Monday, October 13, 2003

France and the hijab, again

France has been dealing with the hijab issue in its public schools for some time now and I have tried to post news regarding it as it comes avalible.

Recently Tokia Saifi, the Development Director and sole Muslim woman in France's current government, has stated that she believes the hijab should be banned in public schools.

The only Muslim woman in France's centre-right government has broken a long silence to say she opposed letting girls wear traditional Islamic headscarves in school and wanted the practice outlawed.

Development Minister Tokia Saifi told RTL radio on Wednesday she hadn't spoken out before because she did not think the fact she was the French-born daughter of Algerian immigrants meant she had to make statements on every Islamic issue that arises in France.

With the headscarf's growing popularity among Muslim girls in the poor suburbs of big cities, the government has launched an inquiry into the place of religious symbols in state schools. The cabinet is split over whether to ban them officially or not.

"I am against the wearing of headscarves in school," Saifi, 44, said. "We should include (a ban) in the school guidelines law for 2004. I don't think we can do otherwise."

She said a ban would apply to other religious symbols, such as necklaces with a Christian cross or Jewish Star of David.


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