With French President Jacques Chirac's decision to ban religious insignia from schools, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the US and Canada is calling upon people of conscience to join them in protesting this infringement upon liberty and religious tolerance. The MSA of the US and Canada (MSA) believes that President Chirac's ban on religious wear - which specifically targets Muslim females who wear hijab - signals one of the greatest setbacks for freedom and democracy in France since it became one of the democratic powers of the world. To deny a woman her God-given right to freely practice her religion does not only constitute a violation of her personal freedom, but it defies the very concept of secularism. By officially prohibiting religious practices that have no correlation with state functions, President Chirac is leading France down a dangerous path of banning the acts of the religiously devout in the name of secularism.
MSA is calling upon President Chirac to rescind his order, which jeopardizes the religious rights of all schoolchildren in the state of France to dress according to their religious mandates without discrimination, fear or legal persecution. By curtailing the religious rights of its citizens, France is consequently jeopardizing the most cherished and fundamental principle of its foundation, liberty.
A woman's decision to wear hijab is a personal and private matter, which reflects her commitment to God and her desire not to expose her hair and body to strange men. To claim that a woman's decision to dress modestly in public somehow infringes upon the rights of others around her defies common sense and raises questions as to the real motive behind this proscription. "As an American Muslim, my decision to wear hijab does not conflict with being both an American and a Muslim. The hijab is simply my personal desire to observe God's commandments of modesty," said Lina Hashem, Vice President USA MSA.
MSA will join the international day of protest in conjunction with human rights, civil rights and religious organizations around the world on Jan. 17, 2004. The protest will take place in cities where French consulates reside including: Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; Miami, FL; San Francisco, CA; and New York City, NY. A 48-hour call-in and email campaign will precede the protest, as all participating organizations will ask their members to call or email the French consulates to vocalize their opposition to the ban on religious wear in schools.
What: An International Day of Protest Against President Chirac's Hijab Ban
Where: French Consulates in the United States
When: Jan. 17, 2004, Saturday
Who: Muslim Students in the United States and Canada
Contact: Tareq Elgawhary, MSA President - 240-505-7850.
Hadia Mubarak, Political Action Task Force Vice Chair - 202-213-7608
Ismail Kamal, Outreach Director - 202-431-1505
The Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada
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