After the Senate rejected to vote on the bill on Wednesday, a draught bill prohibiting the wearing of the hijab at sporting events will be sent to France’s National Assembly.
The bill’s overall goal is to “democratise sport,” which includes how the major athletic federations are run. However, it contains a language saying that the wearing “of prominent religious symbols is forbidden” in events and contests organised by sports federations, which was earlier inserted as an amendment by the conservative-dominated upper chamber.
In France, a strongly secular country with Europe’s largest Muslim population, the role of religion and religious symbols are worn in public has long been a source of contention.
The Summer Olympics will be held in France in 2024, and critics of the legislation have questioned how it will influence protocol at the Games, which will include conservative Muslim countries.
Identity and Islam’s position in French society are heated topics ahead of the presidential election in April, with two far-right contenders whose nationalist platforms challenge Islam’s compatibility with the Republic’s principles garnering about 35% of voter support between them.