France to Ban Abayas in Schools

We have previously discussed the denial of religious expression in France for Islamic women who wish to wear abaya, Islamic swimsuits, or burkas. Many of us have lamented about how France, the cradle of so many individual rights in history, has become so inimical to those rights. France has adopted the opposite position to these rights. It has relentlessly attacked free speech (including the criticism of religious beliefs) while denying the expression of religious beliefs. The latest example is the ban announced this weekend on Muslim women wearing the Islamic abaya to school as violations of France’s strict secular laws in education.

Education Minister Gabriel Attal  declared “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them. I have decided that the abaya could no longer be worn in schools.”

It is, in my view, an outrageous denial of the religious freedom of these women and girls. They must choose between an education and their faith. To adopt a Millian Harm Principle approach, how does the wearing of an abaya harm others beyond irritating those who reject their beliefs?

We previously discussed France’s ban on the wearing of full face veils in public.  The same intolerance could be used to ban crosses around necks or yarmulkes on heads as conveying religious faith.

There are five million Muslims living in France who want to be able to move around in public and go to school without being forced to discard their religious beliefs. How is banning religious garb and symbols in France any different from requiring them in countries like Iran or Afghanistan? Both sets of laws regulate and criminalize the expression of religious faith and values.

50 thoughts on “France to Ban Abayas in Schools”

  1. In other news: “French Bureaucrat Faints and Suffers Seizure After Seeing Mennonite Woman Wearing a Lace Cap.”
    Toulouse: A file clerk with the French City’s Culture and Information Ministry suffered a seizure after witnessing a Mennonite woman exit a tour bus–the fact that a tourist wore a lace cap typical of her religion’s sensibilities threw him into a grand mal and also shocked local townspeople into surrendering to the nearby police officer, begging forgiveness for not pilloring the Mennonite sooner.

    It took twenty minutes to revive the bureaucrat, but when awakened he jumped up, pointed a still quivvering finger at the Mennonite threat to the state, and yelled “J’accuse…! J’accuse…! J’accuse…!”

    The tourist and her infant daughter were fortunately deported, saving the French State from another of this week’s existential threats.

  2. The wearing of abayas and burkas is, in my opinion, more of a cultural and political statement and not really about religion. The proponents hide behind religion but it’s really more cultural and political than religious. Which religious text requires the wearing of abayas and burkas? As it’s more cultural and political than religious, and fosters division and discord, I’m not so quick to judge the French government on this issue.

  3. Simpler to just ban people who demand Abayas, etc, from permanently living in France. It appears they have a goal of being colonists and conquerors rather than French. Look what happened when Briton invited the Angles and Saxons to come visit. What happened to: “When in France….”?

  4. The French fought a hundred year revolution against the Catholic Church, your church Brother Turley, and out of it came a whole theory of public life that comes with a vocabulary that Americans hardly appreciate. When you speak on this subject, mention la Laité and it’s Constitutional status alongside Liberté, égalité, and fraternité. Otherwise, you lapse into Sophistry by omission. A Frenchman’s public persona is his responsibility and how to dress in public is a lesson in civics. Compare your analysis with the current struggle in Iran. #WomanLifeFreedom

  5. Well, my fellow Muslims, censorship and speech codes might appeal to you, but dress codes are not far behind. If they can tell me to shut up, they can tell your daughter to strip. They can force your son to doubt his manhood.

    You’re freer in America than in France—for now. The Democrats want to change that. Voting Democrat is a double-edged scimitar. Time to rethink, brothers and sisters.

    1. Diogenes,
      It is worse than that,
      “The ruling was a shock to parents, the majority of them Muslim and Ethiopian Christians, who supported a federal lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education earlier this summer in response to new requirements that their children—many as young as prekindergarten age—would be mandated to read (or have teachers read them) books about LGBT topics, regardless of their parents’ objections. “It’s very disrespectful,” Shaykh El Hadji Sall, the parent of three children who attend a school in the system, told me at a rally organized by parents Thursday. “It’s ignoring the will of the people.”

      If you will recall, our leftist friends here on the good professor’s blog insisted this kind of thing was not happening. It was all a right wing conspiracy theory.
      No. It is happening.

  6. “Laïcité is the French principle of secularism. It was employed to remove the influence of religion, especially Catholic, from schools and other French institutions.

