ANKARA : More than 60 Muslim girl students refused to remove their abaya at schools, the French education minister said on Tuesday.
Gabriel Attal said in an interview with RMC that the abaya, a loose full-length robe worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty, was recently banned in schools due to the principle of secularism.
The new school session began on Monday, and despite the new rule, 298 students arrived at schools in various regions of the country wearing an abaya, he said.
“Sixty-seven of them refused to give up on their abaya,” Attal said, adding, “I do not want to be able to identify students’ religion in schools by looking at their outfit.”
The minister also stressed the importance of dialogue and explaining the purpose of this rule.
President Emmanuel Macron, who backed last week’s decision to ban abaya and qamis, a type of ankle-length shirt for men, also said in an interview on Monday that a unique attire could be adopted in schools, such as a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, and a jacket.
Vincent Brengarth, the lawyer for the Muslim Rights Action (ADM), said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday that they filed an appeal with the Council of State to seek the suspension of the abaya ban at school, which he said violates “several fundamental freedoms.”
The French top court will begin examining the case this afternoon.
The controversial move sparked a backlash against the government, which has been criticized in recent years for targeting Muslims with statements and policies, including raids on mosques and charitable foundations, and an “anti-separatism” law that imposes broad restrictions on the community. — AA