— Published 3 October 2023

The hijab issue fuels divisions

Predictable. The ban announced by the Minister for Sport, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, on the wearing of the Islamic veil in the French delegation to the Paris 2024 Games continues to fuel controversy. After the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its opposition in principle last month, the sports branch of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has now joined the debate. The Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF), based in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and with 57 member countries, most of them Muslim, explained in a press release on Monday 2 October that the Islamic veil was “an aspect of the identity of many Muslim women and must be respected”. In her view, banning the headscarf could prevent some French Muslim athletes from taking part in the Games. “By banning its athletes from wearing the hijab, a host country would be sending a message of exclusion, intolerance and discrimination that runs counter to the Olympic spirit“, the body insisted. The ISSF is responsible for organising the Islamic Solidarity Games, the next edition of which is scheduled to take place in Cameroon in 2025.