    I recently read that the discussion in France against Islamic symbols sharpened after a Chechen refuge beheaded a teacher in 2020, Samuel Patty, who taught in a Paris suburb, when he showed the students caricatures of Mohammed. My last visit to northern Europe was in November 2015. Northern France, Belgium was in lockdown, fully armed army personal were seen throughout the streets. They finally lifted the ban in December and the people poured out into the streets to celebrate. It was not too many months later that the Zaventem airport was bombed (the same place I stood in security line). So, there is not a warm and fuzzy feeling between the French and Muslims. Don’t forget the Nahel Merzouk riots
    Jun 27, 2023 – Jul 15, 2023.

    One can scoff at the atrocity of such an assault of freedom of expression but they need to look inwardly when laying blame to such an atrocious policy. Parents have been removed from raising their children as they see fit in schools across this country. The schools and the government have made it clear that the children are theirs to indoctrinate with whatever they wish and the parents must have no say in such matters.

    If the schools insist on secularism and that no belief system can be taught to the students, then so be it. This means that parents have the right to protest any type of belief system including the new religions of climate crisis, transgender ideology, equity, inclusion, Marxism, etc. These are belief systems that are being forced on the students and parents find themselves, sometimes, defenseless against this cult-like propagandization and teaching them that there is no place for debate and those who dare to question authority will do it at their own peril.

    Long gone is the idea of coming to the table and reasoning out a amicable solution. The activists desire division, chaos and polarization. They rail against national unity and the result will be that our fragile citizenship will digress to tribalism and a speed return to the dark ages.

  7. Is there any reason that the Muslim student cannot wear the long dress to school, remove it upon arrival and put in her locker, and change into a less elaborate garb or even a school uniform? This would seem to be an accomodation for two legitimate viewpoints. As to face veils, they do not belong anywhere in the public sphere. They function like alias names to erect barriers to engagement with others.

  8. This column is what happens when you look at a situation devoid of context. France has a population of 67 million, of which at least 5 and probably closer to 10 million are 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants from Muslim countries, immigrants that France didn’t particularly want and which continue to flood in. France has had significant problems with terrorist attacks by said immigrants, many of whom use the burka as camouflage. France has always been one of the more nationalistic European countries. They have to have a commission to decide whether to “allow” a foreign word into the French dictionary, whereas other countries accept it as a matter of course, and when it comes to cheese and wine they’re even more stringent.

    I think it’s somewhat ironic that Professor Turley, while decrying France’s new policy in schools, displays a colonialistic attitude. France should behave according to American standards!

    Meanwhile Professor Turley has nothing to say about the J6 prisoners like Ryan Samsel who has been held in atrocious conditions for two and a half years with no trial, who has been beaten to the point of losing an eye, and who even alleged sexual assault by a guard. That’s just fine and dandy because don’t you know, Trump supporters have no rights.

    Professor Turley, first of all, please take the log out of your own eye before looking for the speck in another’s eye. Second, understand what France is going through and has gone through because of what amounts to a real invasion of primarily Muslim migrants.

    It is said that life is round. France was the country that really fought the crusades a thousand years ago, and invaded the Holy Land to liberate Jerusalem from the Saracens or whatever the narrative was. And although the Crusaders ultimately lost, they wrought a lot of havoc along the way, including the sack of Constantinople which was a Christian city but unfortunately they had a lot of stuff the French wanted. I feel like the ongoing invasion of France is just the pendulum swinging back.

    The French will eventually work it out, undoubtedly in favor of the migrants. Meanwhile we have clear election interference and corruption at the highest levels of government in our own country, but since the perps have a D after their names, Professor Turley prefers to focus on France.

    1. No proper context, either in France or the U.S., can ignore the reason(s) why tens of millions of people are being displaced around the world.

      I suggest global polices like the ‘war on terror’ (in Muslim countries), overthrow of governments in the Latin South as well as the proxy war in Ukraine has something to do with it.

      No one wants to be a desperate, homeless ‘illegal immigrant’.

      *give me your tired,
      your poor,
      your huddled masses
      yearning to breath free,
      the wretched refuse of
      your teeming shore,
      send these, the homeless,
      tempest tost to me.

      I lift my lamp beside
      the golden door

      ~ Statue of Liberty

  9. France is their own country, and can set their own lines between religion and secular society. Given the history of religion causing havoc, massacres, and wars over a thousand years of history, it is reasonable for them to decide that they want to keep are more secular society then we do.

