US group slams France for headscarf ban

13th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, May 12 (AFP) - A semi-official US religious freedom watchdog on Wednesday rebuked France and said it should "reassess" a controversial law banning certain religious garb in public schools, particularly Muslim headscarves.

WASHINGTON, May 12 (AFP) - A semi-official US religious freedom watchdog on Wednesday rebuked France and said it should "reassess" a controversial law banning certain religious garb in public schools, particularly Muslim headscarves.

The rebuke featured in the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which advises the US government.

France was the only country in western Europe that received a chapter in this year's report.

In February, the religious watchdog had urged the administration of US President George W Bush to express opposition to Paris on the law which was approved by a large majority of France's National Assembly and the French Senate in February and March.

"The French government and legislature should be urged to reassess this initiative in light of its international obligations to ensure that every person in France is guaranteed the freedom to manifest his or her religion or belief in public, or not to do so," the panel's report underlined.

The panel is concerned that other European states might follow France in implementing such laws, and said that Belgium and certain German regions are already weighing similar moves.

The French law, which becomes effective at the start of the next school year in September, bans students from wearing certain forms of religious clothing or symbols in public schools.

It bans such garb as headscarves worn by Muslim girls; large crosses worn by Christians; Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans.

It has sparked demonstrations by France's Muslim community and criticism from Muslim countries and Washington.

"Anti-semitic violence and other acts of anti-Semetism in France continue to be of concern," the report added.


©AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article