Muslims are already excluded from French political life: that’s the real 'abaya' issue

Abaya-wearing girls are seen not simply as students, but as envoys of global Islamism conspiring against the French nation, writes Kaoutar Harchi for The Guardian

Attal, the French education minister, went on national television for an interview to mark the start of the new school term, he had a clear message: "I have decided that the abaya can no longer be worn in school." He elaborated: “When you walk into a classroom, you should not be able to identify the pupils’ religion by looking at them.”

An official statement came a few days later confirming the ban on the long, loose dress worn by some Muslim women and girls.

The practical effect of the announcement is that any young woman who turns up at the gates of her school wearing an abaya faces being barred from attending class or mixing with her classmates. “But,” added the minister, “students will be welcomed and there will be a conversation with them to explain the meaning of the rule.”

The ban on wearing the abaya should be seen as part of the colonial relationship that exists between the French state and French citizens descended from postcolonial immigration.

© The Guardian 2023

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