France announces ban on Muslim abayas in schools

France has announced a ban on pupils wearing the abaya, a loose-fitting full-length robe worn by some Muslim women, in state-run schools ahead of the upcoming school year in September.

Gabriel Attal, France’s education minister, described the abaya as “a religious gesture, aimed at testing the resistance of the republic toward the secular sanctuary that school must constitute”.

The minister spoke in an interview with France’s TF1 TV on Sunday.

He said he would give clear rules on how schools should proceed with the ban, adding that “secularism means the freedom to emancipate oneself through school”.

This comes as France grapples with adapting its regulations to accommodate its growing Muslim minority while upholding the nation’s long-standing tradition of secularism in education.

France has a strict ban on religious signs in state schools and government buildings, arguing that they violate secular laws.

Traditional Catholic influence has long been removed from public education while head scarves have been banned as far back as 2004.

In 2010, the government also passed a ban on full face veils, a move that drew heavy criticisms from its Muslim community.

The new rule on abayas is expected to take effect from September 4 when the fresh school year starts in France.

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Comfort Samuel

I work with TV360 Nigeria, as a broadcast journalist, producer and reporter. I'm so passionate on what I do.

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