27/02/2019 08:41 GMT

Decathlon Withdraws Runner's Hijab From French Stores After Backlash

It has caused controversy in the deeply secular country.

French sports goods chain Decathlon won’t sell a runner’s hijab in France after plans to commercialise the veil caused controversy in the deeply secular country.

Decathlon head of communications Xavier Rivoire told RTL radio on Tuesday that the chain won’t be selling the runner’s veil in France until further notice after the announcement of its marketing sparked a social media backlash.

The store said it had received 500 calls and emails to complain about the product and that some staff had been insulted and even threatened. 

Aurore Berge, spokeswoman for President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en March party called for a boycott on Twitter. She said: “My choice as a woman and a citizen will be to no longer put my trust in a brand that breaks away from our values.” 

The company replied: “Our goal is simple: to offer an adapted sport product, without judgement.” 

It later tweeted: “It is time to call for calm... verbal and physical insults and threats are not necessary.” 

Several French politicians called for a boycott of Decathlon products and Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said she would have preferred that a French company refrained from promoting the veil.

Decathlon initially said the runner’s hijab, which is already for sale in Morocco, responded to the needs of some runners.

Three years ago, an all-encompassing swimsuit known as the burkini and worn by a small minority of Muslim women caused controversy in France after some French mayors banned it.