France pledges headscarf banwill be 'firmly' upheld

8th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 8 (AFP) - French Education Minister Francois Fillon vowed Thursday that a new law banning Islamic headscarves in state schools would be rigorously applied when students return to classrooms in September after summer vacations.

 

PARIS, July 8 (AFP) - French Education Minister Francois Fillon vowed Thursday that a new law banning Islamic headscarves in state schools would be rigorously applied when students return to classrooms in September after summer vacations.

"Know that the republic will be steadfast, that it will show an utmost firmness" regarding the law, he told France Inter radio.

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.

"I will be watching over this personally. There will be no exceptions," Fillon said.

One Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Organisation in France, has set out to challenge the law by sending letters to Muslims urging girls to "go to the (education) establishments in whatever they choose to wear".

The French 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.

Its position against those claiming the move infringed on freedom of religion was bolstered by a June 29 European Court of Human Rights ruling involving the case of a Muslim woman who was stopped from going to Istanbul University in Turkey because she refused to take off her Islamic headscarf.

The verdict, "based on two principles - secularism and equality", set a high legal precedent for France and other European countries struggling with the issue.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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