Hijab, Racism and Islamophobia

Image: Felipe Ribeiro


Racism and Islamophobia are under a thin veil of defense of universal values ​​and propaganda that sustain the war and scorched earth policies of the ruling class

Since our early age, the vilification of the Arab and Muslim people has been worked on in our imagery through the culture and ideology of the mass media, which reflect racism and Islamophobia. The Doctor. Jack Shaheen is one of the great intellectuals who have been working and studying this issue for over 30 years, his most famous work is Bad movies, evil Arabs – how Hollywood vilified a people. What I would like to try to do in this writing is to make a little more visible the urgency of what many are still reluctant to see as racism and Islamophobia are under a thin veil of defense of universal values ​​and propaganda that sustain the policies of war and land devastated by the ruling class. I have observed for a long time a pattern – even supported by a large part of the left, especially feminists – of stereotypes of dangerous and hateful Arabs. Stereotypes that rob you of your humanity and dignity. Every aspect of our culture projects Arabs as a constant danger.

The rise of an extreme right-wing discourse in France, for example, is present in Islamophobia and the preaching of the military involves the propagation of fear by poor immigrants, practitioners of Islam. French politics creates increasingly repressive laws.

In April of this year the French senate voted that no girl under the age of 18 could wear the hijab in public, and mothers who wear the hijab would not be allowed to accompany their children on school trips, reigniting a longstanding debate over the place of Islam in society. society in general. Islamophobia is deepening in Macron's France under the discourse of freedom and democracy, and even using feminism for this. The secularist, republican and “modern” discourse. The French political mainstream uses astute intellectual refinement for its racist and anti-immigrant policies. However, the differences between the rabid extreme right in practice are smaller than we think.

It is important to remember that this is not a new problem to be brought to the table. At the start of the 2003 school year, two young women, Alma and Lila, were excluded from a secondary school in France for wearing the Muslim veil, or hijab. At the time, Prime Minister Raffarin declared that he would be “inflexible in his resolve” on this issue. Referring to the exclusions on the Seine Saint Denis, he said: “In matters of education, the republic must dominate over the faith and, as recent events demonstrate, the means are at our disposal.”[1]. For months, the Raffarin government talked of introducing a bill on secularism and the place of religion in school – a bill that became law. The real target is Islam, as former Prime Minister Alain Juppé admitted: “Religious extremism is a threat to the republic. The use of conspicuous insignia is not acceptable. There must be legislation to prevent the wearing of the Islamic headscarf.”[2]. Some right-wing deputies at the time went so far as to openly say that the headscarf should be banned, not only at school, but also in public places and on the streets. the newspaper editor The Point, Claude Imbert, even said: “We have to be honest. I'm a bit of an Islamophobe and I'm not ashamed to say so. I have a right to think, and I am not the only one in this country who thinks that Islam – and I mean Islam as a religion, not just Islamists – is backward and harmful. He has a way of seeing women, of systematically disqualifying women. [and] wants the law of the Qur'an to supersede the law of the State. All this makes me Islamophobic”.[3]

The entity to which he belonged, and which is responsible for the situation of immigrants in France (the High Council for Integration), gave him its support. No one on the right condemned the statement.

Current attacks on Islam by both the Le Pens and Macron have always been part of the French government's racist offensive. The objective is to divert attention from the real problems of society, using Muslims and immigrants as scapegoats, they the moderns and secularists and the others the representation of the barbarian, against the backdrop of the imminent threat of terrorism. The government is trying to regain the initiative by making the headscarf issue a factor of division and rule among students, teachers and parents – the best way to regain control. Focusing on scarf prejudice allows them to hide the real problems that affect schools (social inequalities, unemployment, job insecurity, discrimination and privatization), which beautiful France has instead of solving them.

There is also the global context. To justify his never-ending war for the “democratic freedoms of the West”, Macron made Islam and Muslims the pretext for a new “crusade”. Propaganda masks the real reason for this endless war and the issues at stake – that in reality it is a continuation of the economic war. In their own way, European governments are adopting the same logic as the US – with less spending on welfare and more on law and order, the poor and immigrants have become the targets to choose from. A reason must be found to justify the increasing military and security budgets of the state. During the Cold War, the US ruling class, for example, gave the reason for "the communist threat". After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new one was needed. Islam played and plays this role and the Western ruling classes cry out: 'If you are not with us, you are against us'. In the days following 11/100, several thousand Muslims were arrested in the US. In one month, more than XNUMX mosques were destroyed or burned down. France has also witnessed a steady rise in anti-Muslim incidents over the last few years.

