Ding! Ding! Ding! I woke up after hearing my phone buzz. I opened my eyes and picked up my phone to see headlines that surprised and disgusted me. An article stated that in France girls 18 and under can no longer wear the hijab publicly. As a 16-year-old Muslim I was frightened, wondering if something like this would happen to me.
At that time I chose not to wear a hijab. Now at 17, I wear my hijab proudly because others can’t. I feel as though I had a privilege to make a choice that was taken away from women in France.
In 2004, France banned religious head coverings in school and government buildings. Seven years later France issued a ban on full face coverings in public areas. Later, in 2021, the news I woke up to, France passed a constitutional amendment targeting mothers accompanying their children on school trips and Islamic swimwear. They also banned girls 18 years old and younger from wearing religious head coverings in public. French lawmakers are doing this because they believe they are protecting Muslim women.
France is trying to liberate something that is already liberated.
The hijab is an expression of who I am today. If someone came up to me and said I can’t wear it, I would feel like my heart would be ripped out of my chest. I would feel as if I was naked on the street. It isn’t just a piece of cloth. Just as the Holy Trinity is taught to Christian children, the importance of the hijab is taught to Muslim children. You know the feeling in your stomach when you do something bad? That’s what I feel when I do not have my hijab.
Advocates in France say they do this to protect women from being oppressed, yet I am not oppressed and never was oppressed because of my hijab. I am more oppressed when I am told that I can’t dress the way I want to. It’s my choice if I decide to wear the hijab.
The ban disrespects what women wear, it disrespects how they choose to express themselves and it disrespects their religion. I don’t need protection.
ThreeSixty Fall News Team students wrote op-ed stories, then turned them into digital essays, inspired by the #360YouthVoiceChallenge, which is inspired by youth.