A "veil law" in 2004. A "niqab ban" in 2010. An illegal "burkini ban" in several French towns. But if a well-known artist like Cardi B appears in head-to-toe covering as a fashion (political?) statement, authorities tend to forget (or turn a blind eye) that such bans are in place.
Over the weekend, the American rapper debuted one of her looks for Paris Fashion Week as she posed in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in a floral face-covering and bodysuit by designer Richard Quinn. Cardi B posted a video of her look on Twitter and Instagram.
"I'm here to serve it to you cold. Make sure a car don't hit me 'cause a b*tch can't see," the rapper says in the video.
Maybe the video would've gone unnoticed if France didn't have a niqab ban in place. In reality, the ban exists and it seems as though it's only used to discriminate against Muslim women who wear it for religious reasons and not artists attending Paris Fashion Week.
The floral fabric has prompted a discussion regarding France's controversial face-covering ban. The 2010 law forbids "any article of clothing intended to conceal the face" in public spaces. It was deemed a violation of human rights by a UN committee in 2018.
France has often been seen as intolerant of conservative Muslim traditions. The country banned students from wearing any religious symbols in public schools back in 2004. The banning of niqabs came into effect in 2011; women can be fined up to 150 euros ($172) for donning the face-covering in public. Several French municipalities have also attempted to ban the burkini at public beaches in their jurisdiction back in 2016. However, these burkini bans were overturned in court as a violation of an individual's fundamental freedoms. Though illegal, Muslim women have been discriminated against in this regard on multiple occasions.
So it's only natural to see people drawing parallels between Cardi B's "fashion choices" and Muslim women's "religious choices" to highlight France's Islamophobic policies and laws. For Islamophobes, the former is viewed as freedom, while the latter is dubbed oppression. This is exactly what Cardi B's recent outfit shed light on — whether intentionally or unintentionally. She didn't get fined for doing so, but I guarantee you a Muslim woman would've been penalized for it. It's actually happened before, so it's not just an assumption, it's reality.