Fri 08 September 2023:
The French Supreme Court declared on Thursday that the government’s ban on Muslim women wearing abayas is legal, local media reported.
The Council of State said it had rejected an appeal by a Muslim rights group against the government’s ban on abaya, a loose-fitting, full-length robe used by certain Muslim students, in schools, which was announced last month. The court ruled that the restriction did not discriminate against Muslims.
“This ban does not seriously violate and is not manifestly illegal to the right to respect for private life, the freedom of religion, the right to education … or the principle of non-discrimination,” the court said in a statement.
It also said that the wearing of abaya and qamis in schools-which soared in the last school year of 2022-2023-fits in the logic of religious affirmation.
The government ban also prohibits students in public school buildings from conspicuously wearing signs or outfits of adherence to any religion, the statement also read.
On Aug. 31, Vincent Brengarth, a lawyer for the Muslim Rights Action (ADM), filed an appeal with the Council of State to seek the suspension of the ban on the abaya which he said violates “several fundamental freedoms.”
Earlier this week, Education Minister Gabriel Attal said that more than 60 Muslim female students refused to remove their abaya at schools.
The new school session began on Monday and despite the new rule, 298 students came to schools in various regions of the country wearing an abaya, he said.
French school sends girl home for wearing kimono
A schoolgirl in the French city of Lyon has reportedly been sent home for wearing a kimono, a traditional Japanese garment, as the European nation grapples with a controversial law banning the display of religious symbols in public schools.
Human rights lawyer Nabil Boudi, who plans to file a complaint over the incident, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the 15-year-old girl was told by the head teacher to leave the school because of her outfit – jeans, a t-shirt and an open kimono.
“This scenario illustrates the dangerous excesses that could legitimately be expected from the recent orders given by the education minister to his administration,” said Boudi.
“Absolutely nothing, in the mere wearing of a kimono, makes it possible to characterise an ostensible manifestation of belonging to a religion within the meaning of the law of March 15, 2004, without resorting to discriminatory prejudices.”
The student reportedly said that her clothes did not represent any religious affiliation.
Acts of discrimination committed by civil servants are punishable by criminal law, the lawyer said.
Le cabinet a été saisi ce jour par une jeune lycéenne ayant été exclue ce matin, par le proviseur, car elle portait un kimono.
Une plainte pour des faits de discrimination en raison de l’appartenance religieuse va être déposée.
Notre communiqué de presse. pic.twitter.com/L6y5JCvhJ4
— Nabil Boudi (@BoudiNabil) September 5, 2023
Translation: The office was seized today by a young high school student who was excluded this morning by the principal because she was wearing a kimono. A complaint for acts of discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation will be filed. Our press release.
Religious signs ban
Religious signs in state schools have been strictly banned in France since the 19th century, with laws removing any traditional Catholic influence from public education. French public schools do not permit the wearing of large crosses.
It is also forbidden for students to wear Jewish kippas and, in 2004, France also banned Muslim headscarves in schools, while in 2010 it passed a ban on full face veils in public, angering many in its five million-strong Muslim community.
In its latest move concerning how schoolchildren dress, the government announced last month a ban on the abaya – a loose-fitting, full-length robe worn by some Muslim women – saying it broke the rules on secularism in education.
The decision was welcomed by the political right but the hard left argued it represented an affront to civil liberties.
The controversial move sparked a backlash against the government, which has been criticized in recent years for targeting Muslims with statements and policies, including raids on mosques and charitable foundations, and an “anti-separatism” law that imposes broad restrictions on the community.
SOURCE: INDEPENDENT PRESS AND NEWS AGENCIES
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