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French Education Minister Reports Nearly 300 Students Defying Abaya Ban In Schools

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(CTN NEWS) – On Monday in France, numerous girls arrived at school wearing abayas in open defiance of the recent ban on this Muslim garment.

According to a government minister who spoke to the French broadcaster BFM on Tuesday, these girls were sent home when they adamantly refused to remove their abayas.

The abaya is an outer garment that covers the body from shoulders to feet, often worn by some Muslim women.

The French government implemented a ban on abayas in schools just last month, contending that it represents a visible display of religious affiliation, which is prohibited in schools under a 2004 law.

Prior to this recent ban, the status of abayas in schools had been somewhat ambiguous, falling into a legal gray area.

French Abaya Ban Enforcement: Schoolgirls Sent Home on First Day of Term

On the initial day of the school term, almost 300 girls arrived at school dressed in abayas, according to Education Minister Gabriel Attal, who informed BFM.

Among them, 67 were sent home as they refused to remove the garment, while the majority of students complied and changed out of their attire.

Attal mentioned that the girls who were asked to leave were provided with a letter for their families, emphasizing that “secularism is not an imposition; it is a freedom.”

The minister further noted that if these girls persisted in wearing the abaya to school, there would be a “fresh dialogue” initiated.

French 1

Legal Challenge and Presidential Defense: France’s Abaya Ban Controversy

The Action for the Rights of Muslims (ADM), an organization representing Muslims, has petitioned France’s highest court for complaints against state authorities, the State Council, seeking an injunction against the ban on abayas and its male equivalent, the qamis.

The ADM’s motion is scheduled to be reviewed on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has publicly defended the ban, asserting that there exists a “minority” in France that misuses religion to challenge the principles of the republic and secularism.

He expressed concerns that such actions could lead to dire consequences, citing the tragic murder of teacher Samuel Paty three years ago.

Samuel Paty was killed by an 18-year-old Russian Muslim refugee following a social media campaign that criticized him for displaying caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on freedom of expression.

Macron emphasized the importance of maintaining a neutral stance within schools, stating, “School must remain neutral: I don’t know what your religion is, and you don’t know what mine is.”

It’s worth noting that under the 2004 secularism law, significant religious symbols such as large Christian crosses, Jewish kippas, and Islamic headscarves were already prohibited in schools.

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