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Schools accused of discriminating against Muslim mothers

Published on June 08, 2007

PARIS, June 8, 2007 (AFP) - A top anti-discrimination body has ruled that French schools were violating the rights of headscarf-wearing Muslim mothers by preventing them from taking part in their children's outings.

A group of Muslim women petitioned the French anti-discrimination authority HALDE after they were barred from accompanying school trips or extra-curricular activities.

The school invoked a 2004 French law which bans students from wearing religious insignia, including Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps, Sikh turbans or large Christian crosses, in state schools.

In a ruling dated May 14 the HALDE stressed the ban only concerns students, and that “the refusal on principle for mothers wearing the headscarf” to join in school activities was a form of “discrimination on religious grounds.”

The HALDE recommended that all schools revise their guidelines on parent participation “in order to respect the principle of non-discrimination on religious grounds.”

France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim population, is one of the few countries to have passed legislation banning visible religious symbols in public schools.

The law sparked a wave of anger and incomprehension among Muslims worldwide, but in France the controversy that surrounded its adoption three years ago has all but died down.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news