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Tristane Banon: “Promoting a veiled girl while Iranian women are fighting for their freedom is indecent”


FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW - Briefly posted on social media, a European Commission poster promoting an education initiative depicted a veiled girl. For the essayist, the symbolism of the veil is incompatible with true European values.

Tristane Banon is a novelist and essayist.

Latest book published:

La paix des sexes

(ed. by L'Observatoire, 2021).


- For ten days, Iran has been plagued by violent demonstrations after the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, accused of having worn her veil badly.

On September 22, the European Commission posted a poster on social media promoting an education initiative that depicted a girl wearing a veil, sparking widespread anger, particularly in France.

It has since been deleted.

In this context, do these posters raise more questions?

Tristane BANON.


No, it makes them indecent.

Perfectly indecent.

Iranian women repeat to the world the meaning of the veil, they risk their lives, burning their hijab publicly, to denounce how the veil is not only a garment but also the symbol of a whole patriarchal organization of society and relationships between beings.

The death of the now emblematic Mahsa Amini, this 22-year-old Iranian woman, murdered by the morality police of her country for having put on her veil incorrectly, provoked the revolt of the people, all classes combined.

This movement began on September 16, 2022. Less than a week later, on September 22, with this advertisement featuring a veiled little girl


Europe replied to them, in essence: “

Yes, but you, Iranian women, are forced to do so!

When we are free to wear it, the values ​​of the veil become ours and we advertise them


Read alsoHow Iran made the veil the banner of Islamism and how the West has understood nothing for forty years

No, the values ​​of the veil are not those of Europe any more than they are those of the Iranian demonstrators, women and men united moreover, it is important to repeat this.

The difference between the obligation to wear the veil and the freedom to wear it is not to be found in the meaning of the veil, which absolutely does not change, it is in the comparison between a religious dictatorship and countries free.

This scandalous campaign was withdrawn by the Commission, affecting childhood, and the freedom of very young people to make their own choices in conscience, was an additional blunder that the Commission did not have the nerve to assume for a long time .

The publicity of the veiled woman remains at the time when I answer you.

When we compare the obligation to wear the veil and the freedom to wear the veil, we are not comparing different veils, we are comparing different political regimes!

The Iranian rebels know it, the European Commission pretends not to understand it.

What is the symbolism of the veil, which is not a garment like the others?

It is that of the submission of women and their objectification, it is not said otherwise in the Koran.

Tristane Banon

This is not the first time that a European body has promoted a veiled person...

What bothers me, because it bothers me, is not the will, put forward, to say that it would not be bearable to exclude veiled women from the public space or even to cast opprobrium on them .

No, that's obvious, and there were a thousand other ways of saying that no one should be rejected from the European area because of their dress, whether it's because they wear a veil or because she adorns herself with any other item of clothing.

What bothers me deeply is that when we advertise, because that's what it's all about, we highlight values, codes that we want to be ours, markers that are ours .

Now, what is the symbolism of the veil, which is not a garment like the others?


Read alsoFatiha Boudjahlat and Jeannette Bougrab: two women opposed to the Islamic veil

Some preachers, not all, ask (or order in some countries) women to wear the veil because they must not arouse the envy of men other than their husbands, to whom they belong, nor cause the possibility of possible adultery. .

For that, and to mark the proof of a territorial and political influence when they decide to generalize this request (or this obligation) to single women and children.

That some women submit to these sexist religious injunctions and voluntarily wear the veil changes absolutely nothing to the symbolism of the garment.

Once again, I spoke out against the will of the National Rally to ban the wearing of the veil in public space, it was on its presidential program.

I am for individual freedoms,

and the freedom to wear on the public highway a garment which is a symbol of feminine inferiority is an absolute and indisputable individual freedom.

But whether you have the choice of writing with a pen or writing with a pencil, doesn't change the fact that you have a pen and a pencil there.

The veil is a sexist symbol, whether the woman feels free to wear it or not makes no difference.

However, there is in European values ​​this fundamental idea that we are all equal, regardless of our sex.

Women do not belong to anyone but themselves, according to European principles.

This is what Europe must highlight.

It is this fundamental value that is undermined, disavowed, when the European Commission decides to adopt, to represent it as an advertising image, the photo of a veiled woman.

One cannot, at the same time, defend equality between the sexes and decide to show an advertisement which puts forward the visible proof that some apply gender inequality.

Tristan Banon

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responded to the criticism: "Women's rights and gender equality are a priority for the Commission, and the EU strategy on gender equality for the period 2020-2025 sets out the main actions in this area,” she said.

Is there a contradiction between the defense of gender equality and this poster?

Yes, of course, for the reasons I have just explained.

One cannot, at the same time, defend equality between the sexes and decide to show an advertisement which puts forward the visible proof that some apply gender inequality.

We understand that this is a dangerous balancing act which consists of continuing to defend European values ​​on the one hand, and that is what Mariya Gabriel said, while meeting the expectations and the pressure from politico-religious currents who want their codes to be put forward and promoted on a European scale.

The entry into the European authorities of these currents is obvious, and this publicity is only an additional proof of it.

To read alsoTristane Banon and Jean-Michel Delacomptée: “Will the War of the sexes take place?”

The European Commission has also stated: “The aim of the European Year of Youth campaign, to which the Honorable Member refers, is to promote inclusion, diversity and unity within the EU.

It does not promote any particular religion or clothing.

Is this justification sufficient?

If that was the goal, then it failed, otherwise there wouldn't have been so much debate!

Again, to advertise, whichever way you turn it, is to promote, for that matter the words are more or less synonymous.

However, promoting clothing that symbolizes exclusion in order to promote inclusion is a dubious step.

Why exclusion?

Because by veiling the woman, by making her submissive to the man and by making her a thing, we exclude her, somewhere, from life, from self-determination, from freedom.

Once again, this submission to patriarchal codes may be perfectly voluntary, we can exclude ourselves with a lot of conviction, but that doesn't change anything.

In addition, we should also think about these neighborhoods, these communities, within which women have no choice... Fight against the injunction to wear the veil within one's community when authorities such as Europe advertise it, it complicates the task.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2022-09-29

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