French retailer Decathlon surrendered to public anger at the launch of sports headscarves.
By Mohammed Amine Benabou
Rabat – Decathlon has abandoned its plans to sell a sports version of a muslim headscarf in France.
Following reputable brand names such as H&M, Uniqlo, and Nike, arguably the most influential sports company worldwide, Decathlon had decided to also launch a lightweight running headscarf on the market.
Following demands from Moroccans, Decathlon’s Kalenji running head-scarf is already available for sale in Decathlon outlets in Morocco.
In France, however, many frowned upon the new sports kit designed by Decathlon, so much so that the launch of the sports hijab in France, planned for March, was canceled.
The brand received backlash from social media users, including a politician from Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, who called for a boycott of Decathlon.
In a press release, Decathlon said it “will suspend its project of Kalenji Hijabi Face for the sake of guaranteeing safety for our employees.”
The company posted on Twitter, claiming it had received 500 phone calls and emails about the headscarves and a wave of insults and threats.
The Guardian reported that French health minister Agnes Buzyn said, “It’s a vision of women that I don’t share. I would prefer if a French brand did not promote the headscarf.”
Another centrist-leaning politician, Aurore Berge from Macron’s party, tweeted, “My choice as a woman and citizen will be to no longer trust a brand which breaks with our values.”
France banned the niqab and burqa in 2010 and before that debated a bill to ban religious symbols, including the Jewish kippah and Christian cross.
Nike was not the first to introduce a hijab running suit. Oiselle, a Seattle-based company that sells athletic apparel for women, designed a special running kit for a Saudi athlete who competed in the Olympics in 2016.
Nike said its Nike Pro Hijab would “help advance the conversation around hijabs and Muslim women in sports and further make sports an inclusive space.”