A French lawyer has criticised the European Union over an advertisement for its Conference on the Future of Europe event featuring a hijab-wearing Muslim woman.
Thibault de Montbrial, an adviser to France’s centre-right presidential hopeful Valerie Pecresse, said the use of such an image to illustrate the continent’s future left him “speechless”.
The hijab is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women and has been the subject of a decades-long feud in France.
“The Muslim Brotherhood dared not dream of it, the useful idiots did. For my part, I will fight with all my might to avoid such a future for Europe,” de Montbrial tweeted on Wednesday, citing the political group founded in Egypt nearly a century ago.
Le choix d’une femme voilée pour illustrer une conférence «sur l’avenir de l’Europe» laisse sans voix.
Les Frères Musulmans n’osaient pas en rêver, les idiots utiles l’ont fait.
Je combattrai pour ma part de toutes mes forces pour éviter un tel avenir à l’#Europe.#islamisme pic.twitter.com/p9YIw1mQpY
— Thibault deMontbrial (@MontbrialAvocat) February 9, 2022
Translation: “The choice of a veiled woman to illustrate a conference ‘on the future of Europe’ leaves you speechless. The Muslim Brotherhood dared not dream of it, the useful idiots did. For my part, I will fight with all my might to avoid such a future for #Europe. #Islamism”
The poster for the ongoing event, which gives EU citizens the opportunity to have their say on possible reforms of the bloc’s policies and institutions, includes a call to “make your voice heard” and states “the future is in your hands”.
Picking up on de Montbrial’s outburst, Mehreen Khan, EU correspondent for the Financial Times newspaper, said the bloc was “once again being accused of being a clandestine Islamist plot puppeteered by the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ because there is a Muslim woman on a poster”.
Khan highlighted remarks made by French reporter Jean Quatremer, who claimed there were known “links” between the European Commission – the bloc’s executive arm – and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“But nothing changes, because the EU is less and less democratic,” tweeted Quatremer, the European correspondent for France’s Libération newspaper.
Khan drew comparisons between those comments and the fractious, anti-immigration, pro-Brexit campaign waged by some British politicians in 2016.
“For all those who lamented the racism of parts of the Brexit Leave campaign, in 2022 apparently serious media from the EU’s biggest country hold up Brussels as a rotten Islamist conspiracy because there are brown women in some EU stock photos archive,” she tweeted.
For all those who lamented the racism of parts of the Brexit Leave campaign, in 2022 apparently serious media from the EU's biggest country hold up Brussels as a rotten Islamist conspiracy because there are brown women in some EU stock photos archive pic.twitter.com/ofjL4B5JEn
— Mehreen (@MehreenKhn) February 9, 2022
The social media row puts France’s treatment of its minority Muslim population – the largest in Europe – back in the spotlight ahead of the country’s April presidential election.
Last month, the French Senate voted in favour of banning hijabs in sports competitions.
That move came a year after legislators in the French Parliament’s lower house approved the so-called “separatism” bill to strengthen oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs in a bid to safeguard France from “radical Islamists” and promote “respect for French values” – one of President Emmanuel Macron’s landmark projects.
Officially known as the law Reinforcing The Principles Of The Republic, Paris says the now-legally enshrined legislation will bolster France’s secular system.
Critics argue that it unfairly singles out Muslims.