France to ban students from wearing Islamic abayas in schools

The ban will come into effect from September 4

abaya-jammu Representative Image

After months of debate, France is set to ban female students from wearing 'abayas', full-length robe worn by Muslim women, in state schools. The announcement was made by Education Minister Gabriel Attal.

The ban will come into effect as the new school year starts on September 4. Citing violation of secular laws, France has a strict ban on religious signs in state schools and government buildings.

"When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn't be able to identify the pupil's religion just by looking at them...I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools," Attal told France's TF1 TV.

The right-wing parties have been pushing for a ban on abayas in schools, while the left parties had raised concerns on religious rights of Muslim women or girls.

"Secularism means the freedom to emancipate oneself through school...abaya is a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute," Attal told TF1.

Earlier in 2010, banning full face veils in public had led to series of protests from the Muslim community in the country. In 2004, wearing a headscarf was banned in state schools as well.

Not just Muslim religious symbols, even Christian and Jewish signs were subject to ban in schools. Religious signs at schools including crosses were banned by France in schools as an effort to curb any Catholic influence from public education. Jewish kippa was also banned as part of the law.

Meanwhile, CFCM, a national body representing Muslim associations has said that the items of clothing alone were not a "religious sign", reported BBC.


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