    1. Yep, those people are free to leave france if they dont like it. Just like people are free to leave this country who dont like our constitution.

  10. It is a modern political problem when for example, France wants to remain French. Or Hungary wants to remain Hungarian. In the USA anyone who drags their tent across the border becomes one of us, with nearly all of the rights of citizens, plus the benefits of ample financial support to keep them comfy. Why are the old countries so selfish with their nationality?

    1. Not true. Practically no financial support to undocumented people, and almost none of the rights of citizens.

      1. Then why is NYC spending some $20m a month to house and feed illegal immigrants?’
        Chicago is doing something similar.
        They are getting better treatment than some Americans.

          1. $20 million is practically nothing if the alternative is all those poor people starving to death.

            And by all means, pls include poor Americans.

            *they say it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven, then a camel through the eye of a needle.

            1. “They” also say
              “Go and destroy your enemies”—Jehovah
              “Love your enemies if you want to be a child of God”—Jesus

              Most of “those poor people” look to have been pretty well fed before they came here unlawfully.

            2. That money needs to be used to deport them back and shore up the borders. And, no, I’m not a gullible Christian.

  11. Abaya is not a word I hear in everyday conversation. So I looked it up. From the hundreds of images google showed me, it’s basically a long dress, plus a headscarf. The face is fully visible. Perhaps google has it wrong but out of the hundreds of images it showed me, not one had the face covered like a burqa.

    I assume there is no prohibition on girls wearing dresses to school, so the headscarf seems to be the issue. But is it illegal in France to wear a head scarf to school? That would really be absurd.

  12. The minister’s statement “…I have decided…” is chilling. One man determines how 5 million people practice their religion? Sounds terrifying.

    1. Point of order: Rightly or wrongly interpreted, many people — including many Muslims — believe that Islam calls for unbelievers to be killed. Conversely, it’s likely that France’s Education Minister is charged with protecting the lives of students and teachers in the education system. Under those real-world circumstances, your objection is merely theoretical and argumentative.
      As a general rule, pure democracy usually takes second place compared with public safety, where public officials often have plenary powers.

        1. What part of “Rightly or wrongly interpreted” don’t you understand? Are you completely out of touch with reality that you are unaware that many Muslims disagree with you?
          The entire POINT of my reply is that, IN FACT — as a matter of PRACTICAL REALITY — radical Muslims HAVE concealed weapons under abayas and burkas. It’s a fact not subject to intellectual or religious argument, and likely has more influence on this bureaucrat’s decision than is convenient for him to publicly admit.

          1. ….radical Muslims HAVE concealed weapons ….

            behold the level of stupidity on Internet forums today. Radical accountants, radical carpenters, radical day care owners, radical lesbians, radical college freshman, radical Samoans, radical Icelanders, radical Antarctic penguins, radical Orca Shark breeders…..are you really this stupid Ralph or just incredibly minimal when it comes to your potential of contributing to intellectual discourse?

            Islam is not what you think it is, with the operative word being “think”

          2. @ Ralph the entire POINT of my reply is that, IN FACT – as matter of PRACTICAL REALITY – radical Muslims with concealed weapons under abayas and burkas are a perversion of Islam .. . and not a reflection of Islam.

            *also, Newsweek attempted to reach out to the email address cited in that report——but received a bounce back early on Tuesday.

            1. Not being Muslim, and knowing only what GARBAGE media says about Muslims, I don’t pretend to speak with authority about what Muslms believe or don’t believe. However if you google the subject matter, there ARE arguments on both sides. And you can add that information to the FACT that some Muslims HAVE attacked others. You call them “radical Muslims” — whatever THAT means, however I suspect that it means whatever the garbage media has TOLD you it means.
              I’m sorry that you simply don’t understand what I’m saying, however I’ve ZERO intention of wasting my time trying to explain it to someone who’s been BRAINWASHED by the GARBAGE media that has peddled all the wars the US has been involved in since the first Gulf War. For some reason, you think you know what is a “perversion of Islam,” however you haven’t even suggested an expertise in the subject and sound like you’re just parroting what the GARBAGE media has told you.

              1. You called them ‘radical Muslims’

                >”The entire POINT of my reply is that, IN FACT — as a matter of PRACTICAL REALITY — radical Muslims HAVE concealed weapons under abayas and burkas.” ~ Ralph

                My point was Islam is not ‘radical’ .. . I don’t care what you read in the GARBAGE newspapers.

