The Council of Europe, a human rights body, has backed away from a campaign to promote diversity among women and support their freedom to wear the Islamic headscarf, after the efforts sparked outcry from France.
The European Union co-financed the online campaign launched by the Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, last week, but it provoked the ire of the far-right in France as it prepares for presidential election campaigns next spring.
In one of the campaign’s publicity efforts, photos circulating on Twitter showed two smiling girls cut in half fused together, one with bare hair and the other wearing a headscarf.
In one of the slogans, the campaign said: “Beauty is in diversity and freedom in hijab. How boring would it be if everyone looked the same? Celebrate diversity and respect the hijab.”
The campaign activities initially went unnoticed by much fanfare, but they were exploited by right-wing anti-immigration campaigners who seek to end President Emmanuel Macron’s rule in next year’s elections and are among the staunch opponents of the headscarf in public.
In a tweet, right-wing politician Eric Zemmour, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy, wrote: “Islam is the enemy of freedom, this campaign is the enemy of truth.” Some pollsters expect Zemmour to reach the second run-off against Macron.
For her part, Marine Le Pen, the right-wing leader, and Macron’s main challenger in the 2017 elections said: