France will not allow abaya, clothing that is loosely fitting and ankle-length worn by Muslim women, in government schools, the ban is applied on school going children, said its education minister on Sunday as schools will reopening.
France has had difficulties in dealing with the expanding Muslim minority in the context of redefining 19th century laws that prevented conservative Catholic influence from public education. The western European country has banned religious manifestations in government schools.
Causing discomfort to many in its five million-strong Muslim minority, France outlawed full face coverings in public in 2010 and prohibited headscarves in schools in 2004.
Across the political spectrum, from left-wingers preserving the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment to far-right conservatives seeking a bulwark against the rising influence of Islam in French society, the defence of secularism is a rallying cry in France.
Gabriel Attal, French Education Minister said, “I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools. When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them.” He was talking in an interview with TV channel TF1.