The Council of State approves the ban on wearing the abaya at school

Posted Sep 7, 2023, 6:59 PM

Barely a week after the start of the school year, on September 4, the Council of State validated this Thursday the ban on the wearing of the abaya and the qamis. The government had decided to ban the wearing of this garment shortly before the start of the school year. The Muslim Rights Action ociation filed on 1er September an urgent application to the highest administrative court asking for this circular deemed to be discriminatory to be suspended as soon as possible.

In its decision, the Council of State judges that “this ban does not seriously and manifestly illegally affect the right to respect for private life, freedom of worship, the right to education and respect for the best interests of the child or the principle of non-discrimination”.

According to the judge in summary proceedings, wearing the abaya or qamis “is part of a logic of religious affirmation”, while French law has prohibited since 2004 the wearing of signs and outfits which ostensibly manifest a religious affiliation in public schools, colleges and high schools.

Reports increase

The government ped this provision by a circular on August 31. The new Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, had announced his desire to ban these clothes to relieve, according to him, teachers in “a difficult situation on the ground”.

In addition, during the 2022-2023 school year, reports from teachers and establishments on this subject had multiplied, but no clear rules yet existed. The Ministry of Education received 1,934 reports against 617 the previous school year.

According to the applicant ociation, the ban on the abaya at school infringed fundamental freedoms and freedom of worship, as well as the principle of non-discrimination. According to her, the two garments mentioned have never been qualified as strictly “religious” by the Muslim authorities in France.

Hen Chalgoumi, the president of the Conference of Imams of France, spoke about this on August 30 on X (ex-Twitter), explaining that “in the Gulf countries the abaya is a religious outfit”, adding that “those who doubt that the 2004 law prohibits the abaya endorse the discourse of Islamists and promote separatism behind the scenes”.

religious affiliation

The Council of State justifies its decision by explaining that the wearing of the abaya cannot be qualified as discreet, being therefore an “ostensible manifestation of religious affiliation”. According to him, disciplinary procedures can indeed be taken by the school head if, despite the dialogue, a student continues to come to school with such an outfit.

The government had explained on Monday, the day of the new school year, that students who wore an abaya or a qamis would be refused in cl and invited to dialogue with officials. Less than 300 students showed up with an abaya or a qamis on the first day of school, according to Gabriel Attal. “This is an important decision for the School of the Republic”, reacted the minister after the decision of the Council of State.

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