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France makes move to ban muslim ‘abayas’ in school

France makes a move to ban abaya robes worn by Muslim women and girls from schools

The French administration has decided to ban ‘abayas’ from public schools. Abayas are loose-fitting, full-length robes worn by some Muslim women. The right-wing parties have shown support for this move. It has also received a fair share of criticism. 


France imposes a strict sense of ‘laicite’ in state-run educational institutes. As such, they have banned religious symbols from state schools since 2004. The ban is sensitive and increases tensions among different groups across the country. 

Gabriel Attal, the Education Minister of France, released a statement regarding the new move. He states that the French schools have constantly been under pressure in the past few months. There have been several breaches of the spirit of ‘laicite’ with an increasing number of students wearing garments such as abayas and kameez. 

Eric Ciotti, the head of the far-right party Les Repulicains, has wholeheartedly approved the new move. He claims that it had been long overdue and that changes were in order. 

SNPDEN-UNSA is a union of school principals across France. Didier Georges, the national secretary, states that schools were waiting for an official statement from the government. Whether the answer would be a yes or a no was important. The move has satisfied their worries. 

The ban has also received heavy criticism from the left-wing parties in France. Clementine Autain is an MP for the hard-left France Insoumise. She states that the move is establishing ‘clothes police’ and propagating an intense rejection of the Muslim community in France. 

Agnes de Foe is a sociologist who has studied French women wearing the niqab for a decade. She states that the new move further stigmatizes Muslims and the community as a whole. It is a step backward for religious tolerance. 

France continues to ban ‘religious’ attire.

The recent ban on abayas is not new to the country. In 2004, France banned headscarves from schools. In 2010, the government also banned full-face veils. Both of these decisions angered the Muslim community residing in France. 

Pap Ndiaye, former education minister, had previously stated that a legal definition of the abaya is hard to come by. An abaya cannot be a religious outfit. Such a move could lead the administration to the administrative tribunal, where they would lose. Thus, he was against banning the abaya.

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