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France Bans Abaya Dress to be worn in Schools

Abaya dress, a loose-fitting, full-length garment worn by certain Muslim women, will be prohibited at state-run schools in France, the country’s education minister said before the start of the school year.

France has struggled to update standards to deal with a rising Muslim minority after enforcing a stringent prohibition on Abaya dress in state schools.

Large crosses, Jewish kippas, and Islamic headscarves are prohibited in French public schools, reported by Al-Jazeera.

The government outlawed headscarves in schools in 2004 and full-face veils in public in 2010, infuriating many in its five million-strong Muslim minority.

“I have decided that the Abayas will no longer be permitted in schools,” Education Minister Gabriel Attal stated in an interview with French television station TF1. “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to tell what religion the students are just by looking at them.”

Abaya dress

The decision follows months of controversy about using Abayas in French schools, where women have traditionally been prohibited from wearing the hijab.

ProhibitionThe right and extreme right advocated the prohibition, while the left contended it would violate civil freedoms.

Unlike headscarves, abayas have existed in a murky area, with no official prohibition until today.

According to the French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM), a national group of various Muslim associations, clothing alone is not “a religious sign.”

In France, defending secularism is a rallying cry that resonates across the political spectrum, from left-wingers supporting Enlightenment liberal ideas to far-right conservatives seeking a bulwark against Islam’s rising presence in French society.

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