Following a campaign of vitriol and threats, Decathlon (a multinational sportswear retailer) announced their decision to remove runners’ hijabs from their stores and website in France. The European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW), GTTO-partner for Francophone Belgium, published an open letter denouncing social media and conventional publications for stigmatising Muslim women through sensationalist and hysterical coverage of the headscarf.
Last month, Decathlon released a line of running hijabs on their French website. This was met with harsh criticism by mainstream French publications, like Le Figaro. On social media, ordinary users and prominent French politicians alike poured vitriol on the company. One Twitter-user, Lydia Guirou the spokesperson for the Republican Party hysterically accused Decathlon of “submitting to Islamism” and “disowning the values of our civilisation”. EFOMW point out that with some exceptions this backlash was framed through “deceptive arguments on public freedoms, secularism and feminism” in order “to mislead the public”.
Affirming the right of all Muslim and other women to participate in sport, EFOMW published an open letter demanding change on International Women’s Day. Sign and share this letter on social media to help spread the word!