Europe is struggling to find its place in the global marketplace, with a growing number of countries adopting bans on the headscarf, including France, which is the world’s most populous Muslim country.
This is not good news for Muslim women, who often find themselves at the mercy of restrictive laws that force them to wear full-face veils.
The hijab is not a fashion trend, but a political one, argues the editor of the journal Next Big 2020, Shlomo Ben-Ami.
The article was published in the journal by the European Commission, which aims to boost diversity in its agencies.
“The hijab is a political symbol of oppression, of exclusion, and of marginalisation.
It is a symbol of exclusion that serves as a barrier to the full participation of the Muslim population,” said Mr Ben-Amei.
“Hijabs are a political signifier of exclusion and exclusionary power.
They are a way to exclude others, especially those who do not share the same values as the Muslim community.”
“In the same way that we cannot ignore the fact that some countries are adopting bans, we cannot allow the hijab to be the only symbol of social exclusion.”
Europe’s top female executive board has banned the headdress in the European Parliament, and the European Council has been considering whether to follow suit.
While Europe is making progress in changing attitudes towards the hijab, it is far from done.
“I think that this is a great opportunity for Europe to demonstrate its commitment to diversity,” said Ms Ben-Mei.
The BBC’s Middle East editor Peter Oborne said the article was a reminder of the need to look beyond the hijab and show solidarity with the Muslim and immigrant communities in Europe.
“I think this is about more than just a political statement; this is also about a political effort to build a more inclusive, more humane and just Europe,” he said.
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