A French law separates the church and state in France, which means that those working for public sector employers are not to wear any clothing or accessory that is identified as religious. This includes kippahs, crosses and also hijabs. However, if a hijabi decided to work for a private sector employer, it is the choice of the employer to decide whether this can be allowed or not.
To accommodate the many hijab-wearing Muslim women in France, two French Muslim women launched a very new and unique platform called JobHijab. In France, private sector companies are at liberty to disclose whether the hijab is accepted or not at any time in the job application process. For this reason, it becomes difficult for many hijab-wearing women who apply for a job, only to find out after the interview that they cannot work there if they wear a hijab.
JobHijab was created to address this very problem. Two young French Muslim women – namely, 21-year-old Yasmine Derrouaz and 19-year-old Hanya Cheikh – came together to find a solution. According to The Times, the two created the website and its accompanying Instagram account to save women from the frustration of applying for jobs that would later “require them to choose between their religion and their career”.
How is JobHijab Different?
Listing only employers and companies which allow women who wear the hijab to work there, JobHijab also goes the extra mile by specifying the companies and employers that also grant time for daily prayers. For many French Muslim women, the choices are tough as they face daily challenges with getting a job simply because of their hijab.
For Cheikh, this is a matter of utter humiliation. Teaching English in private schools whilst she studies communications at university, Cheikh often found that employers would not reply to her applications, especially after disclosing that she wore the hijab.
To help other Muslim women who wear the hijab, Derrouaz and Cheikh partnered up and have since helped over 100 Muslim women find jobs. Due to the popularity of the service, JobHijab has now amassed over 30,000 followers across several social media platforms.
Speaking to The Times, Derrouaz said, “We are always reduced to our headscarf in France. People think we are incompetent or we are oppressed. It’s sad and it’s not true. That’s why we set up this website, to prove that we are not just our religion.”
France and Islamophobia
Despite the country’s large Muslim population, Muslims in France – for a long time now – have been subject to Islamophobia on a daily basis.
Macron, who has been a primary cause of the rise of Islamophobia in France, has on multiple occasions made decisions that have affected the French Muslims
From defending xenophobic caricatures produced by the French Media to raiding and closing down mosques, he has frequently targeted minorities, particularly Muslims. Last year, France introduced the new separatism law, which according to a report by Al Jazeera, “is discriminatory and targets France’s 5.7 million-strong Muslim community, the largest in Europe.”
Since then, Muslim activists have responded by boycotting French products and introducing the popular #BoycottFrance movement, which took place in Qatar in 2020.
Main Image Credit: Yasmine Derrouaz (LinkedIn)
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
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