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Hijabophobia is a type of religious and cultural discrimination against Muslim women.[1] The discrimination has had manifestations in public, working and educational places.


Hijabophobia is a term referring to discrimination against women wearing Islamic veils, including the hijab, chador, niqāb and burqa. It is considered a gender-specific type of Islamophobia,[2][3][1] or simply "hostility towards the hijab".[4] The term is applied to discourse based in colonial representations of Muslim women as victims oppressed by misogynistic cultures, in academic circles.[1]

According to The Gazette, hijabophobia began as a French national phenomenon, citing the 1989 headscarf affair (French: l'affaire du foulard).[5] In France, according to Ayhan Kaya, Islamophobia is mixed with hijabophobia.[6] In a 2012 paper, Hamzeh posits that 'hijabophobia' encapsulates the sexist aspects of Islamophobia, where Muslim women bear the brunt of anti-Muslim attacks.[7]:25

Political scientist Vincent Geisser argues that hijabophobia became more widespread after the September 11 attacks, as evidenced by the number of laws regulating and restricting hijab in public places and governmental offices.[8] A study found that Muslim girls in London perceived discrimination when wearing hijab outside their immediate communities, and felt social pressure to not wear hijab.[7] In addition, according to the ACLU, 69% of women who wore hijab reported at least one incident of discrimination compared to 29% of women who did not wear hijab.[9]


Working places[edit]

European Court of Justice[edit]

A ruling by European Union's top law court, European Court of Justice, on 14 March 2017[a] allowed the employers "to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols"[10] such as the hijab. The decision was criticized for disguising what Muslims described as "a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work". As a result, by 2017, two women from France and Belgium were dismissed from work since they refused to remove their hijabs. Samira Achbita, a woman from Belgium, was dismissed from working in her company (G4S) as a result of the court ruling.[10] OpenDemocracy argued that the ruling was ostensibly based on the employer's wish "to portray a position of neutrality", and hence the court ruling was a normalization of hijabophobia.[11] Al Jazeera described the ruling as setting precedent for a "de facto prevention" of employment for Muslim women wearing the hijab.[12]

Public places[edit]

There are instances where Muslim dress have been banned in public spaces. The Muslim burqa was banned by local laws in Spain in 2010, though these laws began to be overturned by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2013.[13] Similarly, in 2016, France's Council of State began to overrule a ban on the burkini by over thirty French municipalities as Islamophobic.[14] FIFA's ban of the head cover in 2011–2014 is an example of hijabophobia.[2] In 2018, Austria banned full-face coverings in order to limit the visibility of orthodox Islam. This was criticized by police who were put in the position of charging people for wearing smog and ski masks. France and Belgium have enacted a similar ban since 2011. In 2015, a partial ban was introduced in the Netherlands and the German parliament banned face coverings while driving in September 2017.[15] Hijabophobia also influences the hospitality industry in Malaysia. Hotels believe employees that wear the headdress appear less professional; therefore causing islamophobic policies to be implemented.[16]


In 1994, the French Ministry for Education sent out recommendations to teachers and headmasters to ban Islamic veil in educational institutions. According to a 2019 study by the Institute of Labor Economics, more girls with a Muslim background born after 1980 graduated from high school after the ban was introduced.[17]

In October 2018, Austria banned headscarves for children in kindergarten. The ban was motivated by protecting children from family pressure to wear the headscarf.[18] According to an Austrian teacher's union, a ban for pupils aged up to 14 years should be considered as that is the religious legal age (German: religionsmündig).[18]

In Quebec, public servants including teachers are banned from wearing religious garments such as a kippa, hijab or turban at work.[19]


In 2019, Decathlon, a French sportswear brand, made the decision to not sell hijab sportswear in France, following opposition to the clothing line from figures such as health minister Agnes Buzyn, who voiced her distaste for the garment on a radio show.[20]


Hijabophobia has led female athletes to be ineligible in sporting events due to wearing a Hijab. One example is FIFA's ‘ hijab ban’ crisis. The Iranian women's national soccer team was disqualified from the 2012 Olympics because the players wore Hijabs.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The court verdict: "the prohibition on wearing an Islamic headscarf, which arises from an internal rule of a private undertaking prohibiting the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign in the workplace, does not constitute direct discrimination based on religion or belief within the meaning of that directive."


  1. ^ a b c Hamzeh, Manal (2012). Pedagogies of Deveiling: Muslim Girls and the Hijab Discourse. IAP. ISBN 9781617357244. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b Manal, Hamzaeh (1 July 2017). "FIFA's double hijabophobia: A colonialist and Islamist alliance racializing Muslim women soccer players". Women's Studies International Forum. 63: 11–16. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2017.06.003. ISSN 0277-5395.
  3. ^ MOHAMED-SALIH, Veronica. "Stereotypes regarding Muslim men and Muslim women on the Romanian Internet: a qualitative comparative analysis for 2004-2009 and 2010-2015" (PDF). Journal of Gender and Feminist Studies (4). Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  4. ^ Shebaya, Halim (15 March 2017). "The European Court Has Normalized Hijabophobia". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  5. ^ Proceedings of the Fourth and Fifth Annual Symposia of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America. IIASA. 1999. ISBN 9781569230220. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  6. ^ Kaya, Ayhan (2012). Islam, Migration and Integration: The Age of Securitization. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137030221. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b Keddie, Amanda (2017). Supporting and Educating Young Muslim Women: Stories from Australia and the UK. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781317308539. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  8. ^ Cesari, Jocelyne (2014). The Oxford Handbook of European Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199607976.
  9. ^ "ACLU".
  10. ^ a b "Employers allowed to ban the hijab: EU court". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018. Employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the European Union's top law court ruled on Tuesday, a decision Muslims said was a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work.
  11. ^ "The European Court has normalized 'Hijabophobia'". openDemocracy. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  12. ^ Janmohamed, Shelina. "Hijab at work: EU court is authorising discrimination". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  13. ^ Ferschtman, Maxim; de la Serna, Cristina (22 March 2013). "Case Watch: Spanish Supreme Court Repeals City Burqa Ban". Case Watch. Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  14. ^ Bittermann, Jim; McKenzie, sheena; Shoichet, Catherine E. (26 August 2016). "French court suspends burkini ban". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  15. ^ Oltermann, Philip (27 March 2018). "Austrian full-face veil ban condemned as a failure by police". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  16. ^ Finieli, Salsabilla Terra; Hasan, Rusni; Zain, Nor Razinah Mohd (20 December 2018). "Hijabophobia: A Closed Eye Challenge towards Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services in Malaysia". Malaysian Journal of Syariah and Law. 6 (3): 1–9. ISSN 2590-4396.
  17. ^ "Effects of banning the Islamic veil in public schools". newsroom.iza.org. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Kopftuchverbot für Volksschüler: "Prüfen derzeit"". krone.at (in German). Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Teachers turned away over religious symbols ban as school year begins". CBC. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  20. ^ Seale, Alexander (28 February 2019). "Decathlon capitulates to French hijabophobia". trtworld.com.
  21. ^ Hamzeh, Manal (July 2017). "FIFA's double hijabophobia: A colonialist and Islamist alliance racializing Muslim women soccer players". Women's Studies International Forum. 63: 11–16. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2017.06.003.