In France, a Muslim woman wearing a burqa or a niqab in a public space can face a fine up to €150. Apparently, however, celebrities who attend Paris fashion week like Cardi B are exempt from the law.
The 26-year old rapper recently wore a head-to-toe green floral outfit designed by Richard Quinn to Paris Fashion Week. She also posed for pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, which the last time I checked, definitely qualifies as a public space.
The outfit covered her face and eyes, directly violating a French law that makes the wearing of face-covering veils and masks in a public space illegal. However, Cardi B was able to walk down the streets of Paris, unaccosted by police officers and even posted a video on Instagram, where she can be heard saying, “Make sure a car don’t hit me, because a bitch can’t see.”
A Muslim woman doing the same thing, on the other hand, would stand the chance of putting her life at risk, drawing insults from passersby, and/or even be fined or arrested by the police. It appears, though, that celebrities who wear similar garments in the name of fashion, are blissfully exempt from such concerns and are lauded by the international community.
In fact, Cardi B’s ensemble drew praise from Vogue, which posted an article entitled, “Cardi B Wins Paris Fashion Week With Her Boldest Look Yet.”
Cardi’s outfit, which the French government and the police force would normally find unacceptable, points out how the French ban on the burqa and niqab has less to do with citizen safety and more about the thinly-disguised Islamophobia and white supremacy that is rampant in such nations.
The controversial ban was announced back in April 2011 on the grounds that such garments obscured facial recognition, positing the wearer as a “security risk”. Yet the fact that celebrities can get away with it in the name of fashion highlights the deep-rooted Islamophobia that seeks to deny Muslim citizens of their individual freedoms.
Not only does it force a minority community to assimilate into white society at the cost of their own culture, it also deprives Muslim women the right to choose to wear a burqa or not. Via this sexist law that polices women’s bodies in the name of secularism, an ordinary citizen is immediately singled out and becomes a threat to society, despite having engaged in no criminal behavior.
In fact, women choosing to wear the veil after the ban have been insulted, had their veils ripped off by complete strangers, and even attacked by the public. In a noted case, a pregnant woman wearing the veil was attacked in a Parisian suburb and suffered a miscarriage. Similarly, a Muslim woman wearing a burkini was forced to strip in a public beach surrounded by three armed police officers, even as the public took photos.
The fact that Cardi B, by the virtue of being a celebrity, suffered none of these consequences, points out the double standards of the French government. Despite the law apparently applying “equally” to all citizens, it is only the average Muslim woman who is victimized by it, whose religious freedom and identity are restricted, and whose very presence in the country is deemed as unwelcome and dangerous.
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Feature photo by Tomás Herold
Archita Mittra is a writer and artist, with a love for all things vintage, whimsy and darkly fantastical. She occasionally reads tarot cards, has more hobbies than she can count and loves blueberry milkshakes.She lives in Calcutta (India) with her family and rabbits.