Woman in France detained and fined by police for wearing Palestinian keffiyeh

Woman in France detained and fined by police for wearing Palestinian keffiyeh
Police in the city of Lyon detained and fined a woman for wearing the traditional Palestinian scarf known as a keffiyeh, accusing her of illegally protesting.
2 min read
05 June, 2024
Protesters wear the Palestinian keffiyeh during a demonstration in Edmonton, Canada [Getty]

A woman wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh has been detained and fined by police in France who accused her of taking part in an "illegal protest".

The incident, captured on video and widely shared online, shows two policemen speaking to a woman with a keffiyeh draped around her shoulders in France's second largest city, Lyon.

"You will receive a fine for participating in a prohibited demonstration," the police said to the woman, to which she responded that she wasn't on a protest.

The video pans around to show surroundings, where there seems to be no evidence of a pro-Palestine rally or other protesters.

"I’m wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh, in what world are we living? It’s a traditional outfit," the woman exclaims.

The New Arab contacted the French embassy in London for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Social media users slammed the incident, calling it a crackdown on freedom and human rights.

"Absolutely disgraceful! The keffiyeh is not a symbol of terrorism but a powerful representation of Palestinian heritage and resistance. Fines like this only perpetuate ignorance and oppression. Stand with Palestine against such unjust treatment!" one social media user said.

"That’s so fascist. Why do people discriminate against Palestinians? The bigotry is astounding," another wrote on X.

Others condemned the French police for the move, calling it an example of stifling of freedoms.

"Wearing a keffiyeh is not a crime, it’s a symbol of solidarity with Palestine. Stifling freedom of expression in the name of security is unjust. Lets stand together against such oppressive actions and support the right to peacefully advocate for justice for all peoples," one person stated.

The Palestinian keffiyeh is described by some as the nation’s unofficial flag, as it has become synonymous with the Palestinian cause.

Many Palestinians have been donning the keffiyeh during pro-Palestine protests in recent months, amidst Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

The bombardment of the besieged Strip has resulted in the killing of over 36,000 Palestinians, with at least 83,000 wounded since October.

Entire neighbourhoods have been levelled and most of the enclave’s infrastructure has also been destroyed.