It is precisely for this reason that, on the issue of headscarves at school, the right to education of these students must be defended. As Pierre Tevanian says:

Public education must be accessible to all. If the secular school system begins to select its admission and says that this or that group is not secular enough to have the right to public schooling, it ceases to be secular: it becomes reserved for specific students of the school.

Unfortunately, this is not the attitude of the majority of the left today. This is not surprising. In previous governments they had ex-ministers Fabius and Lang, pursued practically the same policies as the right, and did not make any kind of speech about the use of the same racist weapons to implement their neo-liberal agenda, in addition to the fact that there is currently a speech on the liberal left for women's rights who endorse such policies. That the radical left is divided on this issue is perhaps most surprising.

Those who support the exclusions base their argument on two main arguments – one is that the headscarf serves to oppress women, and the other is that it undermines the principle of secularism. The purpose of this article is to respond to these arguments. It starts not from the fantasies that circulate about Islam in France, but from reality. Islam is not the threat that many would like us to believe, as what characterizes any religion is its ambiguity. It is an instrument of domination for those who manage the system. But it can also be an instrument of resistance for the oppressed. Islam is not homogeneous. The distorted Islamism used by terrorists should not be confused with that of French immigrants who are subject to state racism. Variations of fundamentalism have, in fact, always been supported by the US and Israel to undermine secular political forces. The most famous example is that of Afghanistan: a regime supported by the USSR (with military occupation, always reprehensible, it is true), with broad civil rights for women and minorities, was destroyed by the muhajedins, the “freedom fighters” that Reagan and the press western spread. Later they would form the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Contrary to what it may seem, this Islamic fundamentalism is quite recent, having been promoted incessantly by the defenders of democracy, even today — what were the “Syrian rebels”, defended by the West, who gave rise to Al Nusra and the Daesh (Islamic State), anyway? Who destroyed the Libyan regime, which promoted coexistence between different peoples, and armed sectarian groups in the region? Who fills with weapons and money the country that most promotes the most pernicious variation of Islamic obscurantism (Wahhabism), including university centers spread around the world, Saudi Arabia? Among them is France.

Most young people seduced by Islamic fundamentalist discourse are radicalized in the West. Those attracted to radical Islam are mostly “born-again Muslims”. They became religious obscurantists in the West. We need a coherent leftist response to the discrimination suffered by Muslims, and more particularly Muslim women. The goal of socialists is to fight racist divisions and reinforce the unity of all those whose interest is to change the world. The real enemy is the system, capitalism, which exploits and oppresses the vast majority of the planet. We need to unite the majority of the exploited and oppressed, regardless of their religion or gender, if we are to give ourselves the means to transform the world. In building this unit, we can forge a true political alternative, it can be the engine to radically overthrow this society.

France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, with around 5 million people, which amounts to between 7% and 8% of the population. Most are immigrants from Africa (the Maghreb or black Africa) or come from an immigrant background. The far-right claim that France has been “Islamized” is a fantasy. The population figure has remained relatively static since the early 80s. Until the early 1970s, most immigrants were black men from the Maghreb who usually returned to their own countries after a few years of work. But as the situation in Africa has tragically worsened since the 70s, due to the economic crisis, neoliberal attacks and structural adjustment programs, more and more immigrants want to stay in Europe. Their permanent stabilization created the so-called “second and third generation immigrants”.

Islam thus became the second religion in France. With immigration controls and the family reunification policy introduced by President Giscard d'Estaing in 1974, the immigrant population changed. Immigrant women or women from an immigrant background have increased in number. The husbands settled in France, where their wives joined them. Children born to immigrants constitute the second and third generations.

Grasping the connection between immigration and the Muslim religion is essential, as this highlights the fact that not all religions are treated equally in the West. Islam is primarily the religion of immigrants and is a victim of racism. Islam is an oppressed religion in France.

