French Mus­lim banned from class over long skirt

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The case of a 15-year-old Mus­lim girl who was banned from class twice for wear­ing a long black skirt seen as too openly re­li­gious for secular France has sparked an out­cry.

The girl was stopped from go­ing to class ear­lier this month by the head teacher who re­port­edly felt the long skirt — popular among some Mus­lim women who cover their whole body — “con­spic­u­ously” showed re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion, which is banned in schools by France’s strict sec­u­lar­ity laws.

“The girl was not ex­cluded, she was asked to come back with a neu­tral out­fit and it seems her fa­ther did not want the stu­dent to come back to school,” lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial Pa­trice Du­tot told AFP on Tues­day.

He added that the stu­dent al­ways re­moved her veil be­fore en­ter­ing school premises in the north­east­ern town of Charleville-Mezieres, as is specif­i­cally stip­u­lated by law.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2004 law that gov­erns sec­u­lar­ity in schools, veils, the Jewish kippa or large Chris­tian crosses are all banned in ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ments, but “dis­creet re­li­gious signs” are al­lowed.

The stu­dent, whom lo­cal daily L’Ar­den­nais iden­ti­fied as Sarah, told the news­pa­per her skirt was “noth­ing spe­cial, it’s very sim­ple, there’s noth­ing con­spic­u­ous. There is no re­li­gious sign what­so­ever.”

Her story was trend­ing on Twit­ter in France Tues­day with the hash­tag #JePorteMaJu­peComme- JeVeux, trans­lated into English as “I wear my skirt as I please.”

“If it’s worn by a ‘white’ per­son, it’s hippy chic, if it’s a Mus­lim, it be­comes con­spic­u­ous,” one user tweeted.

But the re­gional ed­u­ca­tion of­fice hinted in a state­ment that wear­ing the skirt could have been part of a con­certed “provo­ca­tion.”

“When it comes to con­certed protest ac­tions by stu­dents, which fol­low other more vis­i­ble in­ci­dents linked for in­stance to wear­ing the veil, the secular frame­work for ed­u­ca­tion must be firmly re­minded and guar­an­teed,” it said.

Ac­cord­ing to the CCIF Is­lam­o­pho­bia watch­dog, some 130 stu­dents were re­jected from class last year for out­fits deemed too openly re­li­gious.

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