France To Ban Traditional Islamic Wear In New School Dress Code
With its latest policy change, many are growing concerned that France is perpetuating Islamophobia. For its upcoming school year, the government is forbidding students from wearing the abaya, a modest dress typically worn by Muslim women and girls, to school.
As reported by CNN.com, the country’s education minister Gabriel Attal delivered the news to the public by stating the dress’ strong association with a religion infringes of France’s principles.
“Schools of the Republic are built on very strong values and principles, especially laïcité…For me, laïcité, when put in the framework of a school, is very clear: you enter a classroom and you must not be able to identify the religious identity of students just by looking at them,” Attal said.
The French term laïcité represents the nation’s value of separating religion from the state, however, not all of the nation’s elected officials are in agreement with this new legislation, believing that the term itself is actually weaponized to promote Islamophobic restrictions.
Députée Danièle Obono, a left-wing lawmaker in France, tweeted that the new policy is one part of a “new Islamophobic campaign” that President Emmanuel Macron championed while also shutting down laws that would eliminate fees and other financial burdens for their schools.
Pendant que la Macronie lance pour la #rentree2023 une nouvelle campagne islamophobe, à la @franceinsoumise, après avoir déposé une proposition de loi pour la gratuité complète de l'école (fournitures, cantine, activités…), nous allons organiser l'aide concrète aux familles. https://t.co/VN2C2815vL
— Députée Obono (@Deputee_Obono) August 27, 2023
This new regulation comes after restrictions were proposed on Muslim women wearing the hijab, following the nation’s 2018 ban on the niqāb, a head covering that conceals the face with a veil for those who want to practice extra modesty. The crackdown on the outward display of one’s religious preference, but mainly targeting Islamic ways, was prompted by France’s right-wing party, Les Républicains.
Of whether or not kids will be forbidden to wear the hijab at school, Attal remained focused only on abayas and the “need for a clear rule” on their place in the classroom. Some political commentators believe this is just further dividing the nation and marginalizing a religious group.
Rim-Sarah Alouane, a French researcher in human rights and civil liberties, believes the ruling could have harmful ramifications in the near future. “Such policies,” Alouane said, “fuel the nation’s fractures.”