Paris police ban hijab protest football match outside parliament

Paris police have banned what they describe as a ‘demonstration’ in which a group of women intended to play football outside the French parliament while wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Paris police ban hijab protest football match outside parliament
Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

Wednesday’s event – a game of football on the esplanade des Invalides, next to the Palais Bourbon which houses the National Assembly – was planned by Les Hijabeuses, a group of Muslim women, to protest against an amendment to a sports bill making its way through Parliament that would prohibit the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols while participating in sporting events.

The match was timed to coincide with the bill – on the democratisation of sport – returning to the Assembly after the contentious amendment was added in the Senate at an earlier reading.

READ ALSO OPINION: Muslim headscarves are legal in France, so why the moral panic about a sports hijab?

“It is feared that this demonstration will attract, in addition to those who support it, people hostile to the cause,” the Préfecture de Police said in a statement published on Twitter.

The ban on the rally was justified, “both for the safety of the demonstrators themselves and for the maintenance of public order,” it added.

The group is, however, not giving up without a fight. “We have obviously taken the case to court to challenge this arbitrary, unfair and completely disproportionate, act” said the collective on Twitter after the announcement by the Prefecture of Police.

READ ALSO ‘My body, my choice’ – French Muslim women speak out about headscarves

“A hearing will take place tomorrow morning, and we hope that the Prefecture will be brought to reconsider this ban. On our side, we will play whatever happens. Surely elsewhere … but we will play,” said the collective on the social network.

Les Hijabeuses staged a similar demonstration in front of the Senate last week. They were moved on by gendarmes.

A week previously, senators had added an amendment prohibiting the wearing of “conspicuous religious symbols” during a sports competition, which is not supported by the government and was promptly removed by MPs in the parliament.

The bill is due before the Assembly again on Wednesday, before its final readings on February 16th.

The French Football Federation still prohibits the wearing of the headscarf within its championships, despite the fact that Fifa authorised it in 2014.

Due to France’s laws of laïcité (secularism) conspicuous religious garments such as the hijab are banned in government buildings such as schools or local government officers, while public servants such as police officers are banned from wearing them while on duty.

The full-face veil is banned in all public spaces in France.

READ ALSO What does laïcité really mean in France?

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.