October 2, 2023

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The French ban on the abaya in schools raises applause and criticism

The French ban on the abaya in schools raises applause and criticism
  • Secularism is a sensitive topic in France
  • In 2004, France banned headscarves in schools
  • The education minister announced the abaya ban on Sunday
  • The move elicits mixed reactions

PARIS, Aug 28 (Reuters) – The French government’s decision to ban children from the loose-fitting robes worn by some Muslim women in state-run schools drew applause from the right on Monday, but also applause. Cash.

France has imposed a ban on religious symbols in public schools since 2004, to uphold its strict brand of secularism, known as laïcité. This is a sensitive topic, and it regularly raises political tension in the country.

“Our schools are constantly being tested, and over the past months, violations of secularism have increased significantly, especially with (pupils) wearing religious clothing such as gowns and shirts,” Education Minister Gabriel Atal told a news conference to explain the ban imposed on Sunday.

Conservative Republican Party Chairman Eric Ciotti was quick to welcome the move, which he said was long overdue.

National Secretary Didier Georges told Reuters that SNPDEN-UNSA, the principals’ association, welcomed the decision, saying that what it needed above all was clarity from the government.

George said about the cloak, “What we wanted from the ministers was: Yes or no?” “We are satisfied that the decision has been made.”

But many on the left criticized the move, including Clementine Otan, an MP for the far-left France Insoumise party, who criticized what she called the “clothing police” and the move “characterizing the obsessive rejection of Muslims”.

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Some academics agreed that the move could backfire, especially as it touched on garments that they said were worn for fashion or identity rather than religion.

“It will hurt Muslims in general,” said sociologist Agnes de Vieux, who has been researching French women who wear the niqab for the past decade. “They will feel stigmatized again.”

“It is really unfortunate that people will judge these young girls when (the abaya) is a teenage expression without consequences.”

“It’s normal clothes.”

Jannat, 22, who wears abayas at home, said she could not understand why they were banned.

“It’s a very long and loose dress,” she told Reuters. She declined to give her name because she was training to be a teacher.

De Feo said France banned headscarves in schools in 2004 and issued a ban on full-face veils in public places in 2010, which angered some in the Muslim community of more than five million and led to the creation of private Islamic schools.

Less than a year ago, Pape Ndiaye, Atal’s predecessor, said he was against banning the cloak, telling the Senate that “the cloak is not easy to define, legally…it will lead us to the administrative court, where we will lose.” “.

Daoud Rifi, who teaches Islamic studies at the Lille Institute for Political Studies, agrees. “In and of itself, there is no such thing as an Islamic dress. We need to challenge this myth,” he told Reuters.

Rivi said there is a broader fashion trend among high school girls buying long dresses and kimonos online.

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Both Revie and De Feo said that the distinction between fashion and religion could lead to pupils being categorized on the basis of their identity.

(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhero, Noemi Olive, Tassilo Hummel, Bertrand Bossy and Ingrid Melander; Reporting by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by Juliette Jabkhero; Editing by Nick McPhee, Ingrid Melander

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