All of them are facing stop signs of one kind or another in French society because they wear the head-covering veil or hijab. “I broke out in tears,” says one of them, recalling the day she was told she couldn’t accompany her small child on a school trip.
For generations France made little effort to include newcomers from its former colonies in North Africa, say critics. Now, two recent bans against religious veiling put French Muslim girls and women at the center of the country’s simmering immigration debate.
Tired of the polarizing effects of wearing the hijab after a 2004 ban and two more that followed, Muslim women in France are struggling to cope with a scarcity of social acceptance. Among the dozen women interviewed, some are thinking of leaving for good.