Updates From the Field

Updates From the Field

7 months ago
Living Rent

On International Workers Day 2021 members across Scotland were out talking to their neighbours, in the streets defending their public services, building community land & speaking at Kill the Bill ... See more

7 months ago
Budget 2021: Hits & Misses | ACORN Canada

ACORN Canada had a big win recently with the Budget 2021, which focused on their fight against predatory loans.

To find out more about their win -- and read their analysis of the Budget -- check out ... See more

- Great first step in Stopping Predatory Lending by agreeing to do a consultation on lowering the federal interest rate. This has the potential of lowering the NSF fee.

7 months ago
ACORN Canada: Big Win on Predatory Loan Campaign

One of ACORN Canada’s long-standing and hard-fought campaigns against predatory lending got a huge boost recently upon the release of the 2021 Budget. The government has agreed to a consultat…

7 months ago
ACORN India: Informal workers seek support as Delhi prepares for another lockdown

As New Delhi prepares for another lockdown, street vendors and informal works are often the ones who pay the highest price. Dharmendra Kumar, member of the Delhi chapter of Hawkers’ Joint Action ... See more

7 months ago

As New Delhi prepares for another lockdown, street vendors and informal works are often the ones who pay the highest price.

Dharmendra Kumar, member of the Delhi chapter of Hawkers’ Joint Action ... See more

7 months ago

Today we mark International Workers' Memorial Day, and we remember all those who have lost their lives because of a workplace injury or illness.

Together we can build a society that is safe and ... See more

The new Aberystwyth Chapter hit the ground running with some local outreach in  Penparcau! They knocked on doors, chatted to people, heard about what’s bothering them and what they want to change. Find out more here 

Manchester: Marched on Bridgfords Letting Agents for the 2nd time, after they refused to compensate 2 members who spent months living with no hot water, no working shower, broken radiators, mold on the walls, and more!Find out more here

Newcastle: Hosted a virtual member defense training session Find out more here >>

Oxford: Hit the streets after two members, who who is clinically vulnerable, were evicted from their apartment that was already in distressing conditions.Check out their latest action >>

Leeds: Staged a demonstration marched on estate agent the Letting Game with three of our members who are being denied a two-month extension on their eviction date, putting them at risk of homelessnessCatch up on the latest from ACORN Leeds >>

Victory for ACORN Canada: 
Slumblord Smackdown!

After several months of pressure on the city of Brampton & Brampton Fire, ACORN Peel was victorious in getting an Inspection Order on the multi-billion dollar slumlord Starlight!

ACORN members had an action-packed day on July 14th when Members across 10 cities went to Canada’s big banks to demand a mass refund of our bank fees, lowering of the NSF Fees, end to 2 tier banking, and low-interest loans or fair credit.
Read More Here

ACORN Peel leader Nabeela Irfan was recently interviewed about the affordability crisis in Peel, and how tools like IZ can help save AND building affordable housing while preventing further disaster in Peel’s housing crisis.
Read the interview here!

CATU continues the fight against the plans to build cramped sub-par co-living housing In Dublin. By using direct action and community outreach to loudly advocate for the infrastructure that their community so badly needs; decent, secure, and truly affordable housing. Read more here >>

CATU Maynooth had a banner drop outside Mullen Park, one of the now-infamous estates caught in the vulture funds scandal, and stickering around the town as part of CATU Ireland’s National day of action today.See more pictures of the event here >>

Les Hijabeuses: the female footballers tackling France’s on-pitch hijab ban

Young players excluded from matches because of their religious dress find a way to play on and encourage other hijab-wearing women into the sportby Jessie WilliamsRights and freedom is supported by

Humanity United

About this contentMon 21 Jun 2021 07.00 EDT

Founé Diawara was 15 years old when she was first told she could not wear her hijab in a football match.

It was an important game. She had recently got into the team of a club in Meaux, the town north-east of Paris where she grew up, and they were playing a local rival. Diawara had been wearing her hijab during training, but as she was about to walk on to the pitch, the referee said she must remove it if she wanted to play.

Founé Diawara during a training session at Montreuil football pitch.
Founé Diawara during a training session at Montreuil football pitch in the suburbs of Paris. 
Les Hijabeuses (from left): Zamya, Founé Diawara and Hawa Doucouré

The French football federation (FFF), football’s governing body in France, bans women from wearing the hijab in official club matches, as well as during international games. It is a rule that is out of step with football’s international governing body, Fifa, which lifted its hijab ban in 2014.

I’m not a woman wearing a hijab playing football, just a woman who loves football

Bouchra Chaïb

Diawara refused to take her hijab off. “It’s in accordance with my beliefs,” she says. “It’s something that I choose to wear.” The referee refused to budge. She spent the match on the bench, watching her team play without her.

Now 21, and studying for a master’s in Paris, Diawara said the encounter left her feeling angry and as if she did not belong. “I was trapped between my passion [for football] and something that is a huge part of my identity. It’s like they tried to tell me that I had to choose between the two,” she says.

