‘Women without veils lack modesty?’ French feminists slammed for saying hijab empowers females

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‘Women without veils lack modesty?’ French feminists slammed for saying hijab empowers females

A French feminist group has come under a barrage of criticism and been accused of confusing Islam and Islamism after releasing a photo of a veiled woman and argued that wearing a headscarf is a sign of modesty & empowers females.

A French feminist group has come under a barrage of criticism and been accused of confusing Islam and Islamism after releasing a photo of a veiled woman and argued that wearing a headscarf is a sign of modesty & empowers females.

The controversial post appeared on the Facebook page of the Family Planning 13 association, which traditionally promotes values of feminism and secularism, earlier in September. One of the photos shows a curvy woman in underwear, saying that “nudity empowers some women.” In another picture one can see a veiled girl with words “modesty empowers some women.” The group argued that “different things empower different women.”

The “women empowerment” photos apparently didn’t produce the desired effect on the audience. France’s center-left Marianne journal, which was one of the first to notice the post, immediately criticized the group for leaning towards “values of Muslim fundamentalism.”

Bombarded with criticism, Family Planning 13 deleted the controversial manifesto and released a couple of posts where it insisted that it was the victim of “racist and Islamophobic” attacks. It explained that it had to remove the post because the comments under it “were too violent.” The group also demanded Marianne to delete its “erroneous” article. 

The analogy drawn between the Islamic veil and nudity still triggered an avalanche of negative comments on social media.

Naëm Bestandji, an activist who supports secularism and feminism, accused the group of “confusing Islam and Islamism” in a series of lengthy posts on Facebook. He insists that from the Family Planning 13 post one can conclude that “women without veils don’t have any modesty.” 

Bestandji also noted that the curvy woman in underwear is depicted in a derogatory way – opposed to the “modest” veiled woman who is also slim. “No woman would go to work or school in underwear,” he wrote.

Many on social media supported Bestandji’s view, calling the post “unbelievable” and “disturbing”. They even slammed the group for its hypocrisy after it deleted the controversial post.

The photos “deliberately degraded a vision of a Western woman and promoted a veiled woman,” one person wrote. “You say you fight all forms of discrimination? So why do you associate the veiled woman with the notion of ‘modesty’?” another person asked. While yet another netizen stated that the post implies that “those who do not wear a headscarf are immodest.”

Created in 1956, Family Planning 13 says that it defends a right to contraception, abortion and sexual education. On its website the group claims that it fights against all forms of discrimination and social inequalities. 

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