France bans abayas in schools – level 3

01-09-2023 07:00

France’s ban on abayas, full-length robes worn by some Muslim women, in state-run schools has sparked mixed reactions.

The move is a part of France’s commitment to secularism, which has been a sensitive topic since the ban on religious symbols in state schools was imposed in 2004. Education Minister Gabriel Attal explained the recent ban, citing breaches of rules due to students wearing religious attire. The decision has been praised by the conservative right and some school principals, but criticized by the left and academics who see it as stigmatizing. Critics argue that the ban fails to distinguish between fashion and religion and could lead to profiling based on identity.

The controversy echoes previous bans on headscarves and face veils that caused tensions within France’s Muslim community.

Difficult words: secularism (separation of the state from religious institutions), attire (formal clothes), stigmatizing (regarding someone or something as worthy of disapproval), echo (to reflect).

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What implications does France's recent ban on abayas in state-run schools have on religious freedom?


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