Les Hijabeuses at a training session.
Les Hijabeuses at a training session

Diawara has channelled her anger into action and is co-president of Les Hijabeuses, a collective of young hijab-wearing female footballers campaigning against the FFF’s ban as part of a wider battle to promote a more inclusive society in France, which has seen a rise in far-right groups and Islamophobia.

Formed in May 2020 by community organisers from the Citizen’s Alliance, which campaigns against social injustices in France, the Paris-based Hijabeuses now has more than 100 members. They play football together, connect with other teams across France and put on training sessions to encourage other young hijab-wearing women to get into football.

Les Hijabeuses are like family for Hawa Doucouré, 19, who studies computer science at university. “They push me and encourage me,” she says. Football has always been a big part of her life: she plays with her family every Saturday afternoon and loves watching matches. “But as a woman, I never really went ahead and [played for a club], so when I discovered the Hijabeuses, it was a way for me to start playing,” she says.

Karthoum Dembélé with other women from Les Hijabeuses at the Women's Urban Cup organised by Urban Jeunesse Academy.
Karthoum Dembélé playing with Les Hijabeuses
Karthoum Dembélé, Hawa Doucouré and other players from Les Hijabeuses at the Women’s Urban Cup, a football tournament organised by Urban Jeunesse Academy

Leïla Kellou, another Hijabeuses member, says her Algerian and French heritage is responsible for the “strong love of football in my blood”. The 29-year-old, who works at the TV station Canal+, began wearing the hijab at 19 because “it was the natural path for my spiritual and personal conviction”. She does not understand why some people in France believe that Muslim women are forced to wear the hijab, yet refuse to listen to the perspectives of “the actual people wearing the hijab”.

For many players, Les Hijabeuses feels like a refuge. Karthoum Dembélé, an 18-year-old student in digital communications, joined the group to “be part of their campaign and play freely without fearing anything happening to me”.

Her older brother was the one to spark her interest in football: “I thought if he can play, so can I.” When she started playing with him, it was difficult at first being the only girl, she says, but she persevered. “I love everything about football; I love the competition and I love to win. I like sharing all these emotions together.”

Les Hijabeuses at the Women’s Urban Cup
Les Hijabeuses at the Women’s Urban Cup

Dembélé describes the group as being “a safe space” for her. “There’s a lot of kindness between all the players. We share a lot, we laugh a lot.” She would like to become a professional footballer, but if the FFF ban continues, there will be a moment where “I won’t be able to go any further,” she says.

Bouchra Chaïb’s favourite position is goalkeeper. The 27-year-old midwife from Saint-Denis in the north of Paris is the other Hijabeuses co-president. She plays football whenever she has the chance and says when she plays, she is “not a woman wearing a hijab playing football, just a woman who loves football”.

Chaïb discovered Les Hijabeuses after a bad experience playing a match for her club. Chaïb wears a headguard, similar to ones worn in rugby, which covers most of her hair and is usually allowed, even under FFF rules. However, before the match the referee told her to take it off and would not let her explain why she had to wear it. She felt humiliated and scared. “It was really frightening,” she says.

Bouchra Chaïb trains at Montreuil football pitch.
Bouchra Chaïb training at Montreuil football pitch

Her coach persuaded the referee to let Chaïb play. But after the match, she went online to find others who had had similar experiences, which is when she found Les Hijabeuses.

The group’s aim, says Chaïb, is that all women “whatever they believe or whatever they wear or whatever their background, can play freely without being stigmatised and without having to mentally prepare themselves to go into battle – because this is what it feels like”.

The FFF declined a request for comment and instead pointed to its statutesand a guide that set out the organisation’s commitments to neutrality, nondiscrimination and laïcitéLaïcité, which loosely translates as secularism, originally meant the separation of church and state in France but has come to denote the neutrality of the state to all religions.

Les Hijabeuses during a training session at Montreuil football pitch, the group share the ground with other young people from the area.
Les Hijabeuses during a training session at Montreuil football pitch. The group share the ground with other young people from the area

In the last two decades this has manifested itself in the banning of religious symbols, including prohibiting the hijab in state schools. In 2011, France became the first European country to ban women from wearing a niqab, or full-face veil, outside their homes. A controversial bill is going through parliament, which includes a ban on women under the age of 18 wearing the hijab in public places. Critics argue that the law would curtail civil liberties and further stigmatise France’s estimated 5.7 million Muslims.

“They are treating us like children,” says Doucouré of the law, “like we don’t have a brain, like we can’t talk or think for ourselves”. Chaïb says the government thinks they are “heroes”, saving Muslim women from the hijab.

  • Les Hijabeuses and a community organiser for the Citizen’s Alliance, which helped set up the group
Les Hijabeuses and a community organiser for the Citizen’s Alliance, which helped set up the group.

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