French retailer Decathalon has quickly backpedaled on a heavily promoted “sports hijab” which allowed Muslim women to work out while still remaining in compliance with Sharia law, after the garment faced immediate pushback from outraged politicians and members of the public.
“My choice as a woman and a citizen will be to no longer trust a brand that breaks with our values,” tweeted Health Minister Agnes Buzyn.
Decathalon initially doubled down – arguing over social media that they were offering women “a suitable sports product, without judgement.”
Less than 24 hours later, however, the sports hijab was pulled following “many internal debates, and to guarantee the safety of our employees in France,” and a “violent controversy” surrounding the hijab
“Our mission is to create … products at the fairest prices, anywhere in the world,” said the company.
Islam is the second-most widely practiced religion in France after Catholicism, at around 12.5% of the population. The country has banned Muslim women from wearing veils in public, including the controversial “burkini” in coastal cities.
France was the first European country to blatantly ban the burka and niqab in public places when, in 2011, it was made illegal for women to leave their homes wearing a face covering.
Not only are there fines for wearing the veil, but anyone who forces a woman to wear one can be fined about $43,000 or be jailed.
In 2016, coastal French towns banned the body-covering burkini swimwear — a move that was defended by the French Government.
Following the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France, which killed 84 people, the city implemented its own ban on face coverings despite a higher court ruling that the ban was a “serious” violation of freedoms. Nice eventually relented and lifted the ban.