before the Council of State, the debates on the legality of the school ban

before the Council of State, the debates on the legality of the school ban

On Tuesday, September 5, the Council of State examined the appeal filed against the ban on wearing the abaya at school. It was the association Action Droits des Musulmans (ADM) which initiated an action for interim relief. According to this procedure, the high administrative court must render its decision within 48 hours following the conclusion of the investigation, therefore in principle by Thursday September 7.

During the hearing, the magistrates heard the parties on two key questions, namely the degree of urgency of the situation and whether this administrative measure is tainted by manifest inequality likely to infringe a fundamental freedom”.

According to figures presented a little earlier by the Minister of National Education Gabriel Attal, nearly 300 students showed up in abayas on the first day of the school year, Monday, at their school. “A very large majority complied” to the ban, but “67 did not accept” to remove it and “returned home” said the minister. Before the magistrates, the president of the ADM association and her lawyer denounced a succession of dramatic situations to justify the urgency of suspending the circular. ” VSIt creates clashes, parents call me, their daughters are in a terrible state. We have children who are destroyed” lamented the president, Sihem Zine.

Traditional dress

The ministry, for its part, contests this emergency situation. The circular, in itself, does not prevent students from attending school. On the one hand, school leaders must systematically engage in a discussion phase with students and their families and, on the other hand, young girls who wear the abaya can be welcomed into the school – but not into their class. – the time of this dialogue phase.

On the ban measure itself, the debates first focused on the nature of the abaya. For ADM, it is not religious clothing but traditional clothing, the ban on which cannot fall within the framework of the 2004 law which exclusively targets signs ostensibly demonstrating religious affiliation.

The French Council of Muslim Faith itself recalled that the wearing of this outfit was in no way prescribed by Islam. “The veil, yes, it is a religious sign but it is not the dress that makes religion”insisted Sihem Zine, who criticizes the government for having itself sought to define the abaya as religious clothing.

Considerable phenomenon

Argument meticulously dismantled by representatives of national education including general secretary Thierry Le Goff. The ministry did not want to get stuck in a technical description (length, color, etc.) of the abaya which would give a pretext to circumventions. The circular simply names this item of clothing and refers to the explanations given by the students.

“Since the start of the 2022 school year, we have gone from a few isolated cases to a phenomenon which has taken on a considerable scaleexplains Thierry le Goff. During the dialogue with these students, religious motivation systematically emerges. further specifies the official. Since then, “the subject is not whether or not Islam prescribes the wearing of this garment, but whether it immediately recognizes the religion of the person wearing it”, he justifies. In this sense, the outfit ostensibly demonstrates religious affiliation and falls within the framework of the 2004 law.

Risks of harassment

The applicants attempted to demonstrate the indirect discriminatory effect of the ban. The measure will stigmatize only young Muslim girls, creating “ a risk of ethnic profiling at school » ensures the request. During the hearing, Zihem Zine lost his temper. There is no criterion, the heads of establishment will base themselves on the facial appearance. It’s a sexist measure, it only targets girls and Arabs”said the president of ADM, who fears the distress of young girls who will isolate themselves or be harassed.

On this question of religious symbols, after the recent disputes concerning the burkini or the veil of footballers, the Council of State once again finds itself as the arbiter of religious freedom. The French, for their part, approve of the minister’s decision at 81%, according to an Ifop poll for Charlie Hebdo released on Tuesday, which also shows clear support on the left: 58% of LFI supporters are in favor, as are 73% of socialists and even 79 % of the Greens.

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