Chirac promises 'understanding' overapplication of headscarf ban

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday stood firm on his government's new law banning Islamic headscarves in state schools, saying it should apply to all but hinting there could be possible exceptions.

PARIS, July 14 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday stood firm on his government's new law banning Islamic headscarves in state schools, saying it should apply to all but hinting there could be possible exceptions.  

The law "applies to every man and woman," Chirac said in a wide-ranging Bastille Day interview broadcast live on TF1 and France 2 television, but added that the ban would be applied with "intelligence" and "understanding".  

"All French people are equal before the law and all must respect the law. As a result, we reject any sort of communitarianism," the French leader said.  

Passed in March amid much controversy and some overseas criticism, the legislation prohibits any ostentatious religious insignia, including Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses, in state schools and universities.  

The government introduced the law to stop what it saw as an increasingly radical stance by some students to assert their religious identity in schools in violation of a principle that such institutions should be strictly secular.  

But the legislation - due to go into effect in September when classes resume - was widely criticized in many countries in the Arab world, which said it was an example of blatant discrimination against Muslims.  

France is home to Europe's largest Muslim community, at about five million strong.  

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

 

 

 

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