Rabat - A comment by the French minister of women’s rights, which compared Muslim women who wear the veil to American "Negroes" who accepted slavery, prompted listeners to post a petition for her resignation on Change.org. The petition has gained roughly 20,000 signatures in one day.
Rabat – A comment by the French minister of women’s rights, which compared Muslim women who wear the veil to American “Negroes” who accepted slavery, prompted listeners to post a petition for her resignation on Change.org. The petition has gained roughly 20,000 signatures in one day.
Laurence Rossignol made the comments during a Wednesday morning interview with RMC, a French radio station, and BFM TV. Once the show aired, thousands of listeners accused the minister of racism and united behind an online petition stating the “anachronistic comparison…is an insult to the memory of millions of individuals, families and countries destroyed by slavery and its consequences.”
The two media outlets had invited Rossignol to discuss the Islamic fashion industry, which has recently been gaining traction internationally; Dolce & Gabbana unveiled an abaya and hijab collection earlier this year.
Later in the interview, the minister reportedly criticized fashion items such as the Burqini, an especially designed swimsuit which covers the head, arms and legs, as “irresponsible”.
She later said she had made a “mistake” by using the word “Negro” – a word that holds racist undertones related to slavery – but did not retract the remark altogether.
France is home to the largest Muslim minority in Europe, but, in accordance with the country’s highly secular culture, the government banned the veil in 2011 because the covering qualified as an expression of faith in public.
Some social media posts pointed out that Rossignol previously founded an anti-racist coalition, SOS Racisme. According to the organization’s website, the group encourages the French youth population to be proactive against racism and maintains lawyers to offer legal protection to those who feel they have been unjustly discriminated against.