SHAFAQNA – The French word used by Rossignol, “nègres,” is a particularly offensive and outdated term with colonial undertones.
The French Minister for Family, Children and Women’s Rights Laurence Rossignol sparked huge controversy and outrage after comparing Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab with “Negroes who accept slavery,” while saying that those fashion brands that market hijabs are “irresponsible.”
Immediately after, thousands of people in France signed a petition asking her to resign.
“Of course there are women who choose it (the veil) … There were American Negroes who were in favor of slavery,” said Rossignol in an interview on Thursday.
The French word used by Rossignol, “nègres,” is a particularly offensive and outdated term with colonial undertones. She herself admitted she had made a mistake in using the word, adding it is no longer used except to refer to Baron de Montesquieu’s writings on slavery.
She said retailers who design products for Muslim women and promote the hijab are fomenting “the confinement of women’s bodies.”
Thousands of social media users have rejected Rossignol’s comments, saying they encourage the rising Islamophobia sentiment among Europeans, especially after the Paris and Brussels attacks, that were perpetrated by Islamic extremists.
ANALYSIS: Muslims Face New Wave of Islamophobia Across Western World
In 2004, France made the hijab ban into a broad law which also covers schoolchildren and even parents who want to accompany class outings.
The ban, which views hijab as a “conspicuous” religious symbol, has enraged France’s Muslim community, which is the largest in Europe.