France announces ban on abayas in schools to uphold secular values

French Education Minister Gabriel Attal has announced a ban on the Islamic garment known as the abaya in schools.

The abaya, a long dress commonly worn by Muslim women in accordance with Islamic modesty guidelines, has been a subject of debate in France due to its religious connotations. The ban is seen as a response to the reported increase in girls wearing Islamic clothing in French schools, which has raised concerns about the country’s commitment to secularism.

This move comes as part of an effort to uphold secular values within the educational system and prevent the identification of students’ religious affiliations while in the classroom.

The announcement follows previous controversies in France regarding the presence of religious symbols in schools. In 2004, the country banned religious symbols like Jewish kippahs, Islamic headscarves, and large crosses from educational institutions. The abaya, however, occupied a gray area and was not specifically addressed in the ban.

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