Racism developed with capitalism and colonialism. Islamophobia is the result of this:

There is a racist context for the Islamophobia that 11/1865 resurrected, and it is deeply rooted in French colonial history. Reading the legal texts of XNUMX, which legitimize the special status given to the colonized, one can see that this is not biological racism, but rather cultural racism – based on seeing the colonized as belonging to Muslim law, which was judged “contrary to to morality”.[4]

Officially, segregation in Algeria was religious. Prior to 1962, the French administration characterized the Algerian population as "French Muslims". Racism and Islamophobia thus play a crucial role in France in dividing and weakening the working class as a whole.

Modern racism, with its rhetoric about cultural difference, tacitly reverts to old notions of racial inferiority. Capitalist development depends on the exploitation of free wage labor. But the working class, which sells its labor power to capital, is itself divided. Capitalist production depends on the division of labor (manual and intellectual work, the fragmentation of productive tasks), with each worker being just a link in an immense chain. Capitalism forms a hierarchy, with workers in constant competition with each other in the labor market.[5]

But capitalism also develops globally, across borders, and sucks in workers from different national backgrounds. Capitalists employ immigrant labor for the benefits it brings them. Immigration increases the flexibility of the workforce. In the 60s, a large number of African immigrants were brought to France because labor was scarce and unemployment was virtually zero. Then, with the onset of the crisis from the 1980s onwards, they were no longer sought after in the host country. Too often, job insecurity forced them to accept lower wages and worse working conditions.

Immigration allows capitalists to reduce labor costs and maintain profits. In September 1963, the then Prime Minister, Georges Pompidou, declared: “Immigration offers a way to reduce pressure on the labor market and to relieve social pressure.”[6]. Marx had long earlier drawn attention to the divisions between English Protestant workers and Irish Catholic immigrants in nineteenth-century England:

This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the humorous texts - in short, by every means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And this class is fully aware of that.[7]

The capitalist class has to perpetuate racist ideology, which is crucial for them, while creating a multiracial workforce. In the 1930s, Spaniards, Portuguese and Jews were stigmatized. Nowadays, they are Arabs and Muslims.

The ruling class maintains racism by spreading prejudices that in fact have no foundation, but which damage the conscience of the majority. We are led to believe that there is currently a Muslim problem in French schools, despite this being completely refuted by reality.

According to the government, out of 5 million secondary school students, there were about 150 problematic cases between 1990 and 1992. In an interview with Humanité, Hanifa Chérifi, the government intermediary in the matter, explained that the cases had “reached their peak”. peak” at 300 in 1994 (coinciding with Pasqua's racist offensive), but that the rate had now dropped to 150 per year. Other researchers put the number at around 100. How a few hundred young women could be a threat to the school system is difficult to understand. In 1989, the Council of State decreed that headscarves could be worn in school (albeit equivocated by the ban on "visible" badges). However, there has not been a spectacular leap in numbers. Studies estimate that no more than a few thousand young women wear headscarves to school (so a minority), and there is nothing to indicate any recent increase. On September 26, 2003, the headline in Lutte Ouvrière about Alma and Lila's exclusion from Aubervilliers was Schools Under Attack of the Veil[8], implying that this was becoming a big problem, is that the use of headscarves was on an upward spiral. We have to patiently explain and demonstrate that this is not true.

Accepting the hijab at school is often said to open the door to “communitarianism”, thereby undermining republican universalism. But this is to hide the fact that 'communities' already exist – in wealthy areas of the capital, like the 16th arrondissement or Neuilly, and in exclusive schools for the rich, like Louis Le Grand or Henri IV. Society is unequal, and its constituent social classes are real. The right's condemnation of communitarianism allegedly practiced by Muslims or immigrants is completely hypocritical. They are the first to send their children to private schools for the rich, where social selection works.

The acceptance of the headscarf in school is often said to open the door to "communitarianism", thus undermining republican universalism. But that's to hide the fact that 'communities' already exist – in wealthy areas of the capital, like the 16th arrondissement or Neuilly, and in exclusive schools for the rich, like Louis Le Grand or Henri IV. Society is unequal, and its constituent social classes are real. The right's condemnation of communitarianism allegedly practiced by Muslims or immigrants is completely hypocritical. They are the first to send their children to private schools for the rich, where social selection works. The history of Muslims in France is this:

“(…) of a workforce exploited at work and often over-exploited in relation to housing: a workforce included in society but excluded from it in cultural and political terms. The younger generations who are their descendants were, on the whole, socially excluded. Racism marks a double rejection by French society, both socially and culturally. This counts heavily when it comes to asserting an Islamic-based identity: “You say I'm different? Well, yes I am, I am Muslim, and that is where I find the strength to live and survive in this society.”[9]

