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French sports shop pulls runner's hijab after political reaction



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By Reuters

PARIS – A French sports goods chain withdrew a hijab from its joggers after being attacked by politicians and by social media.

Originally created in the Moroccan market at the request of its customers, Decathlon's "running hijab" – a nylon hood designed to allow Muslim women to cover their hair while running – provoked the Indignation in France as politicians across the political spectrum considered it a violation of French principles of secularism.

After days of acrimonious public debate and virulent criticism on social media, the sporting goods retailer said in a statement Tuesday that it had suspended the sale of the article in France for security reasons and threats to its staff. on social media.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said Wednesday that sports shops are free to sell the current hijab and that there is no legal objection.

"The debate on this issue has become hysterical and I regret it," she told France Info radio.

In secular France, officials can not wear veil covering the hair during working hours and the veil covering the face is forbidden for all in the public space. Clothing considered to affirm a religious identity is often controversial, even legal.

In the summer of 2016, several French seaside towns banned the Burkini swimsuit from some Muslim women, claiming that the garment – which leaves only the face, hands and feet exposed – defies the French laws on secularism and causes public unrest.

In recent days, right and left politicians have strongly criticized Decathlon for selling the hijab.

"Decathlon denies the values ​​of our civilization on the altar of the market and communitarianism," said Lydia Guirous, spokesman for the conservative Republican Party, of Algerian origin, on her Twitter feed.

Socialist lawmaker Valerie Rabault has suggested the boycott of Decathlon, one of Europe's largest sporting goods retailers.

Even Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist government has stood up against the hijab.

"I attach more importance to the freedom of women than to commercial freedom," he told French radio Europe 1.

The jogging hijab is still available on the Decathlon site in Morocco for $ 8.29.

Similar clothing covering the head, not expressly associated with Islam, such as hoods for hunting or trekking in the desert, are still available in French Decathlon stores.

Nike Inc. – among other suppliers – still sells sports hijabs in three colors priced at $ 34.20 on its French website.


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