France bans wearing the abaya in schools: Minister | Education News

The move comes after months of controversy over the wearing of abayas in French schools, where women have long been banned from wearing the headscarf.

France has decided to ban children from wearing the abaya, the long, loose-fitting cloak worn by some Muslim women, in state-run schools, the French education minister said ahead of the back-to-school season.

France, which has imposed a strict ban on religious grades in public schools since 19th-century laws removed any traditional Catholic influence from public education, has struggled to update guidelines to deal with the growing Muslim minority.

French public schools do not allow large crosses, Jewish skullcaps or Islamic headscarves.

In 2004, the country banned the headscarf in schools, and in 2010 it issued a ban on full face veils in public, angering many in its five million Muslim community.

“I have decided that the abaya can no longer be worn in schools,” Education Minister Gabriel Atal said in an interview with TF1 TV. “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to tell the pupils’ religion just by looking at them.”

The move comes after months of controversy over the wearing of abayas in French schools, where women have long been banned from wearing the headscarf.

The right and far right had pressed for the ban, which the left said would infringe on civil liberties.

Unlike the hijab, abayas occupy a gray area and have not yet faced any outright ban.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith, a national body that includes several Muslim associations, said that clothing alone is not a “religious sign”.

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Defending secularism is a rallying cry in France that resonates across the political spectrum, from leftists who endorse the liberal values ​​of the Enlightenment to far-right voters seeking a bulwark against Islam’s growing role in French society.


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