What must be fought, therefore, are the causes of this situation, not the oppressed themselves. There is much talk of a fundamentalist Islamic threat existing in the city's mosques and outskirts. There are no serious studies to support this. Xavier Ternisien, a journalist for Le Monde, summarized their findings. They all prove the exact opposite of what the press media and the entire political establishment would have us believe:

“What all the field investigations show is that mosques in France, with a few rare exceptions, are not centers of radical Islam. To make such claims at this point is to be accused of living in the land of the cuckoo in the clouds. However, the facts are there – mosques and prayer halls are not places where holy war is preached.”[10]

The constant mixing of what is supposed to be a drift towards Islamism in France with what happened as “Islamic terrorism” where it existed only in the form of isolated attacks makes a fuss about the role of the Islamic religion and, more broadly, of immigration. Starting from political or ideological assumptions, and not from reality, it prevents us from understanding why the systematic repression of the French State against young Muslims has to be fought.

There were, for example, “revolutionary intellectuals” such as Bernard-Henri Levy, Alain Finkielkraut and Pierre-André Taguieff[11], a noisy intellectual current in the mass media that likes to pass itself off as democratic and progressive. These people campaigned for young Muslim women to be excluded from school. The facade is respectable, but behind it emerges the reality of its anti-Arab racism, linked to unconditional support for the colonial policies of the Israeli State:

“What is striking is that those most committed to banning the headscarf in school are those who have most warmly embraced Oriana Fallacci's racist scandal and Islamophobia from a book. Alain Finkielkraut and Pierre-André Taguieff showed great indulgence towards this heinous work, while Bernard-Henri Levy severely condemned it – for its formal excesses”.[12]

Since 11/XNUMX, the assimilation of Islam to fundamentalism and terrorism has been revived. A few days after the New York attack, an explosion occurred at the AZF chemical plant in Toulouse. Hassan Jandoubi, a factory employee killed in the accident, was accused of committing an assault because he wore "two pairs of pants one over the other and four sets of underwear, two pairs of underpants and two pairs of boxers" - an outfit reminiscent of “Kamikaze Mythology”[13]. For days, the press and television produced this story. A team of journalists went to Hassan's mosque to tell us that the imam was a dangerous Islamist. This was simply a lie to draw attention away from Total's responsibility for the accident, a lie that reinforced anti-Muslim racism.

The same kind of manipulation of public opinion is repeated regularly. In December 2002, Sarkozy carried out a series of arrests in “Islamist networks” in La Courneuve, Romainville, Bondy, etc. Again, this was propaganda to make us think Bin Laden was at the door. At the same time, the entire press announced the discovery of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical equipment in Seine Saint Denis. Preparations for the Islamist attacks were underway! Terrorist equipment then proved to be nothing more than an industrial painter's outfit. In the same week, police arrested Abderazak Besseghir, a baggage handler at Roissy airport. Weapons had been discovered in the trunk of his car. In a matter of hours, he became the number one terrorist. People had to be found guilty to prove the threat was real.[14]. It was a big lie, and a few weeks later he was released. In the same period, 200 employees of the Roissy airport platform had their work permits revoked. His crime was that his facial appearance was wrong – and the police thought his presence in the mosque was dangerous. There are still several dozen young people arrested on charges of Islamic terrorism when there is not a shred of evidence against them. Racism is becoming commonplace and police harassment an everyday occurrence.

An important argument in favor of exclusion is that hijab use is oppressive. The truth is that a religion can reproduce the ideas and customs of the dominant classes in society. Each religion defends family values, whose objective is to keep women in a subordinate position, valued mainly for reproduction, while paternal authority is given a mythical status. But this is not unique to Islam. In Western society, the Catholic religion condemns contraception and abortion, prohibits divorce and justifies inequality between the sexes.

Those who defend exclusions are therefore in a completely contradictory position – young women who wear the hijab are considered victims but are also forced to suffer repression. In reality, discrimination only reinforces oppression.

