Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

PARIS — France’s schooling minister introduced Monday a ban on lengthy robes in lecture rooms beginning with the brand new college yr, saying the clothes worn primarily by Muslims are testing secularism within the nation’s faculties.

Critics say that abayas, worn by ladies, and khamis, the male garb, are not more than a trend assertion. They are saying the clothes don’t represent an ostentatious signal of faith and shouldn’t be banned from lecture rooms beneath a 2004 legislation.

For Gabriel Attal, the just lately appointed schooling chief, the clothes are “an infringement on secularism,” a foundational precept for France, and, in some circumstances, a bid to destabilize faculties.

The 34-year-old Attal, appointed in July, was doubtlessly transferring right into a minefield along with his ban on lengthy robes to “shield” secularism, prompted by rising studies of the clothes in some lecture rooms across the nation. Earlier statements and legal guidelines on secularism have seeded acrimonious debate.

“Our faculties are frequently examined. We all know that,” Attal stated at a information convention every week forward of the beginning of the college yr. He stated that the carrying of abayas and khamis had grown just lately, and have to be met with a agency response to sort out what typically quantities to “infringements, makes an attempt at destabilization.”

“We should stand collectively. We are going to stand collectively. … The abaya has no place at school, not more than non secular symbols,” Attal stated, referring to the 2004 legislation which banned Muslim headscarves, Jewish kippas, giant crosses and different “ostentatious” non secular accoutrements from lecture rooms.

French authorities have more and more moved to defend secularism, a constitutional precept meant to ensure non secular neutrality in a multicultural nation. Authorities concern that non secular symbols are a gateway to Islamic radicalism, which has erupted in violence in France prior to now. Some Muslims, nevertheless, really feel stigmatized by efforts to make them conform. Islam is the second faith in France.

A 2021 legislation towards what officers seek advice from as “separatism” was aimed toward additional strengthening French secularism, notably by rising oversight of mosques, faculties and sports activities golf equipment to root out indicators of Islamic radicalism.

Voices had been shortly raised towards the plan to ban lengthy robes from faculties.

“For me, the abaya just isn’t a non secular garb. It’s a sort of trend,” Abdallah Zekri, a pacesetter of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, stated on the information station BFMTV. The abaya is “a protracted and ample gown. It has nothing to do (with faith).” Zekri’s phrases mirrored the place of his group, that the abaya just isn’t a non secular signal for Muslims.

Attal’s predecessor as schooling minister, Pap Ndiaye, successfully left it as much as college principals whether or not to crack down on lengthy robes within the classroom because the phenomenon grew.

Between the 2021-2022 college yr and 2022-2023, indicators of infringement on secularism elevated 120%, from 2,167 to 4,710, in response to a confidential authorities notice obtained by the newspaper Le Monde. The rise was largely because of the carrying of abayas and khamis, it stated. France has 12 million college pupils nationwide.

“Public faculties should, in any respect prices, maybe greater than some other establishment, be protected against non secular proselytism, from any embryo of communitarianism,” Attal stated, referring to the notion of communities leaning into their very own cultural, religious or different elements of their origins on the expense of their Frenchness.

To implement the ban on abayas and khamis in lecture rooms, Attal stated that 14,000 academic personnel in management positions can be educated by the tip of this yr, and 300,000 personnel can be educated by 2025. Prime directors will go to faculties looking for assist in addition to these “the place we decide particular must handle the beginning of faculty with them.”

The 2004 legislation banning non secular symbols in lecture rooms was handed after months of bitter wrangling and a marathon parliamentary debate. It was too early to say whether or not Attal’s order banning lengthy robes from faculties would result in acrimony inside lecture rooms.

Onerous-right politician Eric Zemmour, head of the small Reconquest! celebration against immigrants, posted on X, the previous Twitter: “Banning abayas is an effective first step whether it is utilized.” He desires uniforms in lecture rooms. A lawmaker for the hard-left France Unbowed celebration, Clementine Autain, known as the transfer “anti-constitutional” and requested, “How far will the garments police go?”

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