FaithWorld

France to keep a headscarf ban despite negative legal advice

December 24, 2013

(French Education Minister Vincent Peillon speaks during a news conference in Paris December 3, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau )

France decided on Monday to maintain a ban on Muslim headscarves for volunteer school monitors despite a warning that it overstepped the law requiring religious neutrality in the public service.

The Council of State, which advises the government on disputed administrative issues, said in a 32-page analysis that this neutrality did not apply to mothers who help escort schoolchildren on outings such as museum visits.

Education Minister Vincent Peillon promptly announced the ban would continue because the Council’s opinion also said that schools could impose internal rules against religious wear.

“The memo (establishing the ban) remains valid,” he said in a communique after the Council’s analysis was released.

France imposed the ban last year as one of several steps in recent years to tighten its policy of strict secularism. It banned headscarves for pupils in state schools 10 years ago and outlawed full-face Muslim veils in public in 2011.

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