“The scarf is unquestionably a sign of discrimination against women, intolerable in a country like ours, where rights are respected”[15]. Many of those who support such discrimination in the name of women's rights forget how heavily women are oppressed in our own western society. The Western world, we are told, is 'progressive' and 'advanced' – the position of women is good and can be offered as a model for 'backward' Muslims. Is it necessary to recall how profoundly sexist “our” society is? In France, the average salary of men is 25% higher than that of women in comparable jobs; 85% of part-time jobs are held by women; women in relationships do 98% of the cleaning, 96% of the housework, and 80% of the shopping; only 12% of French deputies are women.

Immigrant and Muslim families follow the same pattern. There are no statistics, it must be said, that indicate higher levels of domestic violence in Muslim or immigrant families living in comparable circumstances. Indeed, a greater number of poor immigrant families live in poor areas affected by mass unemployment. This is not to deny that Muslim women are oppressed. But this oppression does not have its roots in Islam – it is rooted in the role played by the family under capitalism. The idea that oppression can be fought by stigmatizing this symbol or focusing on the religious issue has no credibility other than Orientalism.

Indeed, our “secular and democratic” society abounds with symbols and structures that reproduce oppression. Marriage is the prime example, but it is much broader than this, as “the idea of ​​property extends far beyond the boundaries of legal marriage” (Alexandra Kollantai). The key site for violence against women – rape, child abuse – is the capitalist family (in 90 percent of cases of violence, the offender is part of the family or family circle[16]). No one, however, would think to argue that men who marry reproduce or are responsible for the oppression of women. However, this is the reasoning that many left-wing activists use to justify their Islamophobia of good – young Muslim women, oppressed both as Muslims and women, are forced to endure even more repression.

Young women who wear the hijab are often accused of being manipulated by fundamentalists. Alain Finkielkraut confidently stated that: “when they go to secondary school they are forced to wear a hijab. As these have no place in the institution, the young women are under the surveillance of imams who patrol the schoolyard exits to check that the hijabs are being worn correctly”.[17]

This complete fantasy is broadcast by politicians, the press and television whenever such incidents occur. An excellent sociological study has shown how unfounded it is: “The incidents behind school exclusions, in Mantes or Lille, Strasbourg or Goussainville, helped to prove that in many cases the headscarf is not imposed by the family, but is freely chosen – not tried on. as submission, but as self-assertion. These young women are the product of a society that for ten years has dedicated itself to the persecution of North African immigrants.”[18]

Gaspard and Khosrokhavar's book has some startling revelations: “We met a good number of young women wearing the headscarf who seemed to us closer to modern attitudes than some adults and young women who did not wear the headscarf. A good number of them oppose polygamy, not being allowed to work outside the home, inequality of rights in certain areas, etc. When they argue with each other, they are not willing to give up their autonomy. It's not about staying at home or accepting an arranged marriage. Even with her hair covered, her movements follow the body sensibility of French society, not traditional Islamic society. When they are in recreation, their movements and the way they relate to girls and boys show this very well. They don't avoid bodily contact with others: they don't exist in an impenetrable “shame space” for boys; show no apprehension of mixing with them. They hardly embody the strict ethics of traditional Mediterranean societies”.[19]

In 1994, the Minister of Education, François Bayrou, sent two women from an immigrant background to represent the ministry in talks with young women wearing the Hijab. The report, which received little publicity, goes against all preconceptions. A representative reported: “Paradoxically, the phenomenon is one of emancipation. With the hijab, they feel free. By placing themselves under God's authority, they feel free from the authority of their parents and siblings. One young woman even told me that since she wore the veil, she would go to debates and conferences”.[20]

Pierre Tévamian underlines how simplistic it is to equate 'hijab' and 'submission'. Young women can use the veil as a means of liberation, despite being dominated in other ways. This is not to idealize the role played by religion, but to show that religion, as an instrument of domination, can play a role in constructing an identity – it can be a means of resistance in a racist society where immigrants and Muslims they are oppressed. In fact, state racism has increased as successive austerity policies have pushed entire sections of the population to the peripheries.

Those who defend discrimination highlight Islam as: “The veil is not a simple religious symbol, like the cross worn by girls and boys around the neck”, it is “the yellow star of the female condition”[21]. Islam is compared to fascism as something that must be fought. A right-wing deputy made this clear when he argued that the law should not be against religious symbols in general, on the contrary, the Islamic headscarf had to be banned because it posed a specific threat. Comparing the hijab in France with fascism is complete nonsense.

