Thursday, 28 February 2019 14:53

France – Newspaper Claims Muslim Brotherhood Win over Running Hijab

Online newspaper Atlantico ran an interview which purported the Muslim Brotherhood was behind Décathlon’s running hijab, a case which caused controversy this month. This is France’s media monitoring highlight for February.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of February, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

France MMHDate of publication: 16 April 2019

Media Outlet: Atlantico, neo-conservative online newspaper 


Headline: “Storm over the running hijab: Decathlon – 0, Muslim Brotherhood - 1”

Description of the anti-Muslim content: This piece discusses a recent case in France when sport store Décathlon received a major backlash for offering a hijab for running on its website. Many politicians, mainly from the Right, denounced the product, claiming it is contrary to the French concept "laïcité.” Décathlon also received a lot of hateful comments on social media and through customer service channels, some of which they shared on their Twitter account. Some claimed that the running hijab was a manifestation of the Islamisation of France and a Muslim Brotherhood tactic.

The article is based on an interview with Naëm Bestandji, who is presented as a feminist and secular activist. The interviewer takes a clear stance against Décathlon, and the questions asked are extremely skewed. Some of the questions asked include: “Regarding the controversy around Decathlon and the" running Hijab ", and considering that the strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood is to generate points of tension within societies, can we not see this issue as a case study?" and “Would it not be more important to denounce the stance or useful idiots of the Muslim Brotherhood rather than to attack Décathlon, which is the symptom?" Bestandji responds to these questions in a similar inflammatory way, claiming that “Islamists are obsessed with sex, from morning till night and until the day of their death” and that Décathlon offering a running hijab is a sign of the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged increasing control in Europe. 

Myth debunked:The Muslim Brotherhood is a “transnational Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law) under a global caliphate.” They are often referred to when people, particularly from the far-Right, claim that Islam is ‘taking over’ in Europe. In this case, it is clear that Atlantico is set on the idea that the running hijab from Décathlon is a Muslim Brotherhood tactic, and they leave no room for any counter argument to this idea or balancing information in their piece. Besides the headline, which clearly professes that the Muslim Brotherhood has ‘won’ in this case, the questions asked by the interviewer are extremely skewed. The questions are asked in a way that gives the interviewee no room to discuss anything apart from the Muslim Brotherhood’s supposed involvement in this case, making it seem like this theory is the only probable one. Overall, the piece is very biased, and suggests there is no alternative but to blame the Muslim Brotherhood in this case. This is of course untrue; there is no proof that the Muslim Brotherhood had any involvement with this case. The article and its assertions play directly into the false, dangerous and inflammatory narrative that Muslims are aiming to ‘take over’ Europe. 

More to read:

Decathlon drops French sports hijab after politicians threaten boycott

French Secularism Is in Crisis. What Does That Mean for Muslim Youth?


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