A Special Guest Post from Ēmmānuēl Mācrōn, President of France

The year 2020 has certainly been a time of upheavals, and of changes to our society that none of us ever expected. I realize that there’s been a bit of back-and-forth about France’s policy on women covering their faces. It’s certainly understandable if anyone is confused about the underlying logic, so let me just spell it out for you: we’re the ones who decide whether you should cover your face or not.

Before COVID, I know a lot of people felt pretty strongly about face coverings. You’d see people saying stuff like this on Twitter: “As a Member of Parliament and a feminist, committed to Republican values, to laicite and women’s rights, I cannot accept someone who enters a National Assembly hearing wearing a hijab, which for me remains a mark of submission.” And now of course wearing a face mask is mandatory for everyone.

Woman wearing a hijab and face mask

President Macron announces whether Muslim women should cover their faces or not.

I know that can seem a little hypocritical or inconsistent, so let me just explain the underlying logic for you: we’re the ones who decide whether you cover your face or not.

These are highly charged issues to begin with, and I realize we haven’t always communicated clearly. So let’s get on the same page here: in the future you’re just going to do what we say.

It might come down to personal freedom. It might come down to public health. I really can’t predict the future. But I know this much: we’ll be the ones to decide, and not you.

Woman wearing a hijab and face mask

A Muslim woman exercises her freedom to comply with the dictates of the French government.

This is one of those thorny political issues where there’s not always a right and a wrong. Should society protect people’s free exercise of religion? Or should it protect against overt displays of religion? Do individual freedoms trump public health concerns, or is it the other way around? These are issues that it may take a long time to hammer out, and I assure you we’ll let you know as soon as we’ve decided what you should do.

So until the dust settles, I encourage you to engage with your religious leaders, family members, and with your own conscience about whether you ought to cover your face or not. But don’t stress out over the decision too much, because in the end it’ll be our call.