A widespread (and particularly shocking) confusion on the part of some people is how Islam in France was merged with Islam in countries like Saudi Arabia. The two cannot be compared. Young women who wear hijab in France cannot be blamed for the situation there. However, some say that wearing the scarf in France is to legitimize attacks on women in those countries. This is completely absurd. Young women who wear the hijab in France want to protect their rights. They fight for the right to study in public education, and not to attend a religious school. As one Censier University student put it, “One can fight here for the right to freely wear the scarf, as well as support the struggle of women in Iran to have the right not to wear it”.[22]

In France, the biggest threat to women's rights today comes from the government, not young Muslim women. French law, so democratic, wants to reintroduce subsidies for mothers and send women back home. His pension reforms affect women in particular. We must fight for more resources for the emancipation of women.

Because discrimination is a reality, the oppressed can be led to believe that oppression is the main reason for their situation. Because Muslims are discriminated against in France. In this way, it can be interpreted that pride and affirmation of the Muslim religion itself in a racist and Islamophobic society can be a form of resistance struggle, because it leads to a confrontation with racist and imperialist prejudices. In the 60s, Malcolm X. and boxer Muhammad Ali[23] explained that they joined the Nation of Islam because the descendants of slaves had to break with the religion of slaves. This statement led them to confront the oppressive and racist North American State.

Many on the left and far left justify their current support of Islamophobia in the name of fighting women's oppression – even if that means fighting these women rather than alongside them. Such a concept of struggle leads to the notion that a well-meaning minority in possession of the truth can convince the majority regardless of any process by which consciousness is raised through the experience of struggle and the clash of ideas.

Young Muslim women thus become a threat to be fought and isolated. They are excluded from an anti-racist struggle through which they can then be won over to other struggles – against machismo and against capitalism. We find this kind of reasoning in other circumstances. The justification given for the war in Afghanistan was that it would free Afghan women from their oppression, from the burqa. The truth was that no emancipation could be brought about from abroad, much less by relying on the State, itself patriarchal, racist and imperialist. As Yves Sintamer put it in a forum about discrimination in Aubervilliers, 'Emancipate young women by force'[24] it is totally illusory. Our vision is one of self-emancipation. The oppressed and the exploited can free themselves through their own struggle.

Exclusions can only be counterproductive. They isolate young Muslim women from other people, and only strengthen them in their world view that the conflict is between Muslims and non-Muslims.

As previously mentioned, the argument most often presented by the French to justify exclusion and discrimination in the school environment is the need to defend secularism, which would be undermined by girls who wear hijab. The main definition of secularity is that the school is “independent of all religious denominations”[25]. This does not mean that students in schools lack religious convictions. Those running the current system maintain the theory that modern schooling is impartial. The school must be an apolitical 'sanctuary', protecting children from disputes between adults. However, the modern school is anything but impartial, as its history demonstrates.[26]

The scarf discussion raises an important and complex question about oppression to which Marxists must have an answer. Because the prejudices that divide the French from the Arabs, the Christians from the Muslims, are major obstacles on the way to the emancipation of the workers, revolutionaries must irreducibly defend the oppressed. The oppressed (in this case, Muslims in France) cannot be required to first rid themselves of ambiguous aspects of their thinking before fighting their own oppression. This amounts to denying the role that oppression plays in ensuring ruling class dominance.

The reality is that anti-Muslim racism weakens the working class as a whole and further divides their common interests. Not fighting it can have serious consequences. An important event that needs to be recalled, at the time of instability in the French automobile industry in the early 80s, Pierre Mauroy, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Party, declared that it was a strike “manipulated by ayatollahs”[27]. He wanted to break the strike in the industry sector where most of the workers were immigrants. In 1982, when Citroën went on strike, management attempted the same provocation. They offered only pork and wine to union delegates, many of whom were workers of Islamic origin. What the leadership did not foresee was that this would be refused by each of the delegates, both French and immigrants.

Lenin put the matter very simply in 1902. He wrote that when workers strike for wage increases they are trade unionists, but when they strike in protest against violence against Jews or students, they become true socialists. Solidarity with young Muslim women will strengthen the unity of all workers, regardless of their religion. This will not only have a powerful impact on the fight against racism. It will bolster confidence to fight big business.

