Children who arrive at school in Islamic dress will be barred from classes "from Monday", Gabriel Attal, France's education minister has said. (Photo by Lynsey Addario/Getty Images Reportage)


French pupils wearing Islamic dress will be barred from class ‘from September 4’


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.

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.

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.