The Sun (Malaysia)

More than 500 French schools under scrutiny over abaya ban


PARIS: French authoritie­s are watching over 500 schools for signs pupils could be violating a newly announced ban on the abaya Muslim dress for women, as children across the country return to class, the education minister said yesterday.

The government announced last month it was banning the abaya in schools, saying it broke the rules on secularism in education that have already seen Muslim headscarve­s banned.

The move gladdened the political right but the left argued it represente­d an affront to civil liberties.

“There are 513 establishm­ents that we have identified as potentiall­y concerned by this question at the start of the school year,” Education Minister Gabriel Attal told RTL radio.

He said work had been done ahead of the start of the school year to see in which schools this could present a problem, adding that trained school inspectors would be placed in certain schools.

There are around 45,000 schools in France.

The hard-left has accused the government of centrist President Emmanuel Macron of trying with the abaya ban to compete with Marine

Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and shifting further to the right.

However, Attal said he was against imposing a ban on parents wearing clothes that had religious significan­ce when they accompanie­d their children on school outings.

“There is a difference between what happens in school and what happens outside school.

“What matters to me is what happens in school,”the minister said.

Some leading figures on the right have called on the government to make children wear school uniform in state schools and Attal said he would announce a uniform trial in the autumn.

“I am not sure it’s a miracle solution that will solve all school problems. But I think it merits testing.”

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