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Macron warns on stigmatising Muslims amid France hijab row

Emmanuel Macro, French president.
Emmanuel Macro, French president.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against “stigmatising” Muslims or linking the Islamic religion with the fight against terrorism.

“We have to stand together with all our fellow citizens,” Mr Macron said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.

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It came as a French woman said she was taking legal action against far-right politicians who criticised her for wearing an Islamic headscarf (hijab) in public.

France has about five million Muslims being the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe.

Wearing the Muslim headscarf or veil – known as a hijab – is banned in French schools, government offices and some other public buildings.

France is officially a secular state and body-covering garments have been at the centre of a number of controversies in recent years.

Last week, a Muslim mother who wore a headscarf during a school trip with her son to the regional parliament in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in eastern France received verbal abuse from the chamber.

An image of the woman – given the name Fatima – embracing her son was widely shared after footage of the incident was posted on social media.

It also sparked street demonstrations in the area and has renewed a national debate over the Muslim veil. France currently has no law banning mothers from wearing the hijab on school trips.

On Wednesday, Mr Macron called for a better understanding of the Muslim religion in France and condemned what he described as the “fatal shortcut” of linking Islam with terrorism.

“There is a lot of irresponsibility among political commentators,” he said, adding: “Communalism is not terrorism.”

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