The United Nations (UN) has reiterated its opposition to the ban on French athletes wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, at next year’s Olympics and Paralympics in Paris.
The French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra announced earlier this week that the country’s athletes will not wear the hijab during the Paris 2024 Games in line with the country’s regime of “strict secularism.”
Asked about this statement during a regular press briefing in Geneva, Agence France-Presse reported that Marta Hurtado, the UN’s spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, replied: “In general, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights believes that no one should impose on a woman what she should or should not wear.”
Hurtado said that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires all parties to take “all appropriate measures necessary to modify any social or cultural model based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of one or the other sex.
But she added: “Under international human rights standards, restrictions on the expression of religions or beliefs, such as choice of clothing, are only acceptable in very specific circumstances that respond proportionately and necessary to legitimate concerns regarding public safety, public order, public health or morality.”
“We have, thanks to a recent decision of the Council of State, expressed very clearly with the Prime Minister our attachment to a regime of strict secularism,” she said.
“This means the prohibition of any form of proselytism, the absolute neutrality of public service.
“The representatives of our delegations in our French teams will not wear the veil.”
Wearing the veil is set to remain banned during football matches in France, an approach that goes against a call from a collective of Muslim women, who call themselves “Les Hijabeuses.”