*Gercyane Oliveira is a graduate student in Social Sciences at Unifesp.


[1] GROS, MJ Status quo au lycée d'Aubervilliers. Libération. Paris, September 30th. 2003. Available at: https://www.liberation.fr/societe/2003/09/30/statu-quo-au-lycee-d-aubervilliers_446553/.

[2] TERNISIEN, X. Etre musulman en France. Le Monde. Paris, 29 April 2003. Available at: https://www.lemonde.fr/a-la-une/article/2003/04/29/etre-musulman-en-france-2-2_318534_3208.html.

[3] LCI, October 24, 2003, acrimet.samizdat.net

[4] Fr Tevanian, The spark, No. 32 (October 2003).

[5] CALLINICOS, A. Race and Class. International Socialism: A barracks journal of socialist theory. London, v. 55, no. 2, p. 3-39, 1992. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/callinicos/1992/xx/race-class.html.

[6] Quoted in D. Godard, Pourquoi devenir socialiste révolutionnaire (Socialism International.

[7] K. Marx and F. Engels, On Britain (Moscow 1962), p. 552.

[8] 'Le voile à l'assaut des Écoles'.

[9] WIEVIORKA, M. L'avenir de I'islam en France et em Europe. Balland: Paris, 2003.

[10] Ternisien, X. La France des mosquitoes (Albin Michel edition, September 2002).

[11] Note: A group of former left-wing intellectuals who play an ideological role similar to that of humanitarian imperialist “thinkers” in Britain.

[12] BALIBAR, E.; BRAUMAN, R.; BUTLER, J.; CYPEL, S.; HAZAN, E.; LINDENBERG, D.; SAINT-UPÉRY, M.; SIEFFER, D.; WARSCHAWSKI, M. In: Antisémitisme, L'intolérable blackmail. [S.l.]: La Découverte, 2003.

[13] Reuters, after the AZF explosion, 21 November 2001.

[14] BOUNIOT, S. Abderazak Besseghir, “terrorist” engendré par notre ère sécuritaire. Humanity, [ S.l.], 14 Jan. 2003. Available at: https://www.humanite.fr/abderazak-besseghir-terroriste-engendre-par-notre-ere-securitaire-278085.

[15] SALOM, G. SEKSIG, A. En acceptant le foulard à l'école, on risque de transformer chaque musulman en intégriste. L'Etat doit légiférer. Clarté, fermeté, laïcité. Libération. Paris, 12 Nov. 1999. Available at: https://www.liberation.fr/tribune/1999/11/12/en-acceptant-le-foulard-al-ecole-on-risque-de-transformer-chaque-musulman-en-integriste -l-etat-doit_290415/. Accessed on: 03 Jun. 2021.

[16] National survey on violence against women in France.

[17] FINKIELKRAUT, A. Le foulard et l'espace sacré de l'école. Les mots sont importanttants. [S. l.], 26 Nov. 2003. Available at: https://lmsi.net/Annexe-le-texte-d-Alain.

[18] GASPARD, F.; KHOSROKHAVAR, F. Le foulard et la republic. Paris: La Découverte, 1995.

[19] Id., Ibid.

[20] Libération, 8 December 1994.

[21] DJAVANN, C. Bas les voiles. [S.l.]: Gallimard Education, 2003

[22] The spark. This echoes the statement by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner: “The veil must not be used as a pretext to close schools for young Muslim women. School is a place of freedom for women. The fundamentalists don't want them to go there”, she argued (December 15, 2003).

[23] ALI. Directed by: Michael Mann. [S.l.], 2001. (157 min).

[24] 'Ne pas émanciper les filles de force', Forum with Irène Jami, Anne-Sophie Perriaux, Yves Sintamer and Gilbert Wasserman, Libération, 1 October 2003.

[25] LAITY. In: Petit Robert dictionary. [S.l.]: Le Robert, 2017.

[26] BOULANGÉ, A. L'Éducation n'est pas une marchandise. Socialism Paribas. Available at: www.socialismeparenbas.org.

[27] VIAL, JP Echange of letters between le MRAP, la LDH et LO. Lutte Ouvrière: union communiste (trotskyste). n. 1763, 10 May 2002. Available at: https://journal.lutte-ouvriere.org/2002/05/10/echange-de-lettres-entre-le-mrap-la-ldh-et-lo_4719.html.


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