                *my only ‘expertise’ is that I know more than you.

        2. Koran 2:191 “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them”
          Koran 9:5 “When opportunity arises kill the infidels wherever you find them”

        3. Does not require killing unbelievers but Sharia states there is no penalty for a Muslim doing so. See
          o1.2.2 in the official (& horrific) Sunni Sharia manual Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller) that can be downloaded for free (eg. in book section of
          Also see sura 9 of Quran, esp 9:29 the guide for Islam’s history of violent conquest & subjugation of most of Christendom up to the Battle of Vienna 1683.

  13. The Good Professor may not. have paused to consider that Islam incorporates Law, Government, and Religion under one all embracing system.

    Also, Islam has not had its Reformation as has Christianity.

    To be far to the French….they have had many terroritst attacks by Muslim extremists.

    Part of the history of France and its colonial ventures in Africa and the Middle East resulted in a large influx of Muslims into France proper.

    That begat problems due to the lack of assimilation of the Muslims, and other negative factors that have caused very serious problems.

    The question the Professor poses is a fair and relevant challenge that applies not only to the French and Muslims…..but to the rest of us re political issues and law.

    The Professor uses the “Honest Man” concept when he looks at issues and tries to apply the same standard to the many sides involved in contentious issues….and we should all do the same.

    It matters not what ones skin color, sex, nationality, political persuasion, or socio-economic class you are…..the Law should be even handed, fair, and impartial.

    But welcome to real life….that is rarely the case.

    Should American Schools ban “MAGA” apparel and allow LGBTQ or BLM apparel… gay pride flags but remove the US Flag……allow Prayer Rooms for Muslims but forbid Prayers by Christians?

    I had the absolute pleasure to serve alongside the Indian Military in Somalia and was blessed to learn how they accommodate all of the many religious practices their Troops practiced.

    It is a shame we cannot do as good a job of that right herein the good old USA.

  14. “How is banning religious garb and symbols in France any different from requiring them in countries like Iran or Afghanistan?”

    They are different because in France there is a choice. If you do not want to take off your costume, you simply keep it on and attend a non-state-run school. Play religious dress-up on your own time, or move to a muslim state.

  15. I was in Muscat, Oman for business a couple of years ago and stayed in the Continental hotel that had a large swimming pool frequented by both Western and Muslim guests. The Muslim men generally wear swimming trousers like Western men (although not tight ones) do but the women wore Abayas, while the Western women were wearing Western bathing suits and bikinis. It was not a problem at all and a perfect example of mutual respect and tolerance. However, you would not be able to wear Western bathing suits in a small town outside the capital as the countryside is culturally still very traditional. Having that said, I see not much justification for France’s policies from an individual rights’ perspective. On the other hand, schools can install a dress code, mandating uniforms (as they do in Britain), forbidding the wearing of jewelry, etc., in which case wearing of crosses, head coverings, and burkas would be disallowed. But even then, that would not include abayas in swimming pools.
    The real problem in France is the lack of integration of the Muslim minority in society where they have become an impoverished underclass.

  16. Duh. Maybe it’s a simple safety issue, but officials don’t want to insult Muslims by directly saying that wearing abayas can be a convenient way to conceal bombs and weapons, and a veil can conceal identity whereas wearing “crosses around necks or yarmulkes on heads” does NOT.

  17. Never forget the French were behind the French Revolution where large groups were persecuted for existing and taking jobs to support the ruling class. That revolution is recurring around the world today but for the opposite reasons. Anyone not supporting the ruling class is the target today.

  18. France ALSO bans mail in ballots….because they saw TOO MUCH FRAUD

    The USA is now WORSE than France…and well pretty much anywhere maybe other than North Korea or Africa

      1. Indeed, I know of no country in the West where voting without showing a photo ID is allowed. The Dems argument that IDs discriminates against ethnic minorities is absurd.

        1. Double: “The Dems argument that IDs discriminates against ethnic minorities is absurd.”

          Okay, but you have to agree that Voter ID discriminates against dead voters and fictional voters who appear to vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

          1. Young,
            And that is the kind of discrimination you can always count on the Democrats to fight against!!
            The dead and fictional voters have rights too!!! 😉

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