France, the purported bastion of personal freedoms in the world, respects what you decide to do with your body — unless you try to wrap your head with a piece of cloth while being Muslim. Politicians can then attack you over your appearance, mock your ideals and beliefs and magazines can even depict you as monkeys and it would be considered OK.
That's exactly what happened to Maryam Pougetoux, leader of a student union at Paris-Sorbonne IV University in Paris.
The 19-year-old student has been subjected to vile abuse in her country since she appeared in a documentary about ongoing student protests, over education reform.
More recently, the vile abuse was taken to a whole new level by Charlie Hebdo after she was depicted as a monkey in a caricature.
The French magazine Charlie Hebdo depicts Mariam Poutegoux, the leader of the UNEF student union at the Sorbonne, as a monkey. This isn't satire, it's straight up racism: pic.twitter.com/fv3Rnpaq1c— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) May 27, 2018
The thought bubble reads: "They chose me to head the UNEF (French National Student Union)."
The magazine has a history of using satire to cloak its inappropriate content, which, sometimes, is empty of any thought, whatsoever. Cases in point: the cartoon that depicted Hurricane Harvey victims as Neo-Nazis, the one that portrayed victims of Italian earthquake as pasta. The worst was probably the one that depicted Aylan Kurdi, a refugee child, who drowned while reaching to Europe, as a rapist.
Therefore, while it's disturbing to see Hebdo reducing a 19-year-old student, studying at one of the most prestigious universities in France, to a monkey, it's not surprising.
It is important to mention here that it is illegal to wear the Muslim headscarf in French schools and some public buildings but not in universities. So, Pougetoux wasn't violating any laws.
It's odd how, France's interior minister, Gerard Collomb, called Pougetoux's choice of clothes as a "provocation," but didn't say the same thing about the racist caricature of the student.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: STR/AFP/Getty Images