France’s education minister said students would be banned from wearing the abaya, a long, loose-fitting robe worn by some Muslim women, in France’s state-run schools.
The rule will be applied once the new academic year begins on September 4.
France strictly bans the placement of religious signs in public schools and government buildings, arguing that they violate secular laws.
The headscarf was banned in 2004 in public schools.
“When you enter a classroom, you should not be able to tell the pupils’ religion just by looking at them,” Education Minister Gabriel Atal told France’s TF1, adding: “I have decided that the abaya can no longer be worn.” in schools.”
The move comes after months of controversy over the wearing of abayas in French schools.
The garment is increasingly being worn in schools, which has led to a political divide over this garment, with right-wing parties pressing for its ban while left-wing parties have expressed concerns about the rights of Muslim women and girls.
“Secularism means freedom of liberation through the school,” Atal told TF1, considering that the cloak is “a religious gesture intended to test the republic’s resistance to the secular sanctuary that the school should form.”
He said he would give clear rules at the national level before schools open after the summer holidays.
And in 2010, France banned the wearing of the full-face veil in public, which led to the outrage of France’s five million Muslim community.
France has imposed a strict ban on religious signs in schools since the 19th century, including Christian symbols such as large crosses, in an attempt to reduce any Catholic influence on public education.
It has updated the law over the years to reflect its changing population, which now includes Islamic headscarves and Jewish caps, but gowns are not outright banned.
Controversy over Islamic symbols has intensified since the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, near his school in a suburb of Paris in 2020, by a Chechen refugee.
The announcement is the first major political decision made by Attal, who was appointed French education minister by President Emmanuel Macron this summer at the age of 34.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith, a national body representing many Muslim associations, said clothing alone is not a “religious sign”.
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