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France: Preventing the wearing of Islamic clothing in schools

France: Preventing the wearing of Islamic clothing in schools


Islamic clothing should be banned from schools

The abaya is a traditional garment worn by many Muslim women. But because of the separation of state and religion, it has now disappeared from French schools.


The abaya will be banned from schools in France. Many Muslim women wear the long dress.

France Press agency

  • The French Minister of Education wants to ban certain items of clothing in schools.

  • Muslim pajamas have “no place” in French schools

  • The right-wing opposition supports the planned ban.

France’s education minister, Gabriel Attal, wants to ban the abaya, a garment worn by some Muslim women, in schools before the start of the school year in early September. “The abaga has no place in our schools,” Attal said on Monday. The government says wearing the abaya in schools violates the principle of separation between state and religion. The right-wing opposition welcomed the announced ban.

The new rules must come before school starts

“I have decided that abayas are no longer allowed in school,” Atal told TF1 television on Sunday. He will give the school administration “clear rules at the national level” before classes resume across the country on September 4.

“Secularism means freedom of liberation through school,” the minister added. After taking office at the end of July, he declared that going to school in the abaya, a floor-length dress, was a “religious gesture” and that he would take action against it. On Sunday, he emphasized that when entering a classroom, it should not be obvious which religion students belong to. “We appear united and make it clear: Abaga has no place in our schools,” said the Minister of Education. French schools will be “put to the test”.

A minister complains about the lack of separation between religion and state

In recent months, “violations of secularism have increased dramatically, especially through the wearing of religious clothing such as the abaya or kimish,” a similar dress code for men. The minister said that these “appeared in some schools” and sometimes “stumbled”. Atal pledged to train all 14,000 school leaders by the end of 2023 and 300,000 school staff annually by 2025 on issues of secularism.

“It is a political attack, it is a political signal,” government spokesman Olivier Ferrand told BFMTV. He complained about the “evangelism” of wearing the long traditional dress that covers women’s bodies.

Crosses and yarmulkes are also prohibited

Since 2004, explicit religious symbols have been banned from schools in France. In addition to the veil, this also applies to the Jewish skullcap and Christian crosses. The principle of secularism in France is the strict separation of religion and state.

According to the statistics of the French authorities available to Agence France-Presse, violations of secularism requirements increased by 120 percent between the academic years 2021/2022 and 2022/2023. The majority of these crimes relate to the wearing of religious clothing and symbols.

A possible ban on Abaga has been discussed in France for several months. The French Islamic League CFCM believes that the floor-length robe is not religious attire. Islamic expert Al-Hawas Snejer said that wearing the abaya is “more contradictory than the hijab.”

Right-wing parties are happy about the ban

However, right-wing politicians pushed for the ban, while left-wing politicians opposed it. Conservative Republican Party Chairman Eric Ciotti endorsed Atal’s announcement: “We have repeatedly called for abayas to be banned in our schools. I welcome the Education Minister’s decision,” he said on Online Service X (formerly Twitter).

SNPDEN General Secretary Bruno Popkiewicz also welcomed the fact that there will now be clear instructions for school principals. On the other hand, Clementine Autan of the left-wing populist party LFI called the planned ban “unconstitutional” and warned of “clothes police” in schools.

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