Sunday, April 14, 2024

France to ban wearing abaya dress in schools, says education minister

(Al Jazeera Media Network) France will ban children from wearing the abaya – the loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women – in state-run schools, the country’s education minister has said ahead of the back-to-school season.

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

French public schools do not permit the wearing of large crosses, Jewish kippas, or Islamic headscarves.

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

“I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools,” education minister Gabriel Attal said in an interview with TV channel TF1. “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them.”

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

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