Starting tomorrow, Monday, the French authorities will ban the wearing of the abaya and the long shirt for students inside public schools, and have directed the strict implementation of the decision, as ordered by President Emmanuel Macron.
According to a memorandum sent by the Minister of Education, Gabriel Atal, to the heads of educational institutions, wearing the abaya and long shirt “expresses religious affiliation in the school environment and cannot be tolerated.” It is a decision that some consider an extension of the decision to ban the headscarf in public schools since 2004.
Emmanuel Macron called for firmness in implementing the cloak ban in schools, and he said during his visit to a vocational high school in “Orange” in southern France, “We will not let anything pass. We know that there will be cases – perhaps of negligence – but many cases of trying to challenge the republican system. We have to be firm.” “Teachers and school administrators should never be left alone to face pressures or challenges on this subject,” he added, adding that “these knights of the republic have the right to defend secularism.”
The decision to ban the cloak was opposed by some quarters, and left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon strongly criticized the decision, calling on officials to “avoid provoking conflicts of a religious nature.” An official in Melenchon’s party said that he would propose to the party’s parliamentary group to reject this “dangerous and cruel” decision and submit it for review before the State Council, with the aim of proving that it is a decision that violates the constitution.
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