'Whether we wear a headscarf or not, we're all afraid': the views of French Muslim women

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For more than 30 years an obsession with the wearing of the headscarf has dominated public debate in France, and this presidential campaign has been no exception. The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has even suggested she might ban its wearing in public places if she is elected head of state this Sunday, April 24th. Here Mediapart speaks to French Muslim women at the centre of this incessant and damaging debate, to hear their point of view. Rachida El Azzouzi and Faïza Zerouala report.

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A piece of cloth separates them. That, at any rate, is what the two contenders in this Sunday's decisive round in the French presidential election would have us believe. When, on the campaign trail recently, he was tackled about his stance on feminism by a young woman wearing a headscarf, Emmanuel Macron asked her if she had been forced to cover her hair. She responded that she wore a scarf of her own volition. He then stated that it was “great” that a woman could ask him such a question. “It's the best response to all the nonsense I've been hearing,” said the centrist president, during the encounter at Strasbourg in north-east France.