Children who arrive at schools in France wearing Islamic clothing will be barred from classes “from Monday” September 4, Gabriel Attal, France’s education minister has said.
The incoming ban affects both the abaya dresses worn by girls and the qamis worn by boys, with both styles of Middle Eastern attire being associated with traditionalist Islam.
Speaking to the media, Attal insisted that although children who arrive at schools on Monday while wearing such clothes “will be welcomed”, they will not be allowed to take part in classes.
.@gabrielattal sur l'application de l'interdiction de l'abaya : "Les élèves seront accueillis et il y aura un échange avec eux pour leur expliquer le sens de la règle" #le710inter pic.twitter.com/BeDKv27TCe
— France Inter (@franceinter) August 31, 2023
Instead, they will be instructed that wearing the clothing is unacceptable within the French education system.
“They will be welcomed, they will be welcomed and there will be an exchange with them to explain to them the meaning of the rule,” Attal said.
“Behind the abaya, behind the qamis, there are young girls, young boys and there are families. Human beings with whom it is necessary to dialogue, to do pedagogy.”
Attal went on to defend the clothing ban, describing it as being necessary to preserve religious pluralism in France.
“Secularism is one of the fundamental values of the school of the Republic,” the minister said.
The bold step comes amid growing concern over breaches of secularism in educational institutions. https://t.co/qHC1oJnywW
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 28, 2023
Announced on August 27, the ban on abayas and qamis has provoked outcry amongst French progressives.
Some politicians have accused President Emannuel Macron’s government of helping to fuel anti-Islam sentiment in the country with the new rule.
Others on France’s Left have welcomed the ban, with Socialist Party MP Jérôme Guedj justifying it by saying those styles of Islamic dress had become overtly religious, despite their origins within specific cultural contexts.
“As soon as the abaya or the qamis are worn in an ostentatious [religious] dimension, then it must be prohibited,” he said.
Attal has promised to support French schools with their enforcement of the ban and said officials will write to school principals over the coming days.
The prohibiting of the wearing of abayas and qamis was announced by the education minister Gabriel Attal on Sunday. https://t.co/9BXS37uHLP
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 29, 2023