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France to Ban Abayas in Schools

The French Education Minister announced that the abaya, a form of covering worn by Muslim women, will be banned in schools with the start of the new academic year in September. The move comes after months of debate over the wearing of abayas in French schools.

The minister said in an interview that “Schools of the Republic are built on very strong values and principles, especially laïcité.” Another top official called abayas a “political attack” and an attempt to convert people to Islam. 

France has a strict ban on religious signs in state schools and government buildings, arguing that they violate secular laws. This extreme brand of French secularism, known as “laicite,” has a long history of discriminating against Muslims and their freedom to practice their faith openly. 

In 2004, France banned headscarves in schools and passed another ban on face veils in public in 2010, angering some in its five million-strong Muslim community. 

Last year, French lawmakers also backed a ban on wearing the hijab in sports competitions.

This is all while France vehemently claims to stand for the human rights and freedoms of people globally, and yet Muslims and other religious groups in its own country are repressed and cannot practice their faith freely.

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