPs left the room with a crash to mark their indignation at the presence of the young hidden Muslim. Following the speech of Maryam Pougetoux, the deputy of Pas-de-Calais (LR) Pierre-Henri Dumont, who made an “order”, rebelled against the student’s veil, believing that it was a “deliberate communist act” contrary to the “principle of secularism”. which our church must follow “.
However, no law requires this young Muslim to remove the veil once she has gone through the steps of the National Assembly, just as it is approved in the “public space”. Announcing a bad trial, the President of the Commission, the elected representative of the Haute-Garonne, Sandrine Morch, also reminded her colleagues that “no rule prohibits[sait] bears a religious symbol for the interviewees “.
Anne-Christine Lang, Member of Parliament in Paris and the only LREM representative who has joined LR-elected representatives outside the room, does not agree. “As a Member of Parliament and feminist, attached to Republican values, #secularism and #women’s rights, I can not accept that a person will participate in our work at #AN in the hijab, which remains for me a sign of submission,” she said in a tweet.
Latifa Ibn Ziaten bowed to his veil
As a representative of UNEF, Maryam Pougetoux was invited to this hearing, with counterparts from other unions, to be heard on the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis for students in France. These exchanges should feed the work of a new commission of inquiry set up “to measure and prevent” the effects of this crisis “on children and young people” at the initiative of the rapporteur, Communist Deputy Marie-George Buffet of Seine-Saint-Denis.
“Attacking a hidden student, elected representative of UNEF and preventing her from representing students at the National Assembly is neither feminist nor republican, it is Islamophobic!” responded to twitter Melanie Luce, UNEF President. She said she regretted that her sidekick who “came to talk about a serious subject” was only noticed for her veil.
Commission President Sandrine Morch, for her part, recalled that she would not allow “this false debate over the veil to get into this commission, which would work with the future and present of young people, in a very complicated situation”.
However, Maryam Pougetoux is not the first hidden woman to be invited to speak to the National Assembly. Latifa Ibn Ziaten, mother of soldier Imad Ibn Ziaten, murdered by terrorist Mohammed Merah in 2012, spoke at a meeting on secularism. But this time the veil had provoked strong reactions. Two conference participants left the room after squirting their mother.
Macron camp divided
Following the incident on Thursday, several deputies demanded a tightening of the rules for wearing religious symbols in parliament, including Deputy Anne-Christine Lang, who put forward the idea “that we get rid of all religious symbols when we deal with national representation” as a result of a change in the rules.
This quarrel over the veil carries a debate that has divided French society since the affair of the “Creil scarves” in 1989, those of three teenage girls, expelled from a college. The first controversy over the Islamic veil. It reappears this time, a few weeks away from a bill against separatism, scheduled for the autumn, whose debates promise to be heated, as the subject raises disagreements within the LREM party on issues of secularism and diversity.
“If the National Representation chooses for a moment not to hear French diversity, I would be very, very embarrassed,” replied Ille-et-Vilaine Gael le Bohec’s macronist deputy, in disagreement with the attitude of colleagues.
A position shared by Marseille’s LREM deputy, Said Ahamada, on twitter: ‘I reject the decision to boycott these deputies! This student does not break any law. No matter what one thinks of the veil, the deputies we are must be an example by respecting the law and accepting the opposition “.
“I would not have acted like my colleague [Anne-Christine Lang]. When it comes to secularism, we must respect the law, the whole law, nothing but the law. We must not hysteria the debates “, appreciated for his part LREM’s general delegate, Stanislas Guerini, and pointed to” a kind of media trap where we systematically go in and everyone will go with their strongest word.
Harassment on social media
Of late, the incident, which lasted just a few minutes, Thursday morning, has already passed the walls of Bourbon Palace and upset social networks. Especially since Maryam Pougetoux had already been at the heart of a controversy in 2018 when several politicians, including Marlene Schiappa, then Secretary of State for Gender Equality, criticized Unef for appointing a hidden student as a spokesman at the time.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb then “shockingly” judged that the leader of Unef was wearing an Islamic veil and condemned a form of “proselytism”. Words that Maryam Pougetoux had considered “pathetic on the part of a Home Secretary” and “violent”. The young activist, the granddaughter of French resistance fighters, then declared wearing the veil “by choice, by religious conviction, but with respect for the law, with respect for others”. “Knowing that my veil has no political function. That’s my belief. After all, it’s visible, but it’s not for all that proselytism. I almost have to justify my choice when I should not, she said on Buzzfeed after being silent for several days.
This time, the 20-year-old student is silent. “She has already been hit by a huge wave of harassment in 2018, with the publication of her address on social networks, etc. After all, she kept the courage to continue investing in students, so we are scandalized to see this happen again, and all on because of the deputies confusing secularism and Islamophobia “, laments the UNEF President.