At the end of a new controversy over Islam in France, a French Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the ban on wearing the abaya, a garment that covers the entire body, in schools.
The debates about the BurqaHe Burkini or the HijabOften misunderstood abroad, they shake a very close country to an almost 120-year-old law on the separation of religion and state, and shaped by a complex relationship with Islam and Muslims, which stems particularly from its colonial past.
The return to school in September marked a new episode with the ban on women wearing the abaya and for men the qamis (a traditional tunic) in class, a very rare phenomenon.
Supporters of the measure welcomed this Remembering secularismbut his critics considered it a pretext to obscure problems in education or to stir up “Islamophobia.”
According to AFP, a Muslim association urgently appealed the measure to the Council of State, the top administrative court, believing it “violates the rights of the child.”
And although the association’s lawyer, Vincent Brengarth, defended during the trial that this dress, which covers the entire body except the face, hands and feet, was a “traditional” and not “religious” garment, this was true the court does not agree. viewed as such.
put this on Abaya “is part of a logic of religious affirmation”examined the Council of State, which considers that its ban does not violate the “right to respect for private life, freedom of religion, the right to education or respect for the well-being of the minor or the principle of non-discrimination”. “.
A series of controversies
With this measure the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), an organization that represents the country’s second religion, had denounced “another debate about Islam and Muslims with it.” Stigma rate.”
France banned In 2004 Wearing in schools and institutes some religious symbol apparently, in a context of tensions over the Islamic veil.
Six years later, seeand banned the use of the full veil in public spaceswhich sparked a worldwide controversy.
AND in 2016 the use of the burkinia swimsuit that covers the body and hair has been banned on some beaches.
In June, the country was shocked by the eventual scrapping of possible permission for female soccer players to play in a hijab.
In every controversy, the right, far right and left parties, with the exception of their radical wing, claim to want to defend secularism.
This principle is A pillar of France since a law of 1905 and, according to its defenders, it is threatened by religious “separatism,” particularly related to Islam.
The debate has intensified since the wave of jihadist attacks that rocked Europe over the last decade.
“We live in our society a minority of people who exploit a religion, challenges the republic and secularism“, replied the French President on Monday, Emmanuel Macron, to questions about the abaya.
“We can’t pretend there wasn’t a terrorist attack and Samuel Paty,” he added, referring to a teacher who was murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist in 2020 for showing cartoons of Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression .
According to a recent survey, 81% of French people support banning abayas in school.
“There is a radicalization of French society, a right wing, which we also see on other issues such as immigration and security,” French historian and political scientist Jean Garrigues told AFP.
Since the publication of Mohammed caricatures in the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo France is often viewed as “Islamophobic.” in the Muslim world.
Iranian religious researcher at Utrecht University (Netherlands), Pooyan Tamimi Arab, believes that France is going “too far” with the latest measure.
The “Islamists” will say: “French-style secularism is anti-Islamic. They will criticize him.” They could use it